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Guest ContributionsOn the Road with Mike MurchisonOpinion/Column

This is for all the lonely Drivers

Photo: Mike Murchison

by Mike Murchison

Yup! You get lonely out here. Lot of Drivers do. Its predictable and usually unavoidable.

Away from the family, the friends. Away from the home. That place where you unwind with the people you’re lonely for out on the road.

They don’t call it “long haul” trucking for nothing. Its a long haul when you do it alone. Day in and day out.

I think for many, you feel it at night the most when you’re tired, looking for a place to park. Your body sore and you need to unload the day.

That’s one good thing about cell phones, messaging, Skype and every other technical form of communicating that’s out there. We have a way of easing that loneliness to a degree.

There’s still those who wander into the truck stop tv lounge and are willing to chat things up. But thanks to technologies, we have become somewhat “anti- social” towards others in regard to “in person” socializing.

Seems we like to stay in our little cocoon of a truck and tap away on the keyboard or talk away on the phone. But that’s how many deal with the loneliness.

But you know when its all said and done, that ping of loneliness never quite eases off. It stays. Some days its worse than others simply because we are lacking that person, those people who have what it takes to help us loose that loneliness. Even if its just until we have to head back out on another run.

I find Winter the worst. You’re out there in the cold, the wind and everything else it can throw at you.

You wake up. Still dark. You peek out the bunk only to see 3 inches of snow on your hood and more still falling. Bleak, cold and what seems a very far distance from home.

That’s when the loneliness hits the hardest. If that “special someone” were there with you it would take the edge off. But they are not and that’s the way it is. Heaven help you if you want to make a phone call to talk with someone but you don’t have a strong enough cell signal.

Those cold days are the hardest. As short as the daylight hours are, nonetheless, they are long. What you wouldn’t give to be home with that person or those that take that loneliness away.

We’ve got the tunes, the satellite radio and not often, if we have another Driver we are on chatting terms with, the ole’ CB radio. But that more often than not isn’t used much these days.

Those who follow the Christian faith can remind themselves of the scripture found in Deuteronomy 31:6

where the Lord said, “I will never leave nor forsake you.”

That’s all good, but even with that bit of comfort, the loneliness still can persist. It can for many be a little too much to handle.

Especially with new Drivers who aren’t used to the isolation. Throw in landscapes and cities (big cities) they’ve never been to. Long days, big equipment. That’s a lot on the plate when you’re out there alone.

How do the seasoned Drivers do it? I guess over the years they’ve found ways to cope. Ways of keeping their minds on the tasks of the day, the job at hand. But I’m sure if they are anything like me, even they get sucker punched now and then, during the course of the day.

If they are anything like me, they are on the “turn around” working there way back home mile after mile. Chompin’ on the bit to get to that place that is so full of warmth there isn’t any room for loneliness.

When you first start cutting your teeth in this business it’s new, exciting. One big blast of adventure and a wild learning curve.

But as the miles roll over and a few years get notched in the belt, the adventure can give way sometimes to that shadow that loneliness often casts.

You miss things at home. Family things. Kids grow up fast, things change quick. And sometimes you wonder if what you’re doing is worth it. Especially on those cold days. Those days when things break down and it seems every force in the Universe is against you.

I guess its on those days when you realize just how precious a set of arms are or how a warm familiar smile can be considered priceless.

Are we “heroes” for what we do out here? I don’t know about that. But we are people. People who can and do feel isolated, excluded and lonely. Trying to do a job that most people wouldn’t consider “normal.” And, yeah! The big majority of us just go do the job. With the good and the bad it carries with it.

Home feels like a million miles away some days. But it’s out there waiting for guys and gals like me to get back to it. We owe it to ourselves and those waiting to be the best we can be to make it back.

“This is for all the lonely people
thinking that life has past them by
Don’t give up until you drink from the silver cup
and ride that highway to the sky.”
America
(circa 1974)