I have discovered it only takes a mere six weeks to turn me into a loon. Yep. And all it takes is solitude and a truck.
Here’s how it plays out:
I’ve just left home after some home time. While I really enjoy my home time and it is really hard for me to leave, once I leave, I really really enjoy myself. I can sing along with the radio as loud as I please. I can burp or pass gas with no accompanying groans or snide comments from family members. I can eat what I want, when I want. Sleep when I want for however I want. Do whatever I want whenever I want. Just as long as the loads get picked up and delivered on time, that’s all the planners care about and I can do and be who I want to be.
It feels like freedom.
I’ve been quite chatty with the other drivers and people I meet at truck stops, rest areas, shippers, and so on. It’s nice to see a friendly face. However, I like my freedom. And I like my solitude and my ability to do whatever I like on my own. I revel in my ability to be alone, something I don’t ever get to be at home, since there are so many of us sharing small digs.
Still enjoying the solitude. In fact, I’m starting to get annoyed anytime I have to deal with other drivers and people. They are awfully loud. And they smoke. And they stink. Not just cigarettes, but b.o. (Never mind the fact that I probably stink right along with them, since I haven’t had a shower for a few days myself). And they tell tall tales that you know have to be 50% lies. But, it’s still nice talking to folks from time to time, just as long as I don’t make a habit of it. I’ve enjoyed the solitude so much that I’ve turned off the radio and haven’t missed it.
I’m completely anti-social. If I have to hear one more story about another driver’s run-in with some d.o.t. official over some problem with the trailer that it’s his own damn fault for not fixing, I’m gonna scream. Quit your bitching and do your damn job and you won’t have these problems. If I have to act as somebody’s therapist because their wife is leaving them or their kid is running with the wrong crowd, and you are having a mid-life crisis, I’m gonna scream. Get away, people. Leave me alone.
This is the week I actively avoid going inside truck stops, our company terminals, and whatever. I only go inside if I absolutely have to. I Do Not Want To Deal With People. AT ALL. I still haven’t listened to the radio. Silence is golden.
I’ve done a 180. I’ve been so anti-social that I realize a complete lack of human contact has made me terribly lonely. Now I crave human interaction. I miss talking to people. I talk to anybody, anywhere, about anything. I tell them waaay too personal stuff. I start sounding like the people that I was avoiding the week before. People suspect I’m A) on crack or B) crazy. They aren’t too far off with selection B.
In my attempts to connect with other people, I’m really trying to replace what I miss most–home.
I’m also going for walks every chance I get because I desperately want to get off the truck. I mean, I walk a lot anyway, but now I’m feeling compelled to do it. I’m feeling cramped being in such a little space. I need my freedom. Week one my truck felt like freedom. Now it feels like a cage.
Home is on my mind all the time. I fantasize about what I will do once I get home and amongst my family. I’m having a hard time staying awake. I finally start listening to the radio again, just so I have something to keep my mind occupied and focused so I can get home in one piece.
I get melancholy. I get emotional. Every single thing on the radio makes me cry. A sad story about the tornado in Oklahoma..boo hoo! A happy story about lost people being reunited…boo hoo! A sappy love song….boo hoo! Even stories that are funny make me laugh and then…boo hoo! The tears start streaming. God knows why. I’m crying bucket loads about Every. Single. Thing.
The ironic thing is that I’m not a cryer, by and large. I don’t like crying. And it’s not like it’s PMS or anything. I don’t get PMS–pre, present, OR post. You can ask my husband–I’m usually my own chipper, even keel self any time of the month. So for me to be crying is….weird.
I get choked up talking to my family on the phone. I bawl like somebody died when I discover it will be not one, but TWO days that I will be late home and I might miss my son’s birthday party. Seriously. I haven’t cried like this since I had a miscarriage before we conceived Willow. That was really the last time I really, really cried like this. I asked to be home on the 23rd and won’t be home until the 25th, the day of the party. Two days late and I’m bawling. Wow. Then I have to tell my daughter that I won’t be home on Thursday when I was supposed to be and my heart breaks when I hear her start to cry. She misses me, too.
I start crying again. Last night I asked my husband what my stupid problem was when he got back on the phone. What is it? I don’t get it. Why am I soooo gosh darn emotional? As I talked to him, my whole body screamed how tired I was. I was leaning up against the wall, my head resting against it. It was far too much effort to hold my own head up. My body and soul were weighed down that much.
Two days feels like an eternity. The clock is ticking…
I feel out of control and crazy and unhappy and anxious and lonely and homesick and frustrated and sad and angry and impatient and tired. Soooo tired, y’all. All at once.
And did I mention it’s a full moon this week? I’ve read somewhere a long time ago that statistics say murders and assaults go up when the full moon is out. People go a little nuts on the full moon. Maybe that’s why I’m feeling so crazy emotional this week. No? Yeah, I didn’t think so, either. I think it’s just me. And since I just debunked that myth by using my Google Fu and looking it up, I now know it’s just me. Drat. No convenient moon excuse.
Six weeks out on the road without coming home and without somebody to share the trip with is too long. I’ve done it before as a mentor and once when Micah was still driving and we were a team. It seemed like a really long time, but at least we had each other and it wasn’t so bad. We really missed the kids, but we were able to handle it. But me out here alone for six weeks? I don’t want to do that again anytime soon.
In the future, I’ll stick to three and four week jaunts.
WHY BE OUT FOR SIX WEEKS IF IT’S GOING TO MAKE ME CRAZY?
Why would I want to go out for six weeks in a row? Believe it or not, Micah and I actually planned for me to do this. We discussed it and decided that I would. You see, company policy is that for every six days that you’re out, you get one day home time. So in six weeks, I would get seven days off in a row. I wanted those seven days over Memorial Day Weekend, because it’s my son’s 20th birthday the week before Memorial Day (Happy Birthday, David!!) AND I missed Mother’s Day, so it would be nice to do something for me and my mom. I also wanted to have a couple of days in a row that I could have fun with the family.
I had planned to rent a car on Friday for the weekend cheap rate, and then, because Micah doesn’t have dialysis over the weekend and doesn’t have to go back on until Monday night, we were going to drive someplace we’ve never been before as a family and have some fun. I know it sounds crazy to want to drive somewhere after being out on the road for six weeks, but this would be different. It is with my family and in a car and it’s for fun and we get to stop and explore all we want! But because I don’t get to come home when I want to, I can’t be there in time to rent the car or get it for the cheap weekend rate, so it messes up our plans and we don’t get to do it.
In addition, I also learned that if I’m off the truck for six days, they make me give up my truck and I’ll have to be assigned a different one when I get back. Who knows if they’ll even have one ready for me when I’m ready to go back. AND who knows if it will be a decent one. I squawked about that, but there’s nothing doing. The company doesn’t want its trucks sitting for a week. They want them out there making the company some money.
So I’m two days late, I missed my car rental opportunity and thus our family outing, AND I have to give up my truck. NOPE. I’m not going out for six weeks at a time ever again, if I can possibly avoid it. These complications are enough to make a person go mad as it is.