Drivin' The Big Rigs

This is something I wrote while I was in Tractor Trailer Driving School.

It is an affirmation.

It still stirs my heart, and makes me want to saddle up.


Why I want to drive a Big Rig

Ok, so I'd be lying if I said money didn't have something to do with it.

About eight years ago my wife and I started out in a one room apartment with a box spring and mattress, a borrowed black and white TV, and two folding lawn chairs. We worked hard for what we've managed to acquire since then; she by bearing and raising our two children, and me by working every hour of overtime allowed.

I really liked my last job, and I was very good at it. Self-taught, I mastered a desktop publishing system with a computer graphics package that was far from user-friendly. There was a lot of stress, but, while meeting every deadline, the illustrations I created for GE's technical training manuals raised the level of quality far beyond the training group's previous standards. In 1990, due to the overtime I worked, I was one of the five highest paid hourly employees at GE Aircraft Engine in Rutland, Vermont.

Three years later I've been laid off and unemployed eight months, the credit union has repossessed one of our cars, and the house we bought a year ago is soon to be in foreclosure.

Ah...it's just stuff. And you can always get more stuff.

I've lost everything before. But that was back when I hadn't worked so long to get it, and I didn't have a wife and two innocent young souls depending on me.

I need a job where I can earn more than I spend. I need to foresee a demand for my skills that offers some promise of security. I need a job that offers challenges, that rewards hard work with good pay, and one that I can do with pride and satisfaction.

So why truck driving? That's were the satisfaction comes in. I want to drive long haul for at least a couple years, and I know it will satisfy a number of the various facets of my personality.

I've always felt that I was an explorer in one of my past lives. Since childhood I've gazed toward the horizon and felt the urge to journey beyond. I want to know what's beyond the furthest mountain range, what's around the next bend in the road. I enjoy navigating long distances, and take some pride in quickly learning to get around places that are new to me. I'm one of those people who can take great pleasure from spending time studying a good map or an atlas. Before I became a family man I did quite a bit of traveling. I miss it.

I spent six years surrounded by factory walls, the last year in an office with no windows, and there's not much about it I miss.

I've always been an artist; portraits, landscapes, industrial machines, pencil, pen and ink, acrylics and computer graphics. I loved to say, when asked what I did, "I'm an artist." And there were periods when I even made a living at it. But those times were too few and far between. And, though work makes prostitutes of us all, some of the people I've dealt with on commissions have made exchanging my art for money feel crass and hollow.

But I can appreciate the beauty of a snow-capped mountain range in the first light of dawn, a summer squall sweeping gray curtains of rain across endless fields of corn and grain, the New York City skyline at night, sea lions off the Coast Highway in California.

I can sense the spirits as dusk settles over the Black Hills around Deadwood, and marvel at the crimson of a Vermont maple in Autumn. I've sat eye to eye with a golden eagle that was perched on a fence post on the Continental Divide, been awestruck by the mountain the Native Americans called Tacoma while I stood on the shores of Puget Sound. And I want to drink it all in again...and more.

Wasn't it GE that used to advertise, "Progress is our most important Product?" I'm not sure anymore what progress is, but I know that Driving , movement can give the illusion of progress, the feeling that you're making some headway, that you 're getting somewhere. I need that.

And I want to feel in control, in command, the pilot of a chromed and pinstriped fire-belching behemoth skillfully guided along an endless ribbon of highway.

I don't want to feel isolated or insulated anymore. I want to be a part of it all. To feel alive, like the blood flowing through the arteries of America...feeling the pulse of the country...the throbbing of the engine and the humming of the tires like the sound of a heartbeat in my ears.

Besides... I've always wanted a wallet on a chain and a belt buckle the size of a meat platter.


Post Script:

The circumstances that prompted this composition involved: me being laid off from an impossible job at which I excelled; my young wife and I in the process of losing all we had worked for; caring for a five year old son, and an eight month old daughter; my wife joining the army and leaving us in order to send us her paycheck; and me assuming the job of Mr. Mom in a house we were losing to foreclosure in an unforgiving Vermont winter.

Did I mention "DESPERATION"?

I read this now and my eyes mist up real quick. I was trying so hard to be brave and put the best face I could on the fact that I had to hit the road and leave behind my reason for living...my babies.

I averaged being home two days every two weeks.

I missed the birth of my youngest son by about 1,500 miles and 7 days.

Yet, every word is true. Driving an 18 wheeler long distance is, I think, the primal desire of every American Male.

The women must speak for themselves.

I did what I had to do. I was brokenhearted every mile. I was the first man ever to break my daughter's heart. And I haven't gotten over it yet.

But, if I was alone...I'd do it again in a heartbeat.

© Copy Right CPrice 2010.  All Rights Reserved

Comments 26 comments

saddlerider1 profile image

saddlerider1 6 years ago

Chris thank you so very much for this wonderful heart felt share of the reasons for heading out on the long, lonely and winding roads of America. I to left a completely different career in real estate. I was going through the ugliest divorce at the time that simply crippled my mind so badly I couldn't sell a thing. I hit the wall and had to leave my brokerage firm. If you get a chance to read my Jack series, the guy portrayed in those posts is me.

My world had ended, she had driven the children away from me and I was sick, lonely and desperate. Our assets were torn wide open by the judicial system, I lost big time. But I promised myself I would not divide the family nor make her sell the house. I signed my homestead over to her for the sake of my children, so they could stay in the neighborhood and attend the same schools and keep the friends they had acquired.

I took on a bachelor apartment sparsely furnished and took to becoming to friendly with Mr Jack Daniels. The rest is history. You will read that I too took a truck driving course and headed on out to the big highway. The first year was the toughest and my mind was a mess and I remember crying in the sleeper that first year I drove team and wishing I was dead, the loss of my kids and being apart from them drove me off the edge some nights.

I finally switched driving team and went single for almost 6 years and saw sights all over Canada and your beautiful country and today I am not sorry for it at all. It was meant to be, I to am a time traveler and believe I was a warrior somewhere in history and one who needed to be in wide open spaces. Thank you again for this share good buddy. I look forward to sharing more with you over time. Welcome to Hubpages, I find comfort in opening up my life on here. I have a Legacy series that I have written and continue to write, hoping that my 3 estranged children will read and come back to me. Peace brother. I thank my friend Wayne Brown for introducing me to you, he is a great writer and a cowboy with a big heart and a LOVE as big as the state he lives in Texas.


Christopher Price profile image

Christopher Price 6 years ago from Vermont, USA Author

Ken,

Thought you'd relate to this entry, just didn't realize how much we have it common.

Montreal, Vermont, Texas...funny how brothers get so spread out, "hey".

Guess it might be destiny we'll be hearing more from one another.

I hope that documenting your life here will contribute to a reunion with your kids. At least it leaves a legacy.

Write On!

CP


ralwus 6 years ago

I been there as well my friend. Yeah, as little boys we desire running heavy equipment and driving big rigs. I managed to do both and operate a huge drilling rig as well. Hard life for a family man, yes. But very rewarding in many ways. Thanks for sharing. Charlie


Christopher Price profile image

Christopher Price 6 years ago from Vermont, USA Author

I'm glad I quit it and got to spend more time with my family.

But I still see a fresh-washed Kenworth Condo sparking in the sunlight, hear a well-done downshift or look to the horizon where the highway crests the distant hill and I feel the urge to grab my backpack and climb aboard.

CP


Nellieanna profile image

Nellieanna 6 years ago from TEXAS

Christopher - of course I haven't shared the big rig driving and am not likely to. I didn't learn to drive till I was 40 and then it was a VW beetle. I've driven SUVs for a number of years and there is something about taking off down the highway. So I can project the feelings you expressed - and you've expressed them more beautifully than I believe I've ever heard them expressed. Your prose is poetry - it flows and sings. I could see the majesty of Tacoma (though I've never seen it) as well as the other marvelous sights - I could almost sense the hum of the big diesel as I gazed out the windows at the vistas.

I am glad you've been able to be back with your family, though and I hope your wife is there too. We do what we gotta do at times and shouldn't regret any of it. More power to you!!


Christopher Price profile image

Christopher Price 6 years ago from Vermont, USA Author

Nellieanna,

I too have driven some of those early rear-engined Beetles and that tells me you have a feel for risk and adventure!

I am so glad you liked this essay. I wanted to express the primal lure and satisfactions of setting off into the unknown to touch the horizon.

I hope the rhythm and timber of my writing enhances the experience.

You are one of the very few who seems to recognize the art as well as the content.

Thank you so much.

CP


Eiddwen profile image

Eiddwen 6 years ago from Wales

Very touching hub. Take care Christopher.


Christopher Price profile image

Christopher Price 6 years ago from Vermont, USA Author

Thanks Eiddwen,

Though my trucking days are done I still look longingly toward the horizon every now and then.

Peace.

CP


christopheranton profile image

christopheranton 6 years ago from Gillingham Kent. United Kingdom

Christopher. When you describe driving over the continent I almost feel as if I were behind you in the cab. It is sad that bad circumstances forced you to take to the road, but you seem to have made a positive experience out of it. Thanks for sharing.


Christopher Price profile image

Christopher Price 6 years ago from Vermont, USA Author

Christopher,

Men on a quest, who must leave their families behind, sacrifice sharing precious moments in their loved one's lives. For me the trade off could never be enough.

Driving long distance solo could have been a great gig when I was a bachelor, but was a choice born of desperation when I did it.

Even so, it had its moments.

Thanks for riding shotgun for awhile.

CP


Jeremey profile image

Jeremey 6 years ago from Arizona

I aspire to be as graceful in my writing as this story, I was sent here to read it by an e-mail I recieved and its turned out to be at a time I needed a distraction from myself. Anyways Chris, this was a beauty of a write and I shall read every piece you have. You are an inspiration to me and I thank you.


Christopher Price profile image

Christopher Price 6 years ago from Vermont, USA Author

Jeremey,

Your comments are very much appreciated. I hope this little essay was the distraction you needed and gave you some enjoyment.

You might want to read some of saddlerider1's hubs (click on his avatar, first comment above). Ken took to truck driving after a difficult divorce and I think you will relate to the joys and sorrows he writes about.

Meanwhile, hang in there. If you get around to telling how you ended up in Arizona it is you who will be the inspiration for others.

BTW: If you think Arizona is hot wait 'til you spend a little time in Flagstaff during the winter!

CP


Micky Dee profile image

Micky Dee 6 years ago

Pretty nice Christopher! Pretty nice! Tells of a father's love and a desire to do the right thing. Making a sacrifice. Taking a dangerous adventure. I can see tears very easily. Crap! Now I've got something in my eye. Got to go!


Christopher Price profile image

Christopher Price 6 years ago from Vermont, USA Author

Long as you drop by again Micky.

Thanks for staying long enough to leave a comment.

Later Bro.

CP


ahorseback profile image

ahorseback 6 years ago

Hey Christopher, I am a northeast kingdom vermonter myself, glad I found this site. Ill be reading more.


Christopher Price profile image

Christopher Price 6 years ago from Vermont, USA Author

ahorseback,

Welcome neighbor. I'll be stopping by to sample your wares as well.

CP


ACSutliff profile image

ACSutliff 6 years ago

Christopher,

Beautiful hub. The way you write about what you've seen as you traveled across America is breathtaking in it's description and language. I was thrilled to see that you mentioned the Black Hills. It is a beautiful place, and your writing really does it justice. There is so much emotion in your words. I can sense the desperation, but also the determination to do what had to be done, and your optimism when faced with this dream job that was so bitter sweet. This is a story worth telling and sharing.


Christopher Price profile image

Christopher Price 6 years ago from Vermont, USA Author

AC,

I am grateful you took the time to tell me in detail why you liked this hub. I can sense your enthusiasm and appreciation and it means alot to me.

I'm always pleased when someone likes my creations, but it is especially valued when, in the process, I've spilled my guts out.

Thanks again.

CP


Hugh Williamson profile image

Hugh Williamson 5 years ago from Northeast USA

Nice Hub CP, I like your writing style. I never drove OTR but as your story said, everyone secretly wants to try it.

Vermont is a great State -- I was born there but I left before I froze to death. I'll be cking out more of your stuff.


Christopher Price profile image

Christopher Price 5 years ago from Vermont, USA Author

Thanks Hugh. Like a number of things in my life, driving OTR is something I'm glad I experienced, but I am even more glad that it's past.

BTW, if you don't freeze to death in Vermont the cold can be a wonderful preservative...in combination with the alcohol taken for medicinal purposes and as anti-freeze!

I hope you do take the time to browse and comment on my hubs.

CP


ThomasRydder 5 years ago

Good morning, CP - you stand as a testament to every man who has done whatever he had to do, in order to provide his family with what they need. Your skill and wonderful use of the English language simply lent more credence to the message underneath. Well played, my friend !! :)TR

(by the way - "prostitutes of us all" - only too true)


Christopher Price profile image

Christopher Price 5 years ago from Vermont, USA Author

Sorry for being so slow in responding Thomas. I don't think I was alerted to your comment, but it is very welcome and appreciated.

I'm very glad you liked this piece.

CP


ThomasRydder 5 years ago

Hey CP--damn...glad to hear from you...I thought aliens from the planet of Illiterus grabbed you out of your rig....welcome back! :)TR


Christopher Price profile image

Christopher Price 5 years ago from Vermont, USA Author

Worry not TR-

Though I may be periodically uncommunicative I am never far away or long gone.

My quest and level of success is similar to SETI...though I have focused my search on terrestrial intelligence, we both have found faint evidence.

CP


frogyfish profile image

frogyfish 4 years ago from Central United States of America

Your avatar shows your artistic ability, as well as your telling us. I hope your situation now is much better. I picked this title of yours because my brother was a trailer truck driver for several years...'preacherman', and he loved it like you do. Best wishes to you and your family!


Christopher Price profile image

Christopher Price 4 years ago from Vermont, USA Author

Thank you frogyfish for stopping by and leaving a comment.

This piece was written nearly two decades ago, and the roller coaster of life has traveled quite a ways since then. I seldom stray far from home for long, and I like it that way.

Please come back and browse around. Hopefully you'll find something else to like.

CP

    Sign in or sign up and post using a HubPages Network account.

    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    No HTML is allowed in comments, but URLs will be hyperlinked. Comments are not for promoting your articles or other sites.


    Click to Rate This Article
    working