34 Hour Restart

January 8, 2015


Today is the day, she thought as she finished wiping the counters at the small town diner. She was just finishing her shift and just had enough time to pick up the kids from school. She felt pretty good as she drove through the blowing leaves on that beautiful fall day. It was amazing how much she had accomplished in the past three weeks. She had canned all the vegetables from the garden, cleaned the house, and taught Jimmy how to mow the yard. He was a hard worker. Last night, she went to a parent/teacher conference and the news was mostly good. I still have to work with Jimmy on his math, she thought as she pulled up the drive to the school. That’ll be a challenge, because on a day like this he’ll want to be outside after being cooped up in school all day. Well, it’s the weekend and there’ll be time for that later.

The kids were literally “wired for sound” so she decided to let them enjoy the beautiful afternoon outside while she got some things done. She stopped at the mailbox on the dusty gravel road and thumbed through the mail. She saw the envelopes with his settlements, the car bill, the electric bill and the gas bill. Upon parking the car outside their mobile home, the kids darted out for the woods, while she took their lunch pails into the kitchen and cleaned them out. She sat down at the kitchen table and opened the mail. Only 2000 miles on the week, she noticed as she opened the settlement. Nothing was going to take away the good feelings she had welling up inside. That’ll make for a tough budget, but she’d already planned for that. The kids Christmas presents were already on layaway and she smiled as she thought that she only had three more payments left. She looked outside and smiled again as she saw Jimmy raking the leaves while Sarah and their dog, Jeff, were jumping in the pile.

Later in the evening, while she was cleaning the dishes from the dining room table, Sarah asked, “When is Daddy coming home?” She smiled as said, “He called this morning and thought he would be home right after dinner if he was loaded on time. But you know, Sarah, that he always tries to get home as soon as he can.” The little angelic face pouted and whined, “But Daddy said that he would be home a week ago! He’s normally gone for two weeks and this time he’s been gone for three.” “I know, honey, but you know how trucking can be,” she said, “One of the other truckers had to get home right away to take care of his ailing mother, so Daddy took his load for him so it would be delivered on time.” “But, why couldn’t someone else take the load,” Jimmy said. “Well, honey,” she said, “if Daddy didn’t deliver the loads that needed to be delivered, people wouldn’t have things at the store and Santa couldn’t find any toys to bring for Christmas!” she said with a smile. “Wow, I’m going to tell my friends,” said Sarah, “they think that truckers are these mean people who scare people with their driving on the road.” “Well, don’t you ever think that, Sarah. Daddy is one of the best drivers there is and he makes sure that stores always have the things people need to buy,” she said as she looked out the window for a cloud of gravel dust down the road, which wasn’t there.

After the kids were in bed, she went out on the porch and looked into the night. It was perfectly quiet and the stars were out. She went back in and laid down on the couch. The clock showed 10 o’clock.

He pulled his rig off exit 42 and pointed it towards home. Only two more hours to go, he thought. What a day! I can’t believe they had me wait six hours for my load on a Friday. He thought about complaining to the dispatcher, but he knew it wouldn’t do any good anyway. Normally, he takes waiting at the dock in stride, but tonight he would be home for the first time in three weeks. He had been listening to the bad news about the economy all week and decided to run another week to get some more money for Christmas and to help another driver out. It was hard to listen to all the complaining at the truck stops from the other truckers. Things sure are slow! But in this business, you have to do what you have to do. No point in getting all worked up about it. I bet it’s going to be a busy weekend, as he thought about the work that needed to be done around the house, finishing up the garden, raking leaves and mowing the yard. I hope the kids are doing ok, he said to himself, barely out loud. They really get in a funk when I’m gone this long. “I don’t know where I’m going to get the money to get Christmas for the kids,” he worried.

At one in the morning, he made his final turn. As he pulled his rig up in the drive, the lights in the house came on and the door flew open as she ran to the truck. He smiled through his red eyes as she threw her arms around him and they walked, holding hands, into the house. They talked until three in the morning before falling asleep.

The morning sun beamed through the window. “Hush,” she said, “Daddy worked hard last week, and needs some sleep.” The children tried to contain their excitement. He rolled over and looked at the clock. “Ten in the morning,” he thought, “I didn’t want to sleep that long.” He rolled out of bed thinking about all the chores he needed to do but as he looked around, he saw the house was in perfect condition. The smell of coffee was in the air. He put his feet on the floor and looked out the window to see a perfectly mowed yard on a crisp autumn morn. He also noticed that the garden was harvested. As he went into the kitchen, Sarah and Jimmy ran to him and showed them their report cards. They were the best he’d ever seen. “I can mow the yard and rake the leaves now,” boasted Jimmy. “Yes, you are becoming quite a hardworking man,” he said with a twinkle in his eye. “You were gone too long,” said Sarah, “but I’m going to tell my friends that my Daddy was helping Santa, so they would have toys at Christmas.” He looked at his wife’s secret smile. Later, they went on a picnic by the river and just enjoyed the day as a family. He beamed with pride as he looked at his family and cherished every minute of that autumn Saturday.

The next day after church, his cell phone rang. His family all looked at him as he answered the phone. “I have a 600 mile load for you that has to be delivered Monday night. Can you take it?” the voice on the phone said. “I finish my 34 restart at 6 tonight and can start with a fresh book of hours,” he said. “Good,” the voice said, “Don’t forget your checkcall when you pick up the load.” “Yes, boss,” he replied. He looked at the kids and smiled even though he felt sadness coming on him. “Is that a load for Santa?” asked Sarah. “Yes,” he said, “you wouldn’t want the toys to be late, would you?” “That’s funny, Daddy!” Jimmy said, “You’ve never been late!”

As she walked him to the truck that evening, he looked at her and couldn’t get over how good his life was and it was all thanks to this woman that he made his life with. They kissed, he climbed up in his truck and waved as he wheeled out of the drive. He remembered her smiling face as he drove down the road. He thought to himself, “People think that trucking is a man’s business, but they would be surprised if only they knew, it’s the women that keep the trucks rolling.”

Happy Trucking, Tom

Copyright-Tom Kretsinger, Jr. 2010

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