Breakfast with New Friends
Trucking school began at oh-seven hundred every morning, and on most days the sun hadn’t even considered rising when we began our pre-trip inspections or started coupling and uncoupling the oldest truck in the fleet. So when given the opportunity to arrive at school as late as nine o’clock on our final day, a natural assumption to sleep late and enjoy driving in daylight may seem natural, however incorrect. Rather, we gathered as a small group, breaking pancakes together and bidding each other farewell as we truly hoped each other would fare well in the future. The beginning of the end began with an amiable breakfast.
It occurred to me as I gazed around the corner booth where we had slid an extra chair for the full crowd that I might never see these men and women again. In the short span of three weeks, I felt a family familiarity with these new friends. Wondering where their individual paths would take them kept me quiet as the waitress came back for coffee refills around the table. I swapped phone numbers and emails. I friended people on Facebook and I made mental notes of which companies were drafting which drivers. I wasn’t going to let these fine folks fade into my history.
Pimp and Circumstances
Graduation festivities at truck driving school in no way resemble a tradition commencement. For starters, before a single diploma has been conferred, servings of cake are sliced and devoured. A recruiting-slash-referral seminar financially encourages students to send their family and friends to follow in the footsteps and I struggle throughout to stop mentally proofreading the presentation. Paperwork remains to be finished and signed (tell me again, why did we already eat the cake?) as students and a few sporadic family members drive laps around the track. Soon-to-be graduates pose with tractor trailers in traditional prison line-up and provocative pimp-pleasing positions, neither of which would be flattering on the Internet.
Clearly, the past three weeks vaporized. In one of the swiftest passing periods of time that I can recall, I transformed my future from office grunt to growling road warrior. Now as I walk around the desolate driving track, pacing really, I consider in what ways this twenty-one day experience has transformed me. Tucked in my pocket, my new commercial driver’s license professes to the driving universe that I belong in this world, ready to circumnavigate the country with eighteen wheels beneath me and the entire future ahead of me. I am changing the circumstances of my life, morphing into a stronger, more empowered, free spirit. Now I can have my cake, and because of the unusual schedule of the day’s festivities, have eaten it, too.