Drivers' Corner - Knight of the Highway
Chapter VI: A Desperate Feeling
I arrived at the delivery gate at 7:30 as planned. The receiving department was quick to inform me that my appointment was supposed to be at 3:00 a.m. I explained that the dispatcher gave me an 8:00 a.m. appointment and I would have rather delivered at 3:00 because I would have been at home already. The dispatcher, of course, had a different story, saying that he told me 3:00 a.m. and that I must have misunderstood. The driver is usually the one to catch all the flack from mistakes and since I was the low man on the totem pole I just bit my tongue. The original dispatch was recorded on my mini-recorder in case it was marked on my record as a service failure on my part. What a way to start my days off, I thought. Ticked off!
While the lumper was unloading I did my morning check-call to my driver supervisor. For extra measures I played the tape so he would know the late delivery wasn't my doings. I knew he really could care less, but I did it just for pride's sake. Then to worsen my spirits, I learned I would have to spot my trailer when empty and go deliver a loaded trailer that another driver had dropped before I could go home. I thought how wonderful it would be just to bring the truck back to the company and hand the keys to my supervisor while telling him where to stick them! At least I was getting time off which hopefully would change my mood.
It was late evening when I managed to get home--I had stopped by a friend's house to discuss solving world issues. My dad was the manager of the trailer park I lived in and I noticed his lights were off. I thought at first of hitting my jake brake to inform him that I was home, but thought of the neighbors' possible protests. The neighbors had complained of my tractor being too noisy in the park when I first started parking there. So, wisely, I didn't push the issue.
My dad showed up in the morning with four others. "This is Kathy and her kids: Jeff, Samantha and Molly," he said, introducing my new neighbors. Kathy was a single mom who had moved into the trailer across from me while I was on the road. The thought immediately entered my mind that my parents were playing cupid and wanting a head start on more grandchildren. The children were fixated on my truck and almost jumped out of their pants when I told them they could go in. It was funny, I was home for less than a few hours and these children had already driven to New York City, Disneyland, California, Wal-Mart and back. If only I could drive that fast!
They instantly fell in love with Misery my feline warrior. Against my wishes they called her by the pansy name Misty. I instantly fell in love with the children. Kathy and the children went to the park with me and I liked the feeling I got being pictured as a family to onlookers. I liked the idea that those around would think I was Kathy's husband and the children's daddy. It made me feel as if I fit in. Is that what this whole life thing is about, trying to fit in? I thought to myself.
We all laughed as the Karen, the children and I played. I could swing the little one all day and not get tired. She screamed and laughed as she hit me, causing me to tumble and somersault over and over. To hear her giggle and beg, "A 'gin, A 'gin," I wondered how anyone could ever hurt or abuse a child. I forgot about image and played with the kids as if I was a big kid again. I had feelings as if I were human again and not a numbed robot. It felt good!
Sitting behind the steering wheel allowing the road to consume my life. That's my life story, I thought. It felt safe that way; no chances of being hurt, no arguments and no hurt feelings. It sure led to a lonely and uninteresting life. Most human contact was spent with other social introverts who were never taking a chance in relationships themselves. "Masks!" I thought. "We all live behind masks and are too scared to pull them off lest we be hurt." We hide behind the fake smiles and facade of well-being. I was tired of it all. Living in my own little world, guarded by a hidden wall, keeping others out, and never allowing another to penetrate too far into the fortress I created to protect myself from hurts. I was tired of pity parties and depression. I was just plain tired!
I was jolted away from my mental travels by the crying of Samantha from skinning her knee. My mind had taken off to its own little selfish world and Samantha's crying had brought me back to earth. Back on earth I was ready to marry Kathy just so I could have a family. What a reason to marry, I laughed to myself and then thought, is it a good reason? Why do people marry?
When it was time to go the children demonstrated loud protests. If I wasn't supposed to act like an adult, I would have joined their protests for this worthy cause. It had been awhile since I had that much fun. The children were bound with endless energy and joy and didn't want the playing to end. It was contagious because I had the same feelings. Wrestling the kids, chasing them and falling prey to their attacks--it gave me a desperate feeling of wanting to be a daddy.
The four days flew by, filled with children and conversation outside the realm of trucking. I was truly refreshed and actually ready to get moving again. I was saddened a little having to leave this time. Before this I worked hard to keep myself from any ties or restraints, as if moving would cleanse me of the loneliness bottled up inside. If it were possible, one single woman and her three children would be loaded into a semi to share the road with a lonely driver.
I did two things when I left which surprised both Kathy and me. First, I gave the children the cat and, second, I gave Kathy the keys to my car to use while I was on the road. I reasoned with myself that the car was just a waste not being used anyway. At least I knew Kathy and the children would have a mode of transportation. I thought how my parents would probably be smiling once they found out what I did. A closer step to their success as busy cupids. I smiled to myself thinking I wouldn't mind making them successful cupids.
When I saw the children waving and chasing me as I left, I was fully charged. I was also ready to take a chance with a relationship. Would I be heartbroken again?