I bumped into one of my old trucking buddies at the terminal up North last week. You might go two years before you see someone you know around here; then you might see them again a week later. We’re paid to run, not visit; then e-logs came along and compounded all that even further.
Conversations around the yard seem to be more terse now. Everybody’s on that clock. I met “Tom,” as he shall here be called here, down in Florida a few years ago during the paper log days. He seemed like a nice-enough guy. He’d been out here a while and had a reputation as a good runner. Ol’ Tom walked up to me by the trailer bay like he had something on his mind. “Heard you been pullin’ a milk tanker?”
“Yes sir,”I said.
“Guess we’re gonna have to start calling you ‘Short Haul Paul’ now.”
I chuckled — seemed like he’d had that round in the chamber awhile. I’m not sure when length-of-haul shaming with phallic undertones became a thing, but it’s not like I’ve joined the Jehovah’s Witnesses. Still, since we’re on the topic, let me go on record here to say: To the nethers with the long haul. There are just too many good regional opportunities available now to make it hard to justify the fight with the ELD/parking shortage/erosion of road manners vortex. Increases in pay make these little two-day out-and-backers on par with what long-haul work paid just a few years ago.
With any luck, I may never be forced by that clock-in-the-box into Atlanta-rush-hour traffic again.
Yes, there are times I miss the warmth of Florida and getting my weekly Vitamin D fix, but there was something in an old book I almost read all the way through once about an ol’ boy, name of Moses, choosing to suffer affliction with the people of God rather than enjoying the pleasures of sin for a season.
So, if staying in the cold all Winter is the good Lord’s plan for me, then so be it.
If it sounds like I’m trying to talk myself into something, you may be right. Truth is, Denise, my wife of 37 years, fell a couple times last Winter, once while carrying in firewood, once on the icy, unshoveled steps of our home, all this while I was working somewhere South of Interstate 4. I found myself lying to her more than once last year when she would ask me what the weather was like in Winter Haven.
“Chilly,” I’d respond, knowing full well it was 73 and sunny.
Well, some do call that chilly in Florida. Still, the adjustment is going fairly well. So far, Denise has carried in a total of one arm-load of wood all Winter. As for me being home four nights a week, she’s making the best of it. It’s not easy when you’ve been that independent for over 30 years to field multiple suggestions from someone you rarely used to see. Living alone became as much of a skill set for her as it did for me, I suppose.
She’s only threatened to call the police on me that one time. This could work; you never know.