Right at the moment, there's a truck driver making his way down 64 between the 29th Street Exit and Exit 20 near the mall who has been on the road for three weeks straight. He doesn't live anywhere near here, and there are moments when he stares down at the road and he forgets where he's from, where he started, where he's going. All he knows is his truck and the highway in front of him. The lines in the middle of the road passing by one at a time.
To him, this stretch of road looks like every other one out there.
He's been down this way and back more times than he can count, but he can't for the life of him ever get acquainted to any one place because after a while it all starts to blur together. All he knows is how many miles his odometer says he's gone and how many miles his GPS says are left.
He has a calendar in the back cabin of his semi where his bed is, and each evening whenever he pulls to the side of the road, he takes his pen and crosses another day off of it. He gets to go back home to his family on the date he's circled, but that box seems to get farther away every time he looks at it. Yesterday evening, as he put down his pen, he said to himself, "That's just the way it goes."
In a few miles, he'll get off the highway at the Teays Valley Truck Stop and grab some lunch and some coffee. His waitress will call him "sugar" and jot down his order. Today, she's been there since before the sun was up. After the lunch rush, her shift will be over, but just like yesterday, her boss might ask her to stay. Someone's bound to call in sick. No doubt it'll be one of the younger ones who doesn't yet know what putting in an honest day's work means.
She'll say Yes. She'll stay. She likes the extra tips. And although she never imagined at forty-nine-years-old she'd be pouring coffee for the truckers along the interstate, she likes it better than being at home. It's February and cold in her trailer home. Her boyfriend's there, and all he does is stay on the couch and complain. If only he could find a job where he could get paid to complain, they'd be rich. She says that to herself often. Sometimes she laughs.
Yes, she'll stay and work a few more hours. It's warm inside the restaurant and she doesn't mind her boss. It's better than being at home. So, she picks up another carafe of hot coffee because Table 7 needs a refill. She says aloud but quiet enough for only her to hear: "That's just the way it goes." It's her daily lament. The truck driver's, too.
"That's just the way it goes."
What do you do when you're at the end of your rope, and still you come up dry?