Saturday, October 11, 2014

Truck Driving And Socialism

I've been intending to write a post in which I compared the title of my blog to what the blog has actually been about. I see that I've been blogging for a little more than four years. When I started this blog I wasn't working. I was looking for work but not constantly. It was the height of the recession. I had some spare time.

A balloon landed Tuesday morning next to the apartments on Los Volcanes Road as I was parking the truck on Airport Drive

I didn't have a clear idea of why I was starting a web log. I wanted to work on my writing in some way, and to express my political views in some way, or rather, agitate for them. I'd been keeping journals for most of my years in truck driving and I wanted to try turning some of the entries into short stories, but I didn't know how I was going to bring Socialism into it.

The title Truck Driving and Socialism appealed to me because it literally would encompass what I was doing but also contained a contradiction. Truck driving, generally speaking, is peopled by conservative people.

There have been well known writers who were consciously political in their fiction writing and who also gained wide acceptance, but not many. Jack London is among the few American writers to have pulled it off successfully. Internationally there's George Orwell. Writers like Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Toni Morrison, Alice Walker, are political people but in their writing are more unconsciously political, I would put it. They might set up situations that will lead the reader to conclude certain things politically, but they do not, as London and Orwell did, set up situations that make arguments for their political ideologies.

That's hard to do, for me at least, I've learned. I've tried it and it's come across as contrived, which it was. I started going back through my journals and found some that I was able to turn into short stories, but just doing that was such an overwhelming task that I never even thought about politics while I was doing it. The need to make it readable, interesting, believable, seemed to take over.

It wasn't long before I started writing commentaries about events in the news, like the Arab Spring, Occupy Wall Street, what the government was doing, or elections. I also started working full time again, which made it seem impossible to devote the kind of time short story writing demanded, of me anyway. I'm not very efficient with my use of time and I was working 12 hours a day.

Eventually the truck driving job I was doing by the hour was contracted out and I was given first stab at it and I decided to submit a proposal. It was accepted and I had to buy a truck and go into the trucking business, you could say, and I've been doing that for a year and a half now.

The business part of course adds another set of headaches. It's pretty profitable, at least compared to what my expectations were, but it couldn't be profitable enough to compensate for the aggravation it causes.  I'm still doing most of the driving and the driving part becomes more aggravating every night, it seems. Truck driving is changing, as it always has, as everything always has, and so it's me, probably, my inability to adapt to the ever changing nature of the truck driver's world. There's a new generation out there. There are new kinds of truck drivers; increasing number of Sikhs, Asians, Latinos, African Americans. I welcome those people, but I never know who it is that's riding the left lane, who gets out to pass a half mile back and takes their time coming up the left lane with their brighter nowadays headlights blinding me in my rear view mirror the size of a coffee table, but I know it aggravates me. The predominant mode in truck driving when I came in was the Southern driver. Things about that style aggravated me, but it was what I was used to, I suppose.

Several times in the past few weeks, as I was driving down the interstate at night, the idea of getting out of trucking altogether popped into my head. The daydreams are starting, the escapist fantasies, of what else I'd do, replacing the ones of what I wanted to do in the trucking business. For a long time I'd wanted to buy a sailboat and live on it. I'd looked into it. The cost of sailboats, what's the biggest one that can be sailed single-handed, the smallest that can be taken on the open ocean, what's involved in ocean-going, what boat making materials are best, what navigational and emergency equipment would you need. I have an application in my files for a dock space at Long Beach harbor where you can live on the boat - - they have showers on shore, electricity hookups  -- and the total cost for the slip and the extra amount for living on the boat is about what you'd pay for an apartment in Albuquerque.

I've also dreamed about having a little place on a dirt road, being off the grid, having a wood shop and a place to fix up old cars, doing solar and wind, having a garden and a greenhouse. I made a nice little wooden boat by hand once, an English punt, and I'd thought about making them to sell.

These things are starting to come back. I'll be 62 in November. I'm doing nothing now, but work. No living. No writing. The work is never done. After the driving there's the paperwork and the maintenance. There's taking care of things in the morning after I'm done driving and then not getting enough sleep. I do an occasional blog post about what's going on in trucking, the new regulations and such. I'll do a longer essay on the weekends sometimes or dash off an easy to finish commentary before I go to work. I often go four and five weeks without doing laundry. I just keep buying underwear. When I don't have time to buy underwear I have to wash them in the damn sink.

I've been keeping an eye out for how business would change me. I thought it would. I predicated it would. I wondered if it would change my politics. If it would change the way I thought about Capitalism and Socialism. It hasn't changed anything.

But one thing being in business has done is to make me more rational. I've had to face situations I didn't have to face in the past. I've had to take care of things because I had no other choice. I think it's sharpened my ability to make decisions. The other night, at the truck stop in Holbrook where I make the trailer exchange with the Phoenix truck, I'd got there an hour early and shut my truck off, and then just before the Phoenix truck arrived it wouldn't start. I haul very time critical freight and it's sensitive for other reasons. It's pharmaceutical supplies and some if it is controlled substances.

I didn't panic. I probably would have in the past. I knew what I should check first and did that, then got the truck stop's garage to get their service truck out there to try jumping it, and when that didn't work the mechanic and I went through the other possible causes and then suddenly it was running and I was back in Albuquerque well within my window. As anyone who has run a business or an organization can no doubt tell you, doing something like that is, in a way, solving a series of problems. The problems always come. They never stop. I'm better at solving them. More rational.

I suppose I see the dollars and cents of doing everything, now. I'm more calculating. The dreams are still there. They never stop keep coming, either. I have a better sense of what they'll cost, of what I might gain and what I might lose. I'll think about it, dream about it some more, think about it some more. I don't know what's going to happen. In other words, I've probably already made up my mind.

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