Chicken Lights And Chrome
You can see us coming from a million miles away, she lights up the sky like the Fourth of July. I got a wife back in Tennessee waiting at home for me, lord knows I wish I was with her tonight. But my load is bound for Santa Fe, got to make it in two days. I’m just a long haul trucker and that’s all I’ll ever be. West bound on I-40 headed into the sunset, drive all night and find a truck stop to shut it down for some sleep, then up again and pour on the coal, got to be in Santa Fe by next morning’s light. We’re a two stack Mack with a bunk in the back with a couple hundred lights or so just blazing through the night listening to XM radio play those same old cowboy songs I know by heart.
Late at night my mind slips into that same old routine, got the heat turned down to let the cold be a couple or hundred of keep me awake while talk radio keeps me distracted from the urge to sleep. This old rig makes the miles turn fast to get me down the line, a couple hundred miles to go. Day light coming lights up my destination, warehouse dock where I can unload and grab a few hours of sleep. Dispatch line up another load, a short haul to Casper, just follow I-25 north, a little more money in my sock. They got a Pilot up there with a hot shower just waiting for me. Been on the road for over a month now, time to start thinking about going home if these loads line up right, but they never seem to do. And my week home is always cut short by some shipper who’s got deadlines to meet. Bobbie Jo says I ought quit and come off the road but long haul trucking is all I’ll ever know.
Chicken lights and chrome, must a couple hundred or so, light up the sky like the fourth of July, as I head down the road. She’s too damn bright, she lights up the night and I miss my baby tonight. So it’s down the road spinning those zeros spinning past got to make my home in Tennessee, my woman is waiting for me, then it off I go down the road got destinations to keep and loads to meet. It’s a never ending routine, men and machines, and loads who must begin. Let the cats pull the trucks with their loads to their final ends, truckers favorite song, Alabama roll on, more miles logged towards home. XM radio is playing me a song all about trucking, got me thinking about home, the night passes as and I see the white lines roll by. Morning comes and the lights lose their brightness as I roll through the scales, my log book behind but I don’t care, just a few more hours to reach my destination. I’ve got these last few miles pushing me, the end of the night and the start of another run, another eleven hours to sleep, eat, and inspect my truck. Think I’ll be old before my time.
New day gone and evening come, time to turn around and head back with a new load, this truck is fast and the zeros roll past, a long haul trucker is all I’ll ever be. North bound and down, McCook is my nest stop, a lot of back roads, US highways traveling like an Etch-A-Sketch screen two lane highways and speeds slower that the Interstate, time slows down. Back county roads, state highways, two lane roads and stop signs up ahead, can’t make much time with these short runs, mileage versus time low, job for a day cab trucker, still, money in the sock. These farmers take their time unloading, got to drive out into the fields and stop every so often to let them unload the pipe and the wheels, no body paying for my time and then it’s back the way I cam for another pickup at McCook. Spent my week in Kansas, rather have been on the road to New Mexico or Arizona.
Back over to Case in York, Nebraska, got a wide load, 14 foot combine headed for Boise Idaho. It’s a slow ride but pays for the over sized load. Run sunrise to sunset at double nickel speed in the lanes designated by each state DOT. Oversize adds an extra dine per mile but it comes at a cost, got to be aware for each overpass I come to, may have to straddle two lanes and push the public four wheelers out of my way, I ain’t smashing $250.000 into an over pass. So I arrive in York and find my load, a lowboy goose neck waiting for me. Get it chained down and find the paperwork, head down the road ti I-80 west. Drive for a few hours until sunset, pull off the interstate onto an off-ramp/on-ramp for the night, make sure other vehicles have room to pass. Break out the propane burner and cook my meal, tonight it’s home made soup with noodles and canned chicken, some dried peas added for flavor. The it’s off to bed, got to be moving by early morning’s light. The highway sounds slip through my sleep over the engine’s idle roar. It’s late autumn and the weather has turned to ice at night.
Reach the farm destination, they want me to unload the combine so I take the chains off and they put the wheels on, and I drop the lowboy on the ground, drive the combine off my trailer, nothing to it. Get the lowboy back on the fifth wheel and off I go, swapping trailers with another company trucker, flatbed with hay bound for New Jersey, and got to tarp the load, cows don’t like the taste of diesel smoke. About a four day run if I’m lucky, maybe five, never know. Back down I-84 to Salt Lake and I-80 east, need a shower and once I hit the Ohio turnpike the showers are free at the rest stops. It’s been four days and these sponge baths have their limits. With a little luck I might get a load coming close to home where my woman is waiting for me. We can pretend we’re not strangers for a couple of days. Then it’s back on the road, chicken lights and chrome, I’m headed home, a long haul trucker is all I’ll ever be.
One thought on “Chicken Lights And Chrome”
I like your prose. It’s almost a song. And I notice you’ve used a few lines from trucker songs. Keep on Truckin’