As a driver, I learned a long time ago how important it is to get enough sleep. When I was driving Over The Road (OTR) and I got home, I usually was in a bad mood due-to-the-fact-that I was tired. Being tired and grumpy made my time at home not as enjoyable as it should have been. So when I realized that, thereafter when I was on my way home and tired, instead of going home where I wanted to be, I would stop and take a nap to refresh myself.
When I got the job with Precision Fuel Haulers, being tired took on a whole new meaning. There were days that I would put in only 12 hours, but there were others that I put in 18 – 20. From the shop back to the ranch was a 45 minute drive. So if I had a long night, then had to drive back to the ranch, shower and eat, that left only a few hours (4 – 5) for me to sleep, if I was lucky. That is not enough for me, especially when I have to drive an 80,000# guided missile!
Then there were two incidents: one, when I fell asleep at the wheel of my car going home; and another when I realized I was home and had not a clue as to how I got there! I decided for safety’s sake to get an apartment in Greeley close to the shop. If I had a long night, I would stay at the apartment; if it was short, then I’d go back to the ranch.
That day started out about as typical as any other day. I had stayed at the apartment and got up at 3 P.M. like I did, and got to the shop about 5. There was nobody else there. Got my dispatch from the boss on the phone and head on down to Denver. I went to Suncor, the refinery, and loaded up the truck. There was one truck pulling out as I pulled in, and as I was leaving a couple of other trucks showed up. I made my delivery, and there was nobody at that station as they were closed. I then went to the Conoco pipeline and loaded for Avon. Once again as I pulled out a couple of trucks showed up as I was leaving. I drove to Avon and as my luck would have it, the store was closed by the time I got there, and there was nobody there. I made my delivery and headed back to Denver to Suncor to load up. There were no trucks there. I head up to Greeley to make my delivery and that station, too, was closed. Got done at that delivery, went back to the shop and dropped off the truck. There was nobody there. That was a short night in comparison to some nights. But I was tired, so I decided to go back to the apartment.
When I got back to my apartment, everybody in the building was still in bed or had already left for work. I didn't see anybody there. I got up to my apartment and got ready for bed. I said my prayers and thanked God that He once again kept me safe.
I laid down and then it dawned on me: it was kind of like a wave washing over me, a very weird sensation, one that is very difficult to explain, even as a writer. Not unlike the bottom dropping out of a bucket, or that moment when you close the door on your car and you realize you left the keys inside. The whole night, for that 11 hours, I didn't have contact with any other human! I saw nobody else in person, and I talked to no other person, person to person. The only person I had talked to was the boss on the phone when I got my dispatch.
The weight of that realization laid me flat out like I was crushed by a ton of bricks. I instantly succumbed to the wave of emotion that washed over me. I had suddenly realized how alone, and lonely, I was.