Applying for jobs out here is a whole other animal. My husband went to one place but they weren’t hiring. So that guy sent him to another place where he thought they might be looking for help, but when we checked there they weren’t hiring either. Then that guy sent him to check out another place.
And the fun thing is that no one gives street names with their directions. Our last instructions were:
Guy: “You go past the courthouse and turn and go over the bridge, then go past the bowling alley. You know where the bowling alley is?”
Mark: “I know where A bowling alley is.”
Guy: “That’s THE bowling alley. So you go past that and then you’ll see the new storage place on the right. You’ll see the guy’s shop with two big bay doors. That guy does the same shit you do. That’s where you want to go.”
Funny thing is, those directions were spot on.
I’m writing this installation from the passenger seat of a 17 foot U-Haul truck that’s rolling down the highway toward West Virginia. Six and a half weeks ago my husband and I made the decision to uproot ourselves from Idaho (where I’ve lived the past 16 years) and head east to West Virginia to be closer to some of my family. So today, after five days of packing and a full day of cleaning, we pulled away from our house to start a new adventure.
I’ve been in this truck for the past six and a half hours, excluding a few pit stops along the way. My husband has been driving this truck and my son is driving our pickup truck, which is currently pulling a small enclosed trailer. We’re supposed to be stopping in Cheyenne, Wyoming but we’re most likely going to fall about four hours short of that goal. There were a couple of setbacks this morning, such as the property manager showing up late for our walk through and then having to replace the tire on our trailer.
It’s been a long day and I know my husband needed a break so I happily offered up myself as an alternate driver. (This was part of our original plan; me taking turns driving the two vehicles to give my husband and son breaks).
But as soon as I pulled away from the remote gas station alongside the Idaho highway, I began having trouble. This moving truck doesn’t steer like our pickup truck. It doesn’t brake like our pickup truck. It doesn’t shift (or sound) like our pickup truck. The engine protested loudly as I tried to gain speed to get on the highway. Was this thing going to blow up?! It felt like I couldn’t keep it straight between the lines. Just the slightest adjustment of the steering wheel made me feel like I was going to swerve and go careening off the highway.
Panic set in. My voice raised a couple of octaves and I started to sound like Fran Drescher. I loudly demanded to know why the truck sounded like that, why the truck moved like that, what happened if we hurtled off the highway to our fiery deaths?! My husband, after traveling just a couple of miles down the highway with me in charge at the wheel, demanded that I pull off at the next exit. Although I couldn’t see his face (I was much too petrified to pull my eyes from the road), I’m certain there was terror in his eyes. I managed to get the behemoth truck pulled off the road and stopped. My husband quickly jumped out (but luckily refrained from kissing the ground and driving home the humiliation even further) and yanked open the driver’s door, beckoning me to relinquish the position of driver.
I somehow made my way back into the passenger seat without sinking into the earth itself from embarrassment.
I tried holding back tears and failed. We’ve taken countless road trips before and I always did my part as co-driver so my husband could get a break. We still have the rest of tonight and two more full days of driving…how can I just sit here and play navigator? Any smartphone can be a navigator!
As my husband expertly eased the truck back onto the highway, I put my seat back into the semi-reclined position, rivaled only by airline seats. I curled into a ball and closed my eyes and willed myself to fall asleep. Bit the tears of humiliation kept me from slumber.
After a couple of hours passed in silence, my husband skillfully pulled off the highway to get some gas and food. I quietly gathered my dog from the other truck and took her for a walk in the grass. I figured a meager navigator was also delegated the task of bagging dog poop. While watching my dog sniff the 1,001st blade of grass, my husband sauntered up to me.
Without a word, he folded me gently into his arms and held me. I felt the embarrassment and guilt melt away.
Maybe being a navigator isn’t so bad after all…