Here’s another story bit that I don’t know what to do with. This is intended to be the introduction to a book titled 3,000 Miles. We’ll see if I get beyond this. For now, here’s something to think about.
3,000 Miles: Meet & Greet
You don’t know me. There’s no reason you would. If you saw me in a store you might think you know me. Or think at least you’d met me. I would seem vaguely familiar. But we’ve never met. Trust me on this.
At most, you may have passed me on an Interstate somewhere. Maybe at some point, in a hurry from one place to another, you had to pass one of those lumbering tractor-trailers that was struggling to climb a hill. You got stuck behind the son of a bitch because none of your fellow motorists would let you over. When you finally did get out, you went tearing down the side of that truck with your 4-cylinder engine screaming. And and as you came alongside the cab you leaned over the passenger seat so that the truck driver could see you glaring at him.
If he stared back at you with a blank expression, wholely unimpressed by your display, maybe looking somewhat wistful as if he envied you the luxury of your stupidity … well, that might have been me. Nice to have met you.
I am many things. I’m sure you had your own impression. Being behind the wheel of a tractor-trailer, you’d think that I an uneducated, unwashed, wife-beating racist redneck. You’d be wrong. On some points more than others. If you’ll indulge me, I’ll examine your assumptions and back my way up the list.
I an no redneck. Not if your idea of a redneck is some inbred hillbilly who fucks his sister. I have a few cousins I would have liked to have had a chance at, but who doesn’t? No, I come from a good family. Well, a good mother. The grandson of a Baptist preacher that all the old folks speak of in reverential terms (no pun intended), but who died before I was born. I only mention this because there are certain familial standards that are necessarily observed. If you still think I’m a redneck because I’m from the South (North Carolina, by the grace of God), then on behalf of Southerners everywhere, I’d like to say “Fuck ya.”
I’m certainly not a racist. In my experiance most human beings, regardless of race, religion or political affiliation are equally worthless, self-obsessed assholes who waste the oxygen it takes to keep them alive. When I was a kid I had lots of black friends. It wasn’t until we got older and were taught by popular culture that I, being white, was the descendant of the oppressor and slave master (demon spawn of the white devil) that we parted ways and went to live in our respective camps. Although it’s very different now, there weren’t really any Hispanics or Asians living in my area when I was a kid. So if I exclude them, it’s not racism. They just weren’t around. The only non-black “ethnic” person I knew growing up was a grumpy Jew named Don Kistler whose apparent duties as ambassador of the Jewish faith involved pissing off as many Christians as he could. Well, actually, come to think of it, he seemed to be an equal opportunity pisser-offer. In fact, it’s quite possible he wound up in exile in my little corner of the world because he’d pissed off too many Jews wherever he was from. In short, returning to my original point, Don Kistler was an asshole. Being Jewish, in my mind, had nothing to do with it.
What was next? Oh! Wife-beating. No. I never beat my wife. Sometimes I think I should have. If ever I’ve met a woman that needed a good ass-whipping, it was my wife. Maybe if I’d smacked her around some and taught her who her lord and master was, she wouldn’t have left me for another man (after trying on a couple of others for size). Maybe I would still have a house and home. Or a car. Or the bulk of my belongings that I had to give away because I had nowhere to store them. Maybe I wouldn’t be living out of this truck, walking down to mother’s apartment on the weekends with my laptop computer in a backpack slung over my shoulder, and my dirty clothes in a travel bag that I would be paying my mother to wash. Maybe if I’d hit my wife she would have respected me or at least feared me enough that she wouldn’t infer to her friends that I was an unreasonable taskmaster because I actually hoped and expected that she might play online video games less and occasionally wash a dish or pick up her clothes out of the floor. No, the only time I ever raised my hand to a woman was when, as a teenager during an argument with my mother, I lightly slapped my mother like I’d seen men do in the movies when dealing with hysterical women. Brother, did Mama ever show me the error of of my ways (she nearly killed me). I’m 42 years old and have never raised a hand to a woman since. Not out of fear of doing so, but out of respect. Even when I married a woman who may not have been tamed any other way.
As for the unwashed part … well, you might have something there. In the past few days I’ve driven almost 2,000 miles. I’ve been balls-to-the-wall since I hit the road on Sunday. As much as I would like to shower every morning and every night, that’s usually not possible. I offer my apologies to the yuppies standing in line with me at McDonald’s. But if you had gone as far as I have today, you wouldn’t be so fresh, either. Remember that road trip you took to Florida on vacation last year? It was around six hundred miles. And when you got there you just wanted to take a shower and collapse into a bed? Well, I’ve done that three times since Sunday. It’s Wednesday morning in Henderson, NC. I have to be in Sheperdsville, KY by 10 pm tonight. I won’t have time for a shower today, either. When I get to where I’m going I’ll be choosing between a shower and sleep. Since I am already tired, I think the sleep may win out again. I drive when I must. I sleep when I can. I shower when possible.
The last bit is the most contentious. Uneducated. I freely admit that I’m a high school drop-out. I’ve been tested at various times as having an IQ of 144 to a high of 158. Yet when I was in junior high school, through a series of mistakes on both my part and that of school administrators, I wound up in remedial classes, going over and over again concepts I had learned in the first and second grades. You know. Addition. Subtraction. Multiplication. Division. By the end of the year we might even get to some of the advanced sixth grade level concepts like fractions. Needless to say, I was bored out of my mind. I never understood why my supposedly intelligent teachers never pieced it together. They all said I could do better if I tried. After all, I made 100s on all my tests. I just wouldn’t do my homework. No one ever asked why. Eventually I reached a point where I was so bored that I moved on. But call me uneducated? No. In defiance of my remedial class teachers I educated myself. I may not have the paperwork to prove my education, but when some diploma-fied idiot starts pondering aloud why, oh why, do the Arabs hate those of us in the West, I can explain it to them, starting with the Crusades, working up through the establishment of Israel to U.S. support of the Shah of Iran to the West varied diddlings in Iraq. If that’s not enough to convince you, look up “quarks”, “ion propulsion” and “crystal storage technology”. I drive a truck because life left me no other real option. Not because I’m too stupid to do anything else. And I have to say that after driving for eight years, it’s rather apparent to me that the dumbest people on the road are not the people in the tractor-trailers. You don’t drive a forty ton vehicle for any length of time without killing yourself if you’re an idiot.
Okay. Now you know a little bit about me. Or at least who I am in comparison to who you thought I was. If you’re interested, from here we’ll get into who I really. Who I was before I started driving. Who I hope to be tomorrow and next year and beyond. I can’t promise that every part of it will be interesting. But I’ll at least try to make it entertaining.
One thing that you should keep in mind is that while I am a real person and everything I write here is based upon my life, I have chosen to present these thoughts in a fictionalized form. Hell, I’m not even using my real name. This gives me plausible deniability. That way I can talk trash about various friends, family and associates. If they should recognize themselves, I can say “Hey, it’s a work of fiction.”
It’s probably best if you assume that everything you read from here on out is fiction. After all, “lie” is such an ugly word.
In closing, I will leave you with a few thoughts.
1) Old trucker proverb. “How do you tell a truck driver is lying? His lips will move.”
2) “Arguing with a truck driver is like wrestling with a pig in the mud. After a while you realize that he likes it.”