Putting a Sock in It

by | Oct 19, 2008 | Knight of the Road

Related Categories: Knight of the Road
and tags: Studs Terkel | Working.
Posts by: Brian

And being behind before I even get started has left me even less time to myself than usual. Witness how few entries I’ve managed so far this month, though I’m rather wondering lately if I oughtn’t to give it up entirely as all I seem to write about is this horrible excuse for life, about which there doesn’t seem to be very much more to say. Venting is what these entries amount to lately. Hardly worth either my time or yours. So I’ll just mention one more time how impressed I am at the way the Company is able to keep me working and waiting eighteen hours a day, and from here on out I’ll try to shut up about it. Try. Yes, I can hear what you’re thinking. I don’t think that particular resolution will last long, either.

I brought a dangerous book along on this trip. Working, by Studs Terkel. It’s a collection of interviews with people about “what they do all day and how they feel about what they do.” Interviewing people is a great way to push an agenda while appearing to be objective. It’s all about what you ask, and whom you ask it of. Studs, a fellow traveler and social activist from way back, manages to paint a fairly damning picture of widespread disaffection in the workplace and general anger at The Man. I could have given him an earful.

And then there are the few representatives of management, who sound cheery and just a little bit clueless, and a very few people who have managed to find peace of mind and even happiness in their work. There is a waitress driven by some internal motivation we never quite explore to be a perfect at everything she does. A successful musician. The founder of a non-profit bread bakery. These are the people who talk about work as filling something other than an economic need: work as fulfillment. They can point to something they’ve produced – a loaf of bread, a well-played note, an exemplary dining experience. What can I point to? Another load of beef knuckles delivered on time.



Back when I started this thing I was surprised at the number of people who seemed to think there was some sort of romance in driving around and delivering stuff. The song of the open road and all that. Sitting around truck stops, swapping yarns with the old salts. Stopped for fuel at the intersection of I 40 and I 25, an old salt waved at me from over by the service bays. I nodded back, expecting that to be the end of the exchange. He fixed me with his weather eye and marched in my direction. Was this someone I knew? Had I offended him in the manner in which I’d pulled in to the fuel aisle? Neither one of these. Turned out he just had to get something off his chest, and I was the nearest swabby around. “Just had to put my damn trailer in the shop,” he expectorated. “Air leak.” “Ah,” I replied. “Enjoy your day.” And he stalked off, apparently satisfied.

I really should have taken that right turn at Albuquerque. Instead I kept going straight, west that is, and am currently at a rest area along I17 north of Phoenix. Some serious desert hereabouts and fortunately there was time for a walkabout while it was still light enough for me see any scorpions or rattlesnakes or mountain lions or panthers before I stepped on them.

Really: panthers. A sign here at the rest area claims that panthers are native to Arizona. I had no idea. Just goes to show: Turns out trucking is educational. Who knew?