Life on the Road

A second life, a life within your life, is not uncommon in modern society. Whether it is a secret online identity or a membership in a club, most individuals belong to many various groups in which they can express different aspects of the self feely. For some, an alternate life can be enabled by a profession. Sensa Nostra talked to a truck driver who found his self-determination on the open road.

When I was twenty, all fed up with school and the responsibilities, I was offered a job as a truck driver. Earning a living and taking full care of myself was all I wanted at the time, and accepting it seemed like an obvious choice. The job of a truck driver is not nearly as restricted as other jobs. When you are on the road, you are free to be your own person. All you have to do is drive. There is no specific dress code or even a set hour for everything. If you want to sleep in late, you can, and if you want to take a longer break, that’s what you do. No one is there to tell you how to behave or what to do, how to comb your hair or make sure your socks match. You do what you want and when you want it, as long as you keep driving forward.

You’d think it gets boring, being on the road all the time—and at times, it definitely does—but driving a truck is about more than just staring at the empty road ahead of you. On the road, you push your normal self aside and become a different person. You are no longer only a father, a husband, and a son. The road liberates you from your everyday responsibilities. It’s another world out there on the open road, and if you are willing to make it interesting, you have every chance to do so. The parking lots are always full and meeting people is not a problem. Once you get to know the crowd that is driving the same road as you, it gets much more exciting. The guys and I often arrange meetings on the parking lots and sometimes we even organize little picnics. We just put some meat on a burner, go buy some beers, and we have ourselves a party.

Even with all these freedoms, there are still some restrictions when it comes to driving a truck, though they are few in number. The most annoying one is the rule that you have to stop every four and a half hours. But you know what they say, if there’s a rule, there’s a way to break it. Luckily enough, someone figured out you can confuse the machine that’s measuring the driving time with a special magnet, so if an intended break is really inconvenient for you, you can skip it easily. The cops know about this little trick, but as long as they don’t find a magnet in our cabin, you should be fine.

The cabin of my truck is my home away from home and that shows at first sight. It is filled with gifts from my kids, coffee cups, and my clothes. Photographs of my children are a must, too. Those are a required object not only because you want something to remember them by, but also because they demonstrate that you are a family guy. It’s important to let the cops know that. They are much more likely to let you go with just a warning if they know that you have the little ones to take care of. One of my friends has about six or seven pictures of his kids in his cabin, and all from different ages, just so that it seems like he really has that many children. He never gets a ticket. It’s also nice to have something to remember them by. Being on the road for four days a week, at least, you do start to miss them. However, while having a family is a full-time obligation, it can only be a part-time commitment for a truck driver. To be there for them at all times is simply not an option.

The fact that our time together is so limited shows within the family relations. Since I’m so rarely there, my wife is the one who is responsible for most of the domestic work. I come home completely exhausted from days of driving and I have little energy left to help with the housework. For me, home is a place away from my work. I do assist my wife in some areas, but she remains the one who does most of the household chores even when I am at home. Since I can’t be there as often as she is, this division of roles is inevitable. I’ve taken the role of family provider, while she’s established herself as the one that is in charge of the household. It does get overwhelming for her and she complains about me not being home enough, but I just can’t do anything about it.

Moreover, she spends so much more time with our children than I do, meaning she’s also the one that does most of the parenting. While I’m in Germany or in Serbia, my wife is home to teach our children right from wrong. She’s the one who tells them what they cannot do and punishes them when they don’t obey, while I, on the other hand, get to be the guy who buys them toys and plays with them during the weekend. I realize that this is not fair to her. She does most of the hard work and gets very little credit for it. My kids love me more just because I am not the one who is making them eat broccoli and telling them they shouldn’t jump on the bed. They only get the good side of me—I’m the guy who comes home to fix the things that are broken and who buys them things they want. To them, I am like a superhero. Even though their impression of me is completely unwarranted, I have to admit that being the good guy of the family is certainly not a bad feeling.

I’ve been on the road for nine years now. I got so used to the fact that I’m always on my way it got hard for me to stay put for too long. After one weekend with my family I’m already longing for a new journey to start. It’s a great feeling, knowing you get to go on the road soon and leave everything behind. But then again, it’s also a good feeling to come back home. The closer I get to my house, the more I want to be there to finally see my family. And the closer the time is to leave, the more I want to taste the road again. For me, there is no final destination, where I belong is somewhere in between: everywhere but nowhere at once.

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