Life on the Road Part 1

I’m on the road a lot because it’s my job for now. While I like my job, sometimes it’s hard to love it and most of the time that has to do with things that are out of my control like traffic and weather conditions. There’s absolutely nothing you can do when you’re in a traffic jam but wait. Weather conditions are another thing and if you’ve got the drive and confidence in your ability to propel a motor vehicle down the road, the weather becomes just another thing in your towards making progress. 

For the last few years, I’ve been working as a courier, transporting various things to places within 250 mile radius from Chicago. Everything that I transport is time sensitive and the delivery deadlines are tight. Whether it’s a doctor waiting for some special instrument, a company waiting for that one machine part that is preventing them from production, the airline that needs their part go they can get their plane back in the air or even the flower shop that needs their inventory to arrive as fresh as possible, I perform a unique service, doing my part to help keep business and the economy going. 

I’m on the road a lot because it’s just the nature of my business. Ten to twelve hours on the road doesn’t phase me one bit; it’s just a typical day. I guess what keeps me motivated to keep doing this is because no two days are the same and there’s no such thing as typical. When I get a job to do, I’ll drive 200 or more miles to the drop off point then turn around and go right back  home. I don’t stop much, usually only to get gas or use the bathroom. Today was not a typical day, though. 

A few weeks ago, Someone who I do work for, Bob, asked me if I could do a special job. Bob’s neighbors, who are also my neighbors because we all life in the same neighborhood, were moving down to Florida. Bob asked me if I could do this move for them and drive a truck full of their stuff down there. As this was something that neither one of us had done before, he asked me to come up with a price and he’d broker the deal.  I shot him a price and we made the deal. Now that I’m a day into this job, I think I underestimated the fuel cost by a little but it’s not really too much of a concern because I’m still coming out ahead on this job so I’m not going to worry about a small discrepancy. 

I took on this job mostly because it is a departure from the norm and the experience sounded like fun…so far it has been and this is only the first day. The sad fact of it all is, this is the closest thing I’ve come to a vacation in many years because I just don’t take them. There’s no way I could have passed up this deal. Would you pass on a pseudo vacation that you were getting paid for? I wouldn’t think so.

This morning, my day began at 7 AM when I got out of bed, got myself ready, and finished packing a small duffle bag for the next few days. Bob arrived to pick me up at 8:15 to go get the truck from UHaul then drive it back to load it up. I met Kathy and Greg at their condo along with Andrew who is a colleague of sorts who was going to help get the truck loaded up. At the condo, it looked like a lot of stuff, but then again, only a third of the stuff, because all the big stuff was going to be picked up later by one of the national moving companies. 

After surveying the situation, Andrew and I got to work and got the 16 foot rental truck loaded in and hour and fifteen minutes which everyone agreed was pretty damn good. If you’ve ever loaded a truck before, then you know there’s a little bit more to it than simply putting things into it. There’s a thought process that goes on so everything gets packed tightly and will not shift during transport. It’s kind of like putting together a puzzle and if there’s one thing I know, it’s puzzles; years ago, I ran a company that made them…it’s of little wonder why I excel at this type of work. 

Greg and Kathy were very pleased with our work too and since they are the customers, it’s really all about them having a good experience. They were still cleaning our their condo and wanted to show their appreciation, so they gave both me and Andrew a bottle of wine. I’m not much of a wine drinker, not to mention that I was about to hit the road, either way, it was much appreciated because it’s the thought that counts.

  

Just a sign that I saw a few days back…yup, it’s true!

And it is true. I’m not much of a wine drinker, scratch that, connoisseur. I’m no stranger to Al Cohol; he and I go back a long way. Wine is just a little to acidic for me and it makes my heartburn flare up so I avoid it. While I know Al Cohol very well, I also know how bad he is sometimes and that’s why I can only stand him in moderation. He was once a very large part of my life and my wife used to talk to him daily, probably more than she talked to me. My wife and I haven’t spoken to one another in over seven years and I don’t really think we’ll ever speak again…at least not in this lifetime because that’s impossible.

Lately Al has decided to try and get back into my life by affecting others in which I know personally and care about. No matter how hard I try to tell them that hanging out with him might seem fun for a night, I don’t think they listen. 

Anyway, back to the story because there is a point (or maybe not) but I assure you there is one coming, eventually. I stopped at home, ate a turkey sandwich, grabbed my bag and was out the door shortly before 11. No sooner than I started this drive, the rain started and didn’t stop for the whole leg of this trip. I got on the tollway because it’s unavoidable to get out of Chicago. Normally, I use my iPass and don’t worry about it that much but this time I wasn’t in my minivan so I had to use the cash lanes. The object of traffic is to keep moving but tollbooths force you to stop. I talked to two of the tollbooth operators only briefly but used that opportunity to crack a joke and at least bring a smile to their face while they worked their very thankless job. Both times they told me to have a blessed day. 

Less than an hour later, I hit I-65 south in which I’m still on. I just drove, GPS was at home, and I’m following the signs at this point…that and checking paper maps every now and then because I know this part of the trip very well. 

  
Two more for the collection; I collect official  state maps and have done so for years. I really like looking at maps and I believe that it’s becoming another lost artform

I’ve been to Indiana before, he’ll, I used to live there and usually wind up visiting parts of it about every 2 weeks. While I was monitoring the fuel gauge, I thought I had a chance to make it all the way through the state without having to fill up. As I passed through Indianapolis, I set a small goal for myself; see if I could make it all the way through the state from north to south without spending a penny while being in it. Not to screw the Great State of Indiana, I spend enough there considering I find live there anymore; I just wanted to see if it could be done. 

It might have but eventually I stopped to gas up because I was really low and gas was $2.099, the cheapest I’d seen it yet and couldn’t pass it up. I stopped at the Pilot Station somewhere north of Louisville and the next person I really encountered today was as pleasant as could possibly be. Here I’m thinking, this guy works at a gas station in southern Indiana and what’s he so happy about, but then I realized that if you greet someone with a smile, they’ll smile back at you. Sometimes I think we forget that…it was either that or maybe because I dropped about $80 at his gas station…who really knows?

Shortly after gassing up, I hit traffic and got delayed for about 20 minutes to go 2 miles. I crossed over the Ohio River int Kentucky and saw that gas was 10 cents cheaper there; have you ever felt like you just got screwed? In all actuality, I paid about $3.60 more than I could have but running out of gas was a risk I didn’t want to take. 

At this point in time, the sun had already gone down and the trip through Kentucky was uneventful but harder due to the rain. All the while, I was playing it by ear and trying to figure out where to stop for the night. Knowing that I’m not under that big of a time crunch, I set the course for Bowling Green, Kentucky. As far as I know, there’s not much to do in Bowling Green, but I’ve spent a few nights here over the years so the decision was made and I’m glad that I made it. 

I’ve been writing all this from what could possibly be the worst motel room ever. The whole place is under reconstruction, there’s holes in the walls, the shower is terrible and the decor is up to absolutely nobody’s standards, but it’s ok by me. I found the Executive Inn in one of the travel guides and they were the cheapest. I’m sure $10 more could have gotten me a much better place but I think I felt like slumming it for a night.

What brought me here was advertised price. When I checked it, I talked to the guy at the front desk and by that I mean had a conversation. He was listening to some band is never heard before and we talked a little bit of music. There wa another guy sitting in the lobby and he asked me if I was a musician. I actually get this a lot, so I told him I dabble in it. The clerk asked me where I was going and I said around Sarasota. He said he was originally from Bradenton. That’s exactly where I’m heading on this one…small world, huh?

  
Here it is, the worst motel room in Kentucky, but it’s all mine for the night.

I got in the room but then quickly left because I had some other things to do. Got some gas and cigarettes and they were nice. Got some hair color because I was due, they were nice. Got some bourbon because I felt that it was appropriate being in Kentucky, they were nice.

The highlight of my night though was going to get my dinner.  When in the south, where do you go?

Waffle House.

I had the steak and eggs with hash browns that were of course smothered and covered. Again, everyone was friendly. It was just dinner at the Waffle House, not inherently special but somehow it was. As I was eating, I got a chance to listen to some live music. In the corner of the place, there was a guy in a wheelchair because he was missing a leg. He was in a Waffle House, playing his guitar and singing gospel music.

  
Pictures above of is Junior or JR in the process of playing for anyone who would listen.

He played Amazing Grace amongst other Christian music. Despite the fact that he only had one leg, this man was happy knowing that God loves him. I won’t get into my theory on God but I know he and I don’t see eye to eye on that one but I’m not going to argue because he made good music based on his belief system. 

The point of it all is that I question how someone like this can have so much faith while I can have so little. Although I don’t share the same opinion, he entertained and really made my night. I tipped him a couple bucks. Because he deserved it. In the end I guess the moral of the story is that we can have our differences but hopefully those differences aren’t so great that the love can’t show through.

Part 2 coming tomorrow and in the meantime, have a blessed day!

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