I've always said I must have been a truck driver in a former life due to my love for pie and a shameful penchant for cussing. Sometimes, depending upon my audience, I class it up a bit and suggest I may have been a race car driver instead. But that would be lying. Despite having a heavy foot on the gas pedal, those other habits don't really fit the bill.
So it amuses me to have found myself this week passing through a threshold of sorts when I rented a U-Haul truck and drove some 300 miles through Ohio. The significance has less to do with reincarnation and more to do with helping my parents move through the next stage in their lives. That and getting an emergency call during the trip from my daughter who found herself at Grand Central Station with minus $3 in her checking account.
I volunteered to help mom in her quest to downsize. We moved furniture and storage bins full of keepsakes down several steps and up into the back of the truck via the long loading ramp, making many trips. Once I got the hang of unlatching and hoisting up the heavy backdoor and pulling out the ramp, and then sliding the ramp back in, yanking the door back down and throwing the lock, I didn't mind doing it, even when we kept having to add in last minute boxes and tubs and things. Pound, clack, clamp ... pound, clack, clamp ... it was uncanny and a bit scary how satisfying the sounds!
I cringed as the vacuum from passing semi trucks threatened to suck me in along the way and I confess to cutting short a curb here and there. However, I surprised myself by backing into more than one tight space and actually choosing the correct type of gas to fill her up at the station. It would please me to no end if my high school geometry teacher were informed that nothing I packed and wrapped in protective coverings was broken nor scratched. Despite having flunked geometry, I pride myself upon being a good packer, that and a good typer. There should be a course for packing; it's obviously more practical. Besides, any five-year-old can get an A in typing.
Riding in the right hand slow lane meant more than the usual amount of merging for me, but what was most disconcerting was the out of body sensation I felt whenever I spotted a state trooper on the highway. Naturally, my eyes rapidly shifted from the road to the speedometer. This time though I had to stare a bit longer at the position of the little arm in order to comprehend it. South of 60 mph is unfamiliar territory for me, you see, and it took me a second to realize that I could relax let alone feel what relaxing felt like when in the presence of a state trooper. Who knew?
There was a time earlier in the year, after I retired from my day job, when I thought I might tidy up all of the loose ends I left unaccomplished and focus more on myself. The whole trucking experience and the desperate call from my daughter finds me planted firmly within the sandwich generation instead, forcing me to forgo any set plans, slow down, and breath in and out during each new experience, taking them as they come.
Our kids need guidance and emotional support through the various stages of their college education and my parents and in-laws require more care and attention. It's just the situation. Both sides demand time for calls and trips, planning and practical thought, not to mention emergency money. There's no need for speeding through it.
At least it's my good fortune that both require an excellent packer.