Popcorn

Today is day 34 (or by the company’s count, day 30) of my odyssey, and still I haven’t made it to the Northwest. From Maryland we went to Illinois and Minnesota, which seemed like a promising start, but then we got sent down to Dolores, Texas to watch NAFTA at work. How does it work? Slowly.

We’ve made multiple calls to the powers that be, too, pleading for any load at all that will send us west. Surely, we thought, we could swap loads with someone barreling along on I80. Then, working our way south, yesterday we sat around for a few hours along I40, still hoping for that magic call. It didn’t come.

It’s a good thing that DOT regulations prohibit firearms in trucks, because otherwise, if we get sent east again I will be tempted to shoot myself. In my bleaker moments I think of the Ancient Mariner. No, I didn’t shoot an albatross. (Remember? No firearms.) Nor am I responsible for any of the armadillos that decorate the sides of the roads in Texas and Oklahoma. There was that turtle, however. Surely I haven’t been sentenced to eternity for one inadvertently squashed turtle. If I could have safely avoided him I certainly would have.

Whatever the holdup, I guess I’m resigned to being jounced around like a piece of popcorn for, at the very least, another four days. That’s what it’s like to be back in the sleeper berth when the truck is in motion. The seats up front are pneumatic, and do a fine job of smoothing out the ride. Plus, when sitting up front you can see the road ahead, which makes a huge difference. In back, the bumps and jolts hit you at random right through a thin foam mattress. It’s a wonder anyone gets any sleep at all. Even relaxation is a relative term.

You can sleep, once you get used to it, on your side facing forward, back tight against the rear wall, knees bent to brace you against deceleration. You can not sleep on your side facing backwards, as every time the truck hits a bump or the driver hits the brakes or even lets up on the accelerator threatens to pitch you forward and out onto the floor. The best position has turned out to be on my back. I’ve never been a back sleeper before, but I have something about adaptability, in this business, if nothing else. On your back, with feet apart and braced against the side of the truck, with both elbows akimbo as additional outriggers, you are safe from all but the most severe bounces and changes in velocity. For mile after mile, sleeping the sleep of the damned, comfortable as popcorn.

 

 

 

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