It was the sudden jolt of the truck that woke me in the middle of the night. It was a windy evening in Oklahoma, where I gather almost every evening is windy. The sound is like being inside a giant Coke bottle with someone blowing across the top as the wind howls over the gaps between the tractor and trailer, and between the trailer and the ground. A shift in the direction of the wind changes the pitch of the howl, as the truck itself gets shoved back and forth by the gusts. I enjoy my accommodations just fine, but some nights are a bit more enjoyable than others. Still, I like running out west. I'll take the blowing wind of the west over the blowing horns and extended middle digits of the northeast any day.
The following morning, while making my way from the restaurant to the truck, I was assaulted by the most awful stench. The culprit was a cattle hauler, parked upwind from my truck. There were no cattle in the trailer, but they had left the documentation of their staff meeting behind and the wind was brusk. Well the chips were down, as they say, and I was rethinking the whole steak and eggs breakfast routine when I saw the driver of the cattle hauler and his companion make their way to their truck. The driver, wearing his obligatory cowboy boots and western shirt, had a large white cowboy hat on his head. The little boy walking next to him couldn't have been more than 5 years old. He wore tiny cowboy boots, and sported a white cowboy hat almost the size of his dad's. In fact, the hat seemed to swallow the boy's head so that it actually looked like a pair of boots with a hat on top, scurrying across the parking lot. Even a few of the other drivers stopped staring at their log books and maps long enough to enjoy the sight of that little guy walking as fast as he could to keep up with his pop. As the cattle hauler pulled out of the parking lot, all we could see on the passenger side of the cab was a big white cowboy hat poking up over the dash, with a little hand pointing the way out of the parking lot for his Dad. These are moments that I live for in this line of work.
A few minutes later, I pulled the rig onto the highway. The engine growled and the turbo screamed as ten gears slowly brought 80,000 pounds to highway speed. Thanks to the wonders of Pandora, on my smart phone, I heard Willie Nelson, Johnny Cash, Kris Kristoferson, Waylon Jennings sing "Highwayman" through the truck's stereo. On this day, it was tough to improve on that song, so I turned the music off and drove on with only the rhythm of the highway itself to keep me company. Thoughts wander at times like that. Thoughts of the roads in our lives, the decisions that we make that bring us to where we are today. Thoughts of family and friends, of good times and bad. Thoughts of where this coffee came from and what type of brake fluid they added to it this morning. Thoughts of gratitude for a life well lived and the knowledge that our freedom and our happiness don't come cheap.
Then, looking at the clock, I realized it was time for the ritual to begin. Time to start scanning podcasts, news casts, talk shows, etc., in an effort to stay on top of the news. Is Mitt cementing the deal? Is Newt scaring Obama? Has Obama declared the Senate in recess again and made a Supreme Court appointment? Has Mahmoud Ahmadinejad grown a funny little mustache? Has Pat Caddell had an aneurysm? Has some guy in a black robe made a ruling and taken more of my freedom today? It's almost dispiriting to sink one's mind into the abyss that is the news, especially after having soaked in the beauty of a such a good morning. To go from the quintessential American experience of driving a big rig in the west, to hearing that a President who gave us over 150 new agencies in a two-thousand page health care bill now wants to "streamline" government is to soil the mind and spirit. On the other hand, it is the steady neglect of important issues that has allowed the political class to play loose with the Constitution and steadily rob us of our national inheritance.
So the news goes on, the mind absorbs, and the fight is renewed. Ben Franklin famously said that the Framers gave us a republic, "….if you can keep it." I would maintain that we can keep it,…but only through doing the dirty work of staying informed and keeping the pressure on those we elect. Those who fashion themselves as our betters have made a mess that only a bull in a cattle hauler could envy. Now it's up to us, the citizens, to get our hands dirty and clean up the mess. The hour is late,…but not too late. We on the right have our disagreements at times, but perhaps it helps occasionally to look up from the minutia and focus on the primary goals of conservative governance; a government that protects the lives, property, and freedom of its citizens from foreign aggressors as well as from domestic busybodies. If we communicate this clearly, and expose for all to see the misery that the collectivist has brought everywhere his designs are imposed, we might just have a shot at saving the country. Meanwhile, I need to start parking upwind of the cattle haulers.