What it’s Like to be a Trucker…Probably
When you spend a lot of time driving on the highway at night, like I do, you get to wondering about the people around you on the road. I know why I’m traveling, but why are they? Who are they? There’s no group which I ask this question about more than the truckers with whom I share the highway in those late night hours.
But what’s the best way to really learn about the life of a trucker? Would it be to find one and ask him questions? Couldn’t I even just Google some questions about truckers? Yes and yes, but NO. To truly dive deep into the life of a trucker I have to create their entire world, and immerse myself in it. In fiction I’ll find truth. By creating a story about a trucker I’ll become so engrossed in their world that when I’m finished I will truly know what it’s like to drive trucks for a living. That and it’s just so much easier to make shit up.
So without further ado, the tale of Reggie “Reg” Suede, truck driver…
Reg was a worldly man. He’d seen more road than any driver he’d ever known. He was 55 years old, and he’d been driving since he was 21. Reg enjoyed driving at night, as he currently was. The digital clock on his radio read 10:23pm. He was somewhere in Missouri. The highway was mostly empty, and it got Reg to thinking, as it usually did.
His thoughts passed from frivolous things like the burgers at Ms. Sarah’s Diner in Louisiana, to that man he stabbed in the bathroom of Ms. Sarah’s Diner in Louisiana, and if he ever did live. Reg regretted that stabbing, if only because it earned him a two week ban from Ms. Sarah’s. It was, Reg believed, one of the poorer thought out stabbings he had ever committed.
But Reg didn’t linger on those thoughts long. He noticed a billboard recruiting for the Navy, and he thought of his father, who was a lifelong Navy man. A seaman and a drunk, Reginald Suede Sr. was never much of a father to Reg. This was a fact made abundantly clear by the only advice Reg ever remembered his father giving him. It was a piece of wisdom drunkenly doled out on one of the more disastrous “Bring Your Son on Board” days that ever occurred at the Norfolk Virginia shipyard.
Reg’s father had failed to meet him above deck the morning of the event. Eager to see the ship that he had never been allowed on before, Reg excitedly ran down to the sailors’ quarters to find his father. Following strange noises and muffled curses through a maze of bunk beds Reg made his way to the back to find his father, black out drunk, giving a furious hand job to another sailor. Before Reg could sneak away in horror his father spotted him, and through glassy, drunken eyes, gave him the only advice that Reg could ever remember:
What are you lookin’ at? It’s not a big deal. A hand is a hand. This guy don’t got a name! I don’t know him. He ain’t Mikey Fitzpatrick, his name is hand! A hand is a hand is a hand!
Man quit talkin’ to your kid this is creepin’ me out…and don’t make eye contact! The other sailor shouted.
Reg couldn’t decide what was worse, that this episode provided the only lasting advice imparted from his father to him, or that the advice had actually been applicable to his life. It didn’t matter that Reg was the only driver in his company with a degree, one he had earned through countless hours of listening to books on tape before finally earning his bachelor’s from the University of Phoenix. It didn’t matter that Reg had set more shipping records and hauled more freight than everyone else around him. He was known for one thing, hand jobs.
Hand jobs had made Reg a rich man. Not in cash, but in goods, respect, and favors. Everyone wanted a piece of him, specifically one of his hands, and Reg took full advantage. He got out of tickets, scored pounds of free energy pills, got booze, lodging, even free Hardees. Not because he had money, but because he could give a mean squeezer. Dollar bills didn’t mean a thing on the road. The true currency of the highway was hand jobs, and Reg was Bill fucking Gates.
Reg could jack his way to anything he wanted, or jack his way out of any trouble he got in…almost any trouble. Highway bandits were another story. It didn’t matter that he had given half the state troopers in the region an old fashioned, there was only so much protection they were willing to provide. No one wanted to touch the highway bandits.
They often drove black cars and usually came at night. They were as fast as they were furious, and they couldn’t be stopped. The bandits would steal any cargo, and killed any trucker who resisted with violence. Reg wasn’t one to lay down and take anything though.
Reg remembered a night about a decade earlier when the highway bandits approached his rig in their caravan of jet black souped up foreign cars. A lead car drove out in front of Reg’s truck while the others circled the rig. Out of the lead car’s sunroof a bandit wearing a black motorcycle helmet raised a gun and fired at Reg’s windshield. It wasn’t a bullet that penetrated the glass but rather a metal spike. It shot all the way to the back wall of the cabin where it was firmly planted. The bandit intended to board the truck and force Reg to pull over.
What the bandits hadn’t counted on was that earlier Reg had gone skiing with a couple of meth dealers. The fruits of his labor were coursing through his blood stream and his heart was beating faster and stronger than a horny racehorse. Reg was high as fuck on meth, and ready to fight to the death.
The bandit was now crawling up the cable connected to the spike he had shot into the back of Reg’s cabin. Reg meanwhile was reaching under his seat for a set of kitchen knives he had “bartered” from a traveling CutCo salesman. As the bandit crawled through the windshield on the passenger side Reg leapt over and stabbed the bandit in the face, killing him with one blow. Years of jacking off random guys had given Reg impeccable hand-eye coordination. Although later all that mutual masturbation would cause crippling arthritis, back then, combined with the meth, it made him a killing machine.
Reg threw the fresh corpse out of his cabin and onto the road in front of him. He could feel all the wheels on the right side of his vehicle flatten the body. The driver of the lead car began to fire a pistol at Reg’s truck in a wild rage. Reg dodged a bullet and steeled his nerves, he knew what he had to do. Inspired by a novelization of the TV-movie “Duel” that he was listening to on tape for a book report assigned to him in a University of Phoenix online class, Reg hit the gas hard. His truck slammed into the back of the lead car, causing the driver, who was still shooting wildly, to lose control. The car swerved off the road and into the woods.
At the sight of the dead bandit and the destruction of the lead car, the other two bandit vehicles broke off their pursuit and retreated. No honor amongst thieves Reg thought. Fueled by the absurd amount of meth inside of him Reg slammed on the brakes and exited the cabin as soon as the truck stopped. He sprinted hard into the woods and found the wrecked car overturned. The broken driver was attempting to crawl away from the wreck. The driver spoke no English, but said in some sort of Eastern European language what Reg assumed were the words for “hand job.” Of course Reg was outrageously high on meth and mistranslated the man. Reg whispered softly into the man’s ear in the only European language he knew, French:
Sommeil doucement mon enfant, rendez-vous avec les anges
The bandit died confused and horrified in Reg’s arms, being jacked off into the darkness.
When Reg returned to his truck, he noticed that the cabin was soaked in blood, smelled like meth, and had a man’s eyeball in the ashtray. He knew the only way he wasn’t going to get fired for everything that had transpired tonight was to set the transcontinental speed record. So Reg calculated the time needed to achieve the record, smoked the rest of his meth, and set off. 89 hours later he had broken the record by a day and a half. He was given a medal, and went about his business, trucking across the U.S.A.
Reg remembered the moment fondly, it was the proudest he ever had. That’s why Reg liked driving at night, memories seemed to float through the air. It was these quiet, happy moments that made the job so enjoyable for him. He was a man who liked to think, and this was a job that afforded him plenty of time for that.
Annnnd that’s what I think being a trucker is like. I fully understand if you don’t want to be friends with me anymore.