Though there’s an illustration of a truck (and an outhouse and so much more) on the excellent front cover (illustration by Wendy’s father-in-law), there’s not a bird, not a plane, not Superman on the back but a UFO, appropriately, the galactic light below it beaming up lord only knows what.
Somewhere in there’s a metaphor for the joy I feel in being able to present to you what could only happen here on Overdrive, the debut of George & Wendy Show writer Wendy Parker‘s 100,000 Miles of Crazy: Adventures from the Road with George and Wendy, out now. The book’s essentially a compendium of some of the first installments of Wendy’s blog, which I’ve been editing since we first brought her blog onto Overdrive at some point in that first year. And: boy does it bring up some memories.
If you’ve read Parker’s blog, you’ll know that it’s personal, much of the time — she brings a distinct perspective to everything she writes, and her storyteller’s sense is finely honed. To read her is to be her in certain sense, in all the horror, neurosis, good humor and love for life. (Or at least to travel along with her as a kind of sidekick, for those less inclined to virtually shape-shift.)
Reading this book for me is thus like traveling back through a part of my own life over the last five years, to a certainly weird extent. For folks who’ve come to Overdrive and Wendy’s work only recently, it’s also a good opportunity to revisit in a single package how it all started, which she spells out in the intro (as if narrated in Samuel L. Jackson voiceover, of course). She went out on the road with her owner-operator husband, George, for the first time out of a hope to reconnect at a rocky time — and with nothing better to do, truthfully, after a surgery on her hand left her unable to continue the long-term-care nursing work she was doing. And then as Wendy tells it in the book’s intro:
More than circumstance, or luck, or anything else, I have my mom to thank for the chronicles of our travels. She was absolutely horrified at the thought of her nurse-daughter hanging out in (gasp) truck stops. To quell her fears, I promised to stay close to George, and I started a little scrapbook/diary of our travels, to show her we were safe and things were going well.
Little did I know the diary would become a weekly feature in Overdrive trucking magazine, and I would change careers from being a nurse to being a writer for an industry I knew next to nothing about.
That last part didn’t last very long, of course, as we know. Wendy’s seen and well known the good, the bad and the ugly all around trucking in the five years since, and more than a little of all of it you’ll find here — most of it good for a laugh, too. As Wendy writes in the intro — “laughter is the best medicine to cure what ails you.” I know no one in trucking with a more gut-bustingly awesome sense of humor, I’ll say. It’s been a pleasure editing out all those cuss words all these years and (Shh… –ed.) leaving a few in …Wendy tells me she decided to put the book together “after following some of the highlighted links you put in posts to references from previous posts. I ended up following them back to the one about automatic hell, and they all made me laugh to read them again. I laughed until I cried, and had very distinctly happy memories when I read the ‘Hang on to your spleen’ piece,” which narrates Wendy’s bout with the African flesh-eating flu of the 2012-13 winter. “I figured if they make me laugh again, my readers might enjoy having a little book where they can easily access some of my favorites.”
While she’d love to “get all deep and say it’s a project I thought about for years,” she says, it’s really the “perfect bathroom book, because the stories are short and it doesn’t matter if you lose your place.” Of course, her marketing friends “have frowned upon” promoting it as such. “They’d prefer me to say it’s the perfect travel book, out just in time for spring break travelers, but I ain’t gonna lie, a copy will more than likely end up in my bathroom.”
Mine too. You can pick up yours via this link.