There are certain jobs deemed essential to the orderly running of the world, which, by their nature, doom those who perform them to a life that is to a varying extent cut off from the world they make possible. Soldier, secret service agent, long haul trucker.
When feeling sorry for itself, the trucking industry is fond of pointing out how all the shoppers, out in their cars (or ‘4-wheelers’ as they’re known in the trade), cutting us off in traffic and complaining about all the damned trucks in the way, clogging up their roads, would have nothing to shop for without all those damned trucks delivering goods from factories to stores. Perfectly true, and you can break out the violins and play the saddest song you like for all the good it will do you.
Fact is, we are in the way. We’re seventy feet long and so wide you can park your SUV inside our trailers. Even along designated truck routes it can take us three lanes to negotiate a turn. Finding a parking place can be hell.
As I write this I am parked on the side of the road in a light industrial area, outside of Annapolis Junction, MD., with 39,000 pounds of lettuce from Mexico. Delivery time was 7AM, though now that I’m here they say they will not unload me until 3. Had I known this earlier I could have stopped in a rest area back in the Blue Ridge country, gone for a walk in the woods, taken a nap under the trees. Now that I am here, I’m stuck in my truck for at least the next eight hours.
It would be nice to drop the trailer, bobtail into Annapolis Junction and explore the town. (To bobtail is to drive without a trailer attached.) Unfortunately, I cannot leave my load unattended on the street, and the receiver will not let me on the yard until appointment time. Whatever delights Annapolis Junction may have to offer (a museum, perhaps, or a bookshop, or a library, a cool quiet place to sit and read a book) remain closed to me.
Wouldn’t you like some of that fresh, crispy lettuce? I sure would like to get it off my truck. As soon as I do I will send an ‘empty at final’ message to my company, and they will assign me another load. I will kiss Annapolis Junction and its untasted delights goodbye.
This mild eight-hour inconvenience is a perfectly normal event in the life of a trucker. We spend an inordinate amount of time sitting around in uncomfortable, out-of-the-way places, sitting in our hot and stuffy (did I mention that it is hot, in Maryland, in the summertime?) truck cabs and waiting, while the rest of the world sits around dining room tables enjoying its fresh, crisp lettuce salads.