Saturday, May 30, 2009


Currently. As I write this blog entry almost three weeks later, I'm in West Monroe, Louisiana, on my to Indianapolis, Indiana. In the past three weeks (minus a couple of days), I have settled into a routine of driving solo once again, and I'm enjoying it.

It took a while, but the past couple of weeks (or so), I've been getting some decent miles. Not great, but in the current economy for the trucking industry, it's about what I can expect for the immediate future.

I haven't been out west or to Texas, but I haven't been to the northeast or New York City either, so I'm not going to complain. A couple of weeks ago, I had delivered a load to Corinth, Mississippi, and my next load was to pick up in Byhalia, Mississippi, and it was going to Corpus Christi, Texas. Corpus is the only large city in Texas I've never been to – I've been close going on one of my favorite drives from south Texas up toward Houston on US 77. I was excited about getting to go there.

I arrived to pick up the load in Byhalia and the folks couldn't find the load. I called Schneider, and found out that the load had also been sent to another driver and that driver had already picked it up. So I had to settle for going back to Corinth and picking up a load going to Sturtevant, Wisconsin.

At least it wasn't New York City.

From a mileage standpoint, the past couple of weeks, as I said, have been okay. The first week I was out (which was when I last wrote in this blog), I only netted about 300 or 400 miles because of having to pick up my truck in Indianapolis. The next week, I netted something along the lines of 1100 or 1200 miles.

Just to contrast, when I first started driving a truck in 2005, my average weekly miles that year were about 2875. When I was driving solo last year (from January to August), I averaged about 2200 to 2300, until last July and August when the bottom fell out and I was averaging about 1500 or less.

Last week, I netted about 1400 paid miles, and this week (thankfully), I'm pushing something along the lines of 2100 perhaps if my reckoning is correct. If I can net an average of about 2000 miles a week, I'll be okay. Not comfortable, not able to really save anything, but enough to pay my bills.

The past month, I've gone through the single worst financial crisis I've had in at least 15 years. Two weeks in a row, I had to ask my Mom for help. That was difficult to have to do – but she was able to help me, and was very gracious about it. It's going to take a while to get things back where they should be, but a few 2100 mile weeks will at least help in that regard.

The reason I mention all that trivial detail about the mileage is to illustrate just how directly the economic environment affects this job. The economy will improve, and the days of 2500 mile weeks will return, I believe. But it is going to be a while.

I hope the clumsy efforts our government is making to “help” do not extend the downward cycle longer than it would have lasted. The rationale for what the government is trying to do (prevent things from degenerating as badly as they might if nothing were done) is laudable, perhaps, but as is the case any time government is involved in anything, it's more likely to make things worse and not better.

A Life Alone. With Terry gone, I have gone from being around another person 24/7 to being utterly, completely, absolutely as alone as it would be possible for a person to be short of being isolated in some location completely devoid of other people. Yes, I'm around other people in truck stops, at Schneider terminals, at places I pick up or deliver loads – but there's no connection to those people, except perhaps in passing. I talk on the phone to people (my Mom is the one person I talk to every day, and I am thankful for that connection), but that does not remove the sense of being disconnected in most ways from the rest of the world.

That may sound sad or negative to you – perhaps it would be so for you – but for me, it is a warm, comfortable, familiar place. I move quietly into those rooms of my inner life which have largely been vacant when I've been teaming or living around others (like when I lived in Rome with my grandmother a couple of years ago). I write more, journal more, read much more, think more deeply and more significantly.

Reading the book Solitude recently helped me to quantify and appreciate some of the elements of a rich life alone which I was aware of but hadn't labeled. Perfect timing for that book.

Terry. I have spoken to Terry a few times. And I have enjoyed it. He's adjusting to life off the road.

Vital connections. I will take a short hiatus from my solitude in two weeks, the weekend of June 13 and 14, to see the people I love in Dallas. And, then, July 11-13, I will see everyone in Georgia for the first time since February. Following that, my Mama comes out in the truck for ten days or so.

I look forward to those times and will treasure them afterwards in those quiet hours when I lay in my bunk at night and consider how very blessed I am to have the people in my life that I do.

Random bits. Part of my routine, if I have a run that allows me to drive most of the day, is to listen to the Book Radio channel and when I'm not listening to that I usually listen to whatever music of my own I'm in the mood for. Lately, also, I've been enjoying very much the Grateful Dead channel on XM – 24/7 Grateful Dead. Good driving music.

Right now I'm reading, among other things, the first prequel to Lonesome Dove by Larry McMurtry titled Dead Man's Walk.

At this second, I'm enjoying listening to the music of Viktor Krauss (Alison's brother).

With that, I will leave you for the present.

Until next time . . . keep the wheels rollin' . . . making choices and taking responsibility . . .

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