The Truck Driver

 

The trucker who lives next door is seldom home.

He’s a long-haul trucker, he’s over-the-road. He earns good money and does not spend. There’s something ascetic about him. He’s forty-five. His hair is long. He wears jeans and combat boots. Sallow and haggard, his face is handsome nevertheless. His willowy wife does not ride with him but stays at home. They have no children. The wife is solitary, long-legged and tan. She has a ponytail of sandy-brown. She smokes Marlboros. They do not rent but own. The wife spends hours in her garden, or she reads in her backyard. Her eyes are pensive. She waves to us but rarely speaks.

The trucker who lives next door arrives at unexpected hours, on unexpected days. Emerging from his rig, he has the leanness of a desert prophet about him. I imagine him eating very little while he’s out on the road. He transports the goods from north-to-south. He hauls the freight from coast-to-coast. He kisses his wife in the driveway. They hold hands and enter their tidy cottage together. They shut the door behind.

Sometimes, on holidays, his rig will sit for three or four consecutive nights along this residential side street. It sits gleaming in the dark. The trucker loves his rig. It is his home away from home. Once, in the middle of the night, I heard a gentle noise outside and crept up to the window. The trucker who lives next door was polishing his semi in the moonlight. The semi is midnight blue and chrome.

Here on the ragged edge of this desert town where the ancient railroad tracks lie rusting in the grass, the frontiers begin. These are the frontiers the trucker crosses and recrosses year-round. Our town is like many western towns, with its looping river and cauliflower clouds, its one Masonic lodge and the hard clean skies above, and in the distance, fields of clay where woolly mammoth and dinosaur once knelt down in the soft earth to die, and a billion bison bones fossilize in the ground.

Beyond the backyards, the interstate curves off into the intricate horizon, and the distant cars make very little sound.

There are 52 comments.

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  1. Jules PA Inactive
    Jules PA
    @JulesPA

    Like. Much.

    • #1
  2. Ray Harvey Inactive
    Ray Harvey
    @RayHarvey

    Jules PA (View Comment):
    Like. Much.

    Like. You. Much.

    Thank. You.

    Much.

    • #2
  3. MJBubba Inactive
    MJBubba
    @MJBubba

    It can be a really difficult life on the road.  I never drove a truck farther than the end of a big parking lot, but Dad was in the trucking bidness and was friends with a number of drivers.  They would joke and laugh about all sorts of awful things that happen on the road.  There is a kinship of truckers.   They are pretty conservative, too; they count their time in terms of cents per mile.

    • #3
  4. MJBubba Inactive
    MJBubba
    @MJBubba

    “If you’ve got it, a truck brought it.”

    • #4
  5. Scott Wilmot Member
    Scott Wilmot
    @ScottWilmot

    Another American story!

    • #5
  6. PHCheese Inactive
    PHCheese
    @PHCheese

    Depending on what he is driving and hauling he has an investment somewhere north of $ 250,000. It’s no wonder he gives it midnight shines. Good writing.

    • #6
  7. MLH Inactive
    MLH
    @MLH

    @davecarter

    • #7
  8. Dave Carter Podcaster
    Dave Carter
    @DaveCarter

    Beautifully written, Ray.  I drove over the road for 11  years after retiring from the military.  For a large portion of that time, I let my hair grow long, wore jeans, combat boots and sleepless shirts.  It was a good fit for a vet, and the experiences could fill several books.  Over 11 years over the road, I drove over a million miles, through 47 of the lower 48 states, and was the beneficiary of an education that only life on the road can provide.  You encapsulated wonderfully the essence of the sort of dynamic which characterizes that lifestyle in many instances.  Thank you sir.

    • #8
  9. Ray Harvey Inactive
    Ray Harvey
    @RayHarvey

    Scott Wilmot (View Comment):
    Another American story!

    I had this whole Americana series planned.

    It’s proving a little more difficult than I initially anticipated, and I was even reconsidering the whole idea, but the reception here on Ricochet has given me a shot in the arm.

    • #9
  10. Ray Harvey Inactive
    Ray Harvey
    @RayHarvey

    Dave Carter (View Comment):
    Beautifully written, Ray. I drove over the road for 11 years after retiring from the military. For a large portion of that time, I let my hair grow long, wore jeans, combat boots and sleepless shirts. It was a good fit for a vet, and the experiences could fill several books. Over 11 years over the road, I drove over a million miles, through 47 of the lower 48 states, and was the beneficiary of an education that only life on the road can provide. You encapsulated wonderfully the essence of the sort of dynamic which characterizes that lifestyle in many instances. Thank you sir.

    Thank you, sir.

    Your comment means a great deal to me.

    • #10
  11. Ray Harvey Inactive
    Ray Harvey
    @RayHarvey

    PHCheese (View Comment):
    Depending on what he is driving and hauling he has an investment somewhere north of $ 250,000. It’s no wonder he gives it midnight shines. Good writing.

    I thought of that too!

    Thank you.

    • #11
  12. Jules PA Inactive
    Jules PA
    @JulesPA

    Ray Harvey (View Comment):

    Scott Wilmot (View Comment):
    Another American story!

    I had this whole Americana series planned.

    It’s proving a little more difficult than I initially anticipated, and I was even reconsidering the whole idea, but the reception here on Ricochet has given me a shot in the arm.

    You must do it. They are like savory vignettes.

    Btw, The truck picture reminds me of a bottle of Blue Coat Gin. ?

    • #12
  13. Ray Harvey Inactive
    Ray Harvey
    @RayHarvey

    Jules PA (View Comment):

    Ray Harvey (View Comment):

    Scott Wilmot (View Comment):
    Another American story!

    I had this whole Americana series planned.

    It’s proving a little more difficult than I initially anticipated, and I was even reconsidering the whole idea, but the reception here on Ricochet has given me a shot in the arm.

    You must do it. They are like savory vignettes.

    Btw, The truck picture reminds me of a bottle of Blue Coat Gin. ?

    By God, it does look like the Bluecoat bottle! I’d not noticed that before.

    • #13
  14. Jules PA Inactive
    Jules PA
    @JulesPA

    Ray Harvey (View Comment):

    Jules PA (View Comment):

    Ray Harvey (View Comment):

    Scott Wilmot (View Comment):
    Another American story!

    I had this whole Americana series planned.

    It’s proving a little more difficult than I initially anticipated, and I was even reconsidering the whole idea, but the reception here on Ricochet has given me a shot in the arm.

    You must do it. They are like savory vignettes.

    Btw, The truck picture reminds me of a bottle of Blue Coat Gin. ?

    By God, it does look like the Bluecoat bottle! I’d not noticed that before.

    Made me thirsty. ??

    • #14
  15. drlorentz Member
    drlorentz
    @drlorentz

    Salt of the earth, those folks.

    • #15
  16. Ray Harvey Inactive
    Ray Harvey
    @RayHarvey

    drlorentz (View Comment):
    Salt of the earth, those folks.

    And the life-blood.

    Have you ever seen the documentary Big Rig?

    • #16
  17. drlorentz Member
    drlorentz
    @drlorentz

    Ray Harvey (View Comment):

    drlorentz (View Comment):
    Salt of the earth, those folks.

    And the life-blood.

    Have you ever seen the documentary Big Rig?

    I’ll check it out, thanks.

    • #17
  18. Trinity Waters Inactive
    Trinity Waters
    @TrinityWaters

    This post was a breath of fresh air this afternoon.  Excellent writing that makes one want to know these people.

    • #18
  19. drlorentz Member
    drlorentz
    @drlorentz

    Ray Harvey (View Comment):
    Have you ever seen the documentary Big Rig?

    I’m about halfway through the movie now. All I can think is that I’d rather be governed by a bunch of truckers like the folks featured in that movie than by a bunch of Beltway insiders. [Apologies to W.F. Buckley.]

    • #19
  20. doulalady Member
    doulalady
    @doulalady

    Wow, great read. Like poetry.

    • #20
  21. Trink Coolidge
    Trink
    @Trink

    I’m late to this, but no less wide-eyed for having done so.

    Those last lines several lines . . . .

     

     

    • #21
  22. H. Noggin Inactive
    H. Noggin
    @HNoggin

    That was nice, the quietness and isolation of their lives.  Thanks.

    Do more please!

    By the way, when I visited the Herradura Hacienda in Tequila, our guide demonstrated how to tell real tequila from the headache.  If you shake the bottle and the tequila turns cloudy and stays that way a little while, it has “other” alcohols in it.  Also, the bad stuff is sticky or slightly slimy to the touch.  Good tequila is like water on your fingers.

    Handy info, I thought.

     

    • #22
  23. RJ Clark Inactive
    RJ Clark
    @RJClark

    I dream of the fulfillment of driving a truck after I retire from the emptiness of the corporate grind. Look forward to more of this writing, Ray!

    • #23
  24. drlorentz Member
    drlorentz
    @drlorentz

    RJ Clark (View Comment):
    I dream of the fulfillment of driving a truck after I retire from the emptiness of the corporate grind. Look forward to more of this writing, Ray!

    One of the drivers featured in the documentary Big Rig did exactly that: corporate VP to driver.

    • #24
  25. RJ Clark Inactive
    RJ Clark
    @RJClark

    drlorentz (View Comment):

    RJ Clark (View Comment):
    I dream of the fulfillment of driving a truck after I retire from the emptiness of the corporate grind. Look forward to more of this writing, Ray!

    One of the drivers featured in the documentary Big Rig did exactly that: corporate VP to driver.

    Thanks for the info. As soon as I read your post, I clicked the link and started watching the documentary! I’m stuck in a hotel tonight so this is just what the DOCTOR ordered.

    • #25
  26. Ray Gunner Coolidge
    Ray Gunner
    @RayGunner

    Great imagery, RH.  I think you just started a Cormac McCarthy novel.

    • #26
  27. Jules PA Inactive
    Jules PA
    @JulesPA

    Well, Mr. Ray Harvey, congratulations on a well deserved main feed!

     

    • #27
  28. Pugshot Member
    Pugshot
    @Pugshot

    Really, really good – like all great writing, it provokes so many questions. I would definitely encourage you to continue your proposed Americana series.

    • #28
  29. Ray Harvey Inactive
    Ray Harvey
    @RayHarvey

    Trinity Waters (View Comment):
    This post was a breath of fresh air this afternoon. Excellent writing that makes one want to know these people.

    Thank you very much.

    • #29
  30. Ray Harvey Inactive
    Ray Harvey
    @RayHarvey

    RJ Clark (View Comment):

    drlorentz (View Comment):

    RJ Clark (View Comment):
    I dream of the fulfillment of driving a truck after I retire from the emptiness of the corporate grind. Look forward to more of this writing, Ray!

    One of the drivers featured in the documentary Big Rig did exactly that: corporate VP to driver.

    Thanks for the info. As soon as I read your post, I clicked the link and started watching the documentary! I’m stuck in a hotel tonight so this is just what the DOCTOR ordered.

    Fortuitous and really cool, @rjclark

    • #30
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