What Traveling Has Taught Me About Trucking

Living in Montana, landlocked by the so-called fly-over states, it’s easy to forget that the world around us moves at a very different pace. By and large, that pace is faster, brighter, more aggressive, and louder. It’s tightly packed, towering with buildings, crowded, and doesn’t seem to sleep. It’s as exciting as it is exhausting and navigating the raging torrent of stimulus can be a logistical nightmare.

Yes, having a smart phone or GPS makes it less of a feat, and with Uber or Lyft, you can avoid the stress of city traffic and paid parking. I had the opportunity on one recent trip to experience traffic on the 405. I didn’t drive, I took an Uber from LAX to Costa Mesa, in the southern part of the greater Los Angeles blast radius.

I learned that nobody drives on the 405 – they continually re-park their cars. What would be a 30 min drive in Montana miles turned into a harrowing hour and a half, crawling across an asphalt hell scape. There was no getting off to use the bathroom or taking a faster route through town. As I sat there giggling over my bad luck, I noticed a Semi-truck a few lanes over to my right, and it hit me like a ton of bricks: How the heck do our drivers make it around these metropolises?

It happens often enough as I navigate the traffic of Billings, Montana that I wonder how our truckers do it. Other drivers are homicidal maniacs, weather conditions are surely my punishment for something – I know not what, and whatever sadistic lunatic orchestrates road construction around here has a devil reserved exclusively for their eternal torment. Then I think about hurtling through the streets of Bangkok, Thailand in a tuk tuk (like a motorcycle made a baby with a golf cart), weaving through stupefying gridlock at thirty miles per hour, and I realize after the fact that TRUCKERS HAVE TO DRIVE THROUGH THAT, too!

I won’t even leave the house for something I can order on Amazon, and even though I work in the trucking industry I seldom stop to think about how many truck drivers had to handle my 2-day Prime delivery of shampoo. I love fresh vegetables, but the lawn and garden center’s best specialists wring their hands at my baffling ability to bring death upon even the heartiest, most idiot-proof house plants, so there’s no way I’m raising fresh produce unless it’s from the shelf to the shopping cart. My life is a kaleidoscope of items I want and need but can’t have without the help of the nameless and faceless thousands of truck drivers in my life.

So, thank you to the truck driver who delivers my French macarons from the civilized world to the far-flung reaches of the north country. Thanks also to the trucker who makes sure that my kids have fresh milk for their cereal, and the ones who make sure that we can buy school supplies in the fall. A thousand times thank you to the truckers who deliver the life-saving drugs that have saved the lives of countless loved ones.

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