The lonely road — downtime pursuits for sanity

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Updated Jun 23, 2020

Multiple semi-trucks parked in lot

Most of us have grown accustomed to the miles, to the rough roads, to the days that stretch into weeks, weeks into months, and months into years. A driver packs his bags, climbs into the cab and before he knows it a decade has passed. Time at home becomes more precious than air, but when it is time to go, we go. We do a job most do not want, but it is a vital job with a country depending upon our services, our commitment, our abilities. We find a way to make it happen, while trying to maintain our sanity in a symphony of chaos.

With ELDs, it becomes hard for me to keep track of the days, and date. Today, I mistakenly thought my load had to be there by 13:00, so I got up at one in the morning, deadheaded to my shipper hooked up to my preloaded trailer, took my break and then smoked the wheels to get to Ohio on time only to find out once I got there that instead of being 15 minutes early, I was 24 hours and 15 minutes early. Oh well. Better a day early than a day late, right?

Now, for me, having a whole day of downtime is rare. But considering all the irons I have in the fire, finding something to do (like write this piece) is not difficult. Still, at times, one needs to simply relax and de-stress.

For me, that looks like Bible study, prayer and meditation. Taking the dog out to play for a longer walk than normal. Getting some needed exercise, maintaining my self-defense preparation. Or else practicing my guitar, breaking out the paints, or sitting down with my computer, having no clear direction or plan, to simply put ideas, thoughts down for further effort. Before I taught myself how to use a computer, I went old-school with stone tablets scratching out song lyrics, poems or book ideas. One of these days I’ll have to transcribe them to the computer to keep track of easier.

All this got me to thinking about what the rest of you do to maintain sanity while on the road for days and weeks on end. I know some write songs, some carry their game consoles and spend hours playing their favorites. I have seen drivers at night in their cabs with laptops open and online when they probably should be sleeping (like me). Others still use the old-school methods of diversion and put their thoughts and feelings down on paper. It can be rare that they would share these with other drivers, though they may share them with someone they love.

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One of my friends who drives for Grassmid Transport out of Michigan happened to share something he wrote for his wife so she might understand the lonely nights spent on the road.

Below is what he wrote:

The Loneliness of a Driver, by Brian Rohde

Days turn to night and night turns to day
Snow turns to sleet as the sky gives way
Through twists and turns around mountains and streams
The trucker goes on to provide all your dreams
From the store to your house from the fridge to the table
The loneliness of the driver is no fairy tale fable
The life of the driver puts food on your table

Months at a time we leave our families behind
As we drive down the road destination unknown
A personal struggle to meet your desires
A lonely trucker driver running on eighteen tires
The struggle is real, does anyone care what we feel
As we sit here for hours alone with a steering wheel
Family at home, driver on the road trying to finish just one more load
Mile after mile, day after day
Asking the Lord for just one more day
As we leave back at home our kids and our wives
The lonely truck driver, this is our life.

Many of us can relate to how Brian feels, even if we don’t want to admit it. So, do what you can to keep your sanity. Keep your eyes on the prize, run your race the best you can, and when the endless nights or days begin to get to you, cherish the time you have with those you love.