A Lifetime of Altered Plans

People who’s opinions of the truck driving lifestyle are based on movies and television shows and the thousands of trucks that whiz by them everyday on the highway, have very little idea of what is involved.
I know many people have a rather romanticized vision of a free and easy lifestyle. Gypsies of the highway, seeing lots of glorious scenery, meeting dozens of interesting people, not chained to a desk, etc.
While those things are all true to a certain degree they are mostly offset by years of disappointments and compromise.

Longhaul drivers seldom get to attend their children’s school or sporting events. They miss out on countless birthday and anniversary celebrations, piano and dance recitals, weddings, graduations and even funerals. Scheduling doctor and dentist appointments is a nightmare, especially in these days of two and three month waiting periods. Heaven forbid you should be so foolish as to spend money in advance for an expensive event like a concert or visiting entertainer.

It is very common to be on the road for 2 to 4 weeks and finally get a load which is at least headed in the direction of home. You can inform your dispatcher several days in advance that you wish to go home for a couple of days after this delivery.

You can spend your time as you get closer and closer to home, mulling over how you intend to use your limited home time. You can makes lists of things you would like to accomplish. Your wife will definitely be working on her Honey-Do list. And then, when you can almost smell the home-cooked meal and feel the comfort of your favorite armchair, once again your plans are altered.

“Sorry we don’t have a load to take you the rest of the way home. But, if you’ll take this one more load to (fill in the blank) we’ll see if we can get you home from there.

Many will say, “Well you chose your career. You shouldn’t complain.” Yes that’s partly true but as many of you know, you don’t always choose your career, sometimes it chooses you. Believe me after doing this for most of the last 40 years, if I could have made a decent living at almost anything else I would have. I tried more than once.

Government agencies are constantly coming up with new legislation to force us to stay out more and more days at a time to earn the same income as we did in the past.

Don’t get me wrong. I realize everybody has things that cause them to change their plans from time to time. However most of them have several other evenings this week or weekends this month to make up for it.

No it hasn’t been all bad. There are things about trucking I enjoy. There are even lots of things I don’t mind too much. But there are an awful lot of things that I and my family have missed out on over the years.

The correct song title should have been, Mama’s Don’t Let Your Babies Grow Up To Be Truckers.

Smart Cars?

I assume when they named the Smart Car they were referring to the technology involved which allowed low energy consumption and economy.

I say that because “smart” certainly doesn’t describe most of the owners and drivers of these weather proof golf carts.

From what I’ve read, the Smart Car was designed for city driving. I cringe whenever I see some fool booting down the freeway at 110 kph, tailgating big trucks and darting in and out across 6 lanes of traffic. I can only assume these people have a death wish or are just totally oblivious to the danger.

The Smart Car is touted as the most fuel efficient car available in North America today. That may be true but at what cost? The price ranges between $16,000 and $20,000 in Canada for a 2 seater that is little more than two motorcycles tied together in a shell.

The Smart Car boasts fuel mileage of 46.3 mpg city and 68.9 mpg highway. But, only two passengers and maybe a bag of groceries.

Twenty years ago we owned a 1988 Pontiac Firefly that would carry 5 adults and a dozen bags of groceries and consistently got 60 mpg. Even though it weighed 2000 lbs plus payload we drove it sensibly and gave big trucks a wide berth.

At 1609 lbs the Smart Car doesn’t weigh as much as the tires on my rig and displaces only half the volume of those tires, yet many of these Smart Car fools drive like they’re at Taladaga.

Of course many people drive like idiots regardless of what kind of car they drive, but given the fact these cars score only 3 out of 5 on collision tests you would think the drivers would be a little smarter in how they drive them.

An Awakening World

It is with great interest that I’ve been listening to the news coming out of the middle east lately. My estimation of the Egyptian people has risen ten fold since they finally rose up and threw off the bonds of dictatorship.

And now more and more countries are following the Egyptian example. Its about time political leaders and rulers the world over were made to realize that power gained by violence is no power at all.

It is unfortunate that so many people have to lose their lives in the struggle for freedom, but in my estimation even death is more freedom than what some of them have been living under.

I have never been very political but I find what I’m hearing in the news very heartening. If I found myself living in a regime such as these I too would do whatever it took to gain freedom for my fellow man.

I guess all of our lives in countries like Canada and the USA we have taken for granted the freedoms we enjoy. Freedom of speech, access to jobs, ownership of homes and businesses and so many other simple everyday freedoms that we accept as our birthright.

I for one, applaud the efforts of these new seekers of democracy and pray for their success. No price is too high to pay for the dignity of the human race.