I’m the daughter of a lowboy driver. Since before I was born, my dad has worked on the road, Monday through Friday, from March until November. As a child, that was just how it was. Somehow he still made it home for every concert, every play, and every figure skating show. I can clearly recall a conversation we had once when I was a teenager. I was angry that he was always gone, angry that I had to miss my dad when every other girl in the world got to spend time with theirs whenever they wanted. He responded by saying, “Newnie Bug (my childhood nickname), don’t think that when I see the fathers taking their daughters fishing, I don’t wish I could be with you and take you fishing. I hate it, but I have to pay the bills.” The odd thing is, even when we were having that conversation, I didn’t realize how lucky I was that my dad was a truck driver. Unfortunately, I wouldn’t realize that until I was grown and living far from home.
My Dad Can Do Things That Some Dads Can’t
See, to be a truck driver, one must have a few very special skillsets that a lot of other people don’t really need. For example, my dad can drive for twelve hours straight without breaking a sweat or growing tired. When I was child, this meant we could take family trips to places like Texas and not have to waste money on four plane tickets (I have a big brother, too) or a rental car. When I was in Marine Corps and would finish different segments of my training, this meant that he and my mom could drive the fourteen hours to whichever graduation I was having that month. While I was stationed in Virginia, this meant that he could drive out and bring me a new car from Wisconsin. After I was honorably discharged, it meant that he could fly out and drive me – and all of my belongings – home.
Another benefit of being a truck driver is that you have a hands on nature. Essentially, my dad is capable of fixing or building just about anything. I don’t know if it’s necessarily because he drives around in his semi all day – figuring out how to stop things from rattling and trying to learn what that odd sound is – or if he just always knew how to do things. If I have a car issue, my dad is the first one I call. He either tells me not to worry or tells me to drive it into the garage, since I live too far away for him to just stop in and fix it. He lives by the laws of WD-40, zip ties, and duct tape, with the capability of changing a tire in ten minutes flat. Beyond that, as a child, his “hook-ups” from work allowed us to pave our drive way and borrow the equipment needed to build our house, our garage, and my brother’s race track.
Finally, my dad is the master of time management. When I was little, he had one night and two days every week to not only get everything that needed to be done around our house done, but to help his friends get stuff around their house done, too. Throw in some kind of event that our family had to attend every weekend, world class breakfasts (eggs benedict and waffles are his specialty), and four hours of book work and that was his average weekend. Yet, somehow, every Sunday night he would have time to sing me my special song while I sat on his lap drinking the chocolate malt – that he made me – watching whatever football game or crime show my mom had on the television. Then Monday morning would come and dad would be on the road again.
I Got To Appreciate My Family More
I like to think that, with him being gone for a large portion of my life, I got to learn to appreciate everyone in my family more and, consequently, love them more. See, Monday through Friday, mom ran the house. She’d designate our chores – washing the dishes, loading/unloading the dishwasher, sweeping the kitchen, cleaning the bathroom, prepping dinner – and then she handled the rest. From middle school on, she also had a fulltime job, so I can’t imagine it was easy to deal with a daughter with an attitude problem on top of everything else. Luckily, she had my big brother to help ease the load a little. However, he and I fought like cats and dogs, which I know didn’t help alleviate her stress. She’d get angry and punish me, then on Friday, dad would punish me again.
Then there was Dustin, my big brother. As he got older, he relieved some of the duties of my parents by helping them get stuff finished at the house and by helping ensure I was inline. (I’m really not kidding, I was a complete asshole.) Honestly, looking back, I don’t know how they would have done it, had he been any other kid. Dustin would help mom by cooking dinner, picking me up from sports practice, and occasionally running me to whatever destination I just needed to go to. More so, though, Dustin would be there when I was upset after a bad day at school. He would hug me if I got dumped and tell me everything was okay. He would encourage me to go outside and play. He provided advice and guidance from a perspective that most girls never get, because most of them have both their parents around, constantly. I mean, all the while, Dustin was also secretly torturing me with horror movies – that mom didn’t know about, before this – and relentlessly pestering me. I know for a fact he blew up at least two Barbie-dolls, destroyed dozens of Polly Pocket villages (I’m talking the old, awesome Polly Pockets), and kicked one – or two – soccer balls into my stomach.
Finally, there was dad. In our home, especially during the warmer seasons, weekends started when dad got home and not one minute sooner. We lived in the country, so I could hear his truck pulling up, hear his brakes compress, and, finally, hear the beeping as he backed up the driveway. I don’t want to assume undue credit, but I’m pretty sure I was normally the first one out the front door when he arrived. Over the weekend, after any needed counseling from my actions during the week, there was less – almost no – fighting in our home. See, dad was home and we had learned to treasure the fleeting weekends. I actually pity most people because they never got to appreciate their dad at the level that I did. It’s odd, but when you have something all of the time, you don’t realize what it’s like to not have that. I did, I knew my entire life. My dad had cancer when I was two, so looking back, my life could have had a whole lot less of him. I can confidentially say that, had that happened, I would not be the person I am today.
As An Adult, It Is Easier To Appreciate
As you’ve probably realized by this point, my childhood was unique and, unfortunately, as a child, I wasn’t very good at handling it. I would spend nights crying because daddy was gone. I was terrified he might not return, which even now is understandable – at least from a five or six year old’s perspective. Yet, as an adult, I would’ve never had it any other way.
See, I have this respect for truck drivers and I would never cut them off. I like to think that they might have a little girl at home who is looking forward to seeing their daddy. When I was younger, there was nothing more exciting than the nights that he would happen to be nearby enough that he could come home.
Now a days, he’ll occasionally end up being near the town I live in now. The odd part is, he normally only ends up here during the weeks when I could really use a big hug from my dad. Those nights are still the best, whether we eat a sub sandwich or a New York sirloin for dinner, its perfect – because dad is there. On the weekends, he goes home to my mom – named Diane – and Dustin and his family (which includes two little boys who love their grandpa – named Papa – to death and his soon-to-be wife, as well as her children) still live nearby enough to appreciate what dad coming home means.
Maybe that’s what I’m trying to share with the world, though. Those truck drivers that you are so determined to get in front of, they have families. Instead of being with them every night, they’re out there driving down the road – hauling fuel, food, asphalt, equipment, and other commodities that we need to survive. They have little girls and boys who are home, impatiently awaiting the arrival of their daddy – or mommy. When you cut them off, they can’t stop as fast as you can. If their brakes go out, their truck will destroy your car and – unfortunately, due to the way Americans tend to perceive truck drivers – instead of going home to their families, they’ll be sitting in prison because you drove like a jackass and couldn’t wait five extra minutes to get home to the home you sleep at every night.