A night in the Neighborhood
There is something freeing when, after darkness falls and rush hour is over, night comes and covers everything in its black mantle. Hidden from view are the drought-ridden fields, the peeling houses and barns, and the empty warehouses. With the darkness, traffic thins as folk nestle into their houses; eating supper and getting ready for bed. As a driver, you can relax a little, kicking back and riding and guiding along the road that fades into black ahead of the headlights.
Looking upwards out of the windshield, the stars look so near that you could reach out and pick a handful. Little blips of red and green identify highflying aircraft. Off in the distance, lightening flickers along the horizon creating a wonderful show of pastel colors against the black of the sky for you to enjoy. You wonder if tonight will be the night you see a UFO or a shooting star. Yep, there goes a shooting star in all of its Vaseline colored light shooting diagonally across the sky; you quickly make a wish.
There are perils though outside the gleam of the headlights. Suddenly, a shadow darts in front of you: a deer! You hit the brakes, never swerving, knowing that you will take a life and damage your truck that night; it is better to hit the deer than wrecking in the ditch or worse. Ah, but no, the deer made it across the road. You relax once again, but just until a fat raccoon stops on the fog line to wait for you to go by.
You notice in your mirrors headlights coming along behind you. It is nearing midnight and drunk drivers are prevalent for the next two or three hours so you keep an eye on the approaching vehicle. Yes, as it nears, you see that it is weaving from lane to lane, so you slow down a little and get prepared to take evasive action hoping the car does not rear end you. As the car passes, you look down and see in the light from the carâ€™s dash that it is filled with young people jostling each other, the one in the passenger seat with a beer.
The car swerves towards you and you have to go to the shoulder to avoid the collision. As soon as you get back in your lane and the car has passed you, you pick up the phone and dial 911 to report it, the 911 operator keeps you on the line so you can keep the car in sight for them. Soon, you see a police car with flashing lights come across the median and chase down the car. You breathe a sigh of relief that no one died that night, especially you and your co-driver.
Listening to talk radio, you start thinking about what you are going to do your next hometime. Perhaps go fishing or go to relatives to visit. It would be nice to sit by the lake for a few hours and not even have to hear trucks much less drive them. Shaking your head, you realize that you do not remember driving the last how many miles. Fifty is it. Dang, that white line fever got you. You know all about highway hypnosis, where watching the lines through the windshield can cause a driver to â€˜zoneâ€™ out. You see a rest area ahead and decide to stop and walk around a little, always watching the surroundings carefully for bad guys.
Changing from talk radio to some old rock, you softly sing along and dance a little in the seat, careful not to wake your co-driver. You wiggle your toes and twist your ankles a little to prohibit deep leg thrombosis from taking effect. A little boredom is setting in, so you tune to the old time radio program and laugh quietly to the antics of the old time comedians, then whistle along with the theme of the Whistler show.
5 a.m. approaches, dawn is near, two hours to shift end. You do not feel tired, but you catch yourself nodding a little bit. You reach up and grab some munchies out of the nook above you. You think how strange it is that there are times when you can get up at 3 a.m. after a full eight hours of good, solid sleep and still get the nods between 5 and 7 a.m. The munchies are not enough, so you pull into a truck stop to refill your thermos and make a pit stop. Luckily, there is a space for you to park in.
You get out of the truck and do a couple of knee bends and backstretches to get your blood flowing then walk briskly to the building. After splashing some water on your face, you are once again alert enough to drive. Coffee in hand, you put in an audio book and continue driving out your shift.
This morning you actually see the â€˜crack of dawnâ€™ as the sky suddenly lightens just before the sun comes over the horizon. The sunrise is glorious, full of deep pinks, yellows and purples. Too bad the sun is right in your eyes, you lower the visor and check your watch and the mile marker; 30 minutes to changing places with your co-driver. You gently call their name to wake them and give them time to get dressed before you arrive at the truck stop for a quick shower and breakfast before their taking over.
Over breakfast, you tell your co-driver about the shooting star and the funny skits you heard on old time radio, making them laugh. You relate what you learned on talk radio and perhaps the newsbreaks. You plan the next shift and talk about how the truck is running, but strangely, you do not mention almost hitting the deer, the drunks and the case of the nods, or the white line fever episode. After all, those things are just part of another night in the neighborhood.