It’s a lovely Friday morning at 5:42. The sun isn’t up yet but I am; after the first night back on our Sleep Number bed and I’m feeling refreshed and invigorated. In just a few minutes Katy will be crossing into Texas from Arkansas as the Texas Eagle makes it’s way south.
We have been messaging back and forth with our daughter since about noon on Thursday — as she arrived at the Amtrak station in Milwaukee and then step by step as she makes her way (or rather the Texas Eagle makes it’s way) South to Austin. Not only has travel changed immeasurably over our lifetime — so has public attitude about keeping in touch.
In about 1976 I hit the road as an over the road driver. In those days one of the biggest trailer load contract haulers was North American Van Lines New Products Division. They had a train-the-driver school and about 8 years into our marriage I wasn’t happy with my progress at my current job — a decision that turned out to be en point as a few years later the company was sold and dismantled — and I hit the road in hopes of making a better future for the family. I didn’t stay with trucking long — I went through three tractors before leaving the field in the late 80’s.
The first load I ever hauled went from Remington IN to Santa Rosa CA, in a brand new tractor, with muscles very much unprepared for the route through Missouri on I-44 which had my right leg aching from using the clutch the second morning into the trip! If ever there was a reason to learn how to shift without using the clutch it was hauling 80,000 lbs through the Missouri hills with a little 290 hp Cummins engine. That very first trip I decided as soon as I could afford it I’d trade out of that little 10 speed RoadRanger and get me a truck with a few more horses and a 13 speed transmission that would make life a lot easier because you didn’t have to move the shift lever as often. But most of you don’t care about all of that. And I diverge from my thoughts about communications.
There weren’t cell phones as we know them in the late 70’s; telephone booths were still the more common way of communicating long distance for guys like me and I spent a lot of time in them. But finding a phone booth I could get to with 60 foot of truck wasn’t such an easy thing and I spent most of the next 10 years talking with Peggy when I could — which meant several times on a day when I was sitting around waiting for a load, and every couple/few days when I was motoring around the country because the phone booths alongside the road weren’t all that common and I had work to do.
As cell phones started to be more common I snatched one up but coverage wasn’t all that great. I remember pulling alongside the highway on hills with good sight lines so I could call home when there was a signal available. I remember climbing on top of my flatbed load to get as high as I could get — in the cold — so I could get a better signal before placing my call. And freezing while I called home to talk to Peg & Katy.
We made do with a lot fewer phone calls and zero text messages. When wireless data became available I hopped on that and started sending emails. But those early days of wireless data were expensive (for what you got) and really unreliable. I remember years running when I couldn’t get a wireless signal north of Stevens Point Wisconsin — anywhere in the state.
Nowadays people think nothing of texting even the most bizarre topics. All of which I find bizarre because it’s faster and easier to speak the words in a text message. Why people don’t just call each other is beyond me. There must be some sort of scale that determines when one calls/speaks and when one ‘just’ messages.
As you know I like face to face contact. I don’t really care for phones. I’d rather see the person I’m talking with; doing business with. When that’s not possible I’ll use the phone. I haven’t really embraced messages — I tolerate them I guess but they seem more of an interruption in my life than a phone call might be. Of course, you don’t have to respond immediately to a text — or so they say — it seems as if the arrival of a text implies that you will stop anything you are doing and answer it. I guess I have problems with peer pressure — at least in that form. I assume it’s something important the same way I assumed that a phone call was something “important.” Obviously, that’s not the case. And using texts to chit-chat the way I usually chat with Peggy about normal everyday nonsense just seems silly. I guess I still think things have to have a ‘purpose’ — some things clearly don’t.
Wont be long now and Katy will be off the train, spend a couple days with other friends and family, and then we’ll pick her up. Looking forward to it!
That’s about it for today. Have a great one and thanks for stopping.