Il Parabrezza (The Windshield) Post 4
By David Danforth at Oct 13, 2008
I delivered to Houston last week. I emptied out and drove to Love's truck stop on McCarty Street on the east side. At mid-day there were a lot of trucks parked there; indeed, it was jammed. This is not a good thing. Houston is a major port.
I wanted a shower, and I had no backhaul. I found a place to park along the driveway into Loves. (You can see trucks leaving through that same driveway at the lower edge of the picture.)
I got my shower. It cost $9.00
I returned to my truck. There was still no backhaul.
Waiting is uncompensated, and killing the time is hard. I try to sleep. I try to read. I listen to the radio around the clock, tuning in NPR, Rush Limbaugh, Coast to Coast AM, and others. And there is, for me, a constant agitation because I don't know what's coming. It's hard to commit myself to an activity, like writing, because my quarters are uncomfortable and because I have no assurance that once I've begun, that I'll not be interrupted.
But I try, and I was lost in thought when the first knock came. It sounded like a rock had struck the truck; I jumped. Then I got mad, and nearly called the guy a name.
He was black, about 40. His shirt was torn, although not dirty. I looked out my window at him. In the driver's seat, you sit 8 1/2 feet off the ground, so you're nearly always looking down on whomever is outside. He really irritated me, interrupting my reverie as he did.
He wanted to talk; I didn't. I've heard plenty of truck stop hard luck stories. He would explain some personal need like food, or a room. I would judge his performance. Some performances rate compensation. Others don't. Causing me to jump was not a good idea. I told him to get lost, several times. He angered, and shambled away, muttering, gesturing and gnawing on something, like a candybar or a plug of tobacco.
Hours passed: time for a bathroom break and to throw out the trash. As I descend from the cab, a pickup stops next to me. It's a late model and clean. The driver is a white woman, late middle age, good teeth. She opened the door and hailed me. "My sister is homeless because of the hurricane. I've got a hotel room for her, at a Motel 8, not far from here, but I'm $12 short. I stopped you because I could tell you speak English, praise Jesus." I climbed back into my truck, as I'd left my wallet there. I had two 20's and two singles. I gave her $2. She said, "God Bless you, Sir!," and drove off.
In the late afternoon, a message arrived on the satellite display. I was to drive to Dallas and await a load there. I did so. But there was no load. I deadheaded back to Colorado. Costs to the company for that deadhead summed to $1506.