By: Andrew Campbell
I had always thought of myself as one who wasn’t tied down or dependent on anything, but as I sat in the driver seat of a lifeless semi-truck, I came to realize that I wasn’t as free as I thought. I wasn’t being held back by something that most people see as a burden; I was being held back by something that most people lean on daily.
That morning, the sun was peaking over the tree line as I woke up and saw a blanket of fog hugging my truck’s windshield, and the old convenience store, whose dim lights had guided me off the road the night before, was now hardly visible. I crawled across the truck’s cab, opened the door, and climbed down the dew-covered steps. The frozen ground crunched below my feet as I walked toward the entrance. Above the glass door, a sign hung low that read, “Come on in. We are all family here.”
A small grin curled my lips as the door swung open and warm air brushed against my face. I slowly walked through the store, realizing that the sign’s statement was true. All three employees had pleasant smiles, gave kind greetings, and offered casual conversation, but time pressed and pushed me to buy my breakfast and walk back to the truck without the chance to enjoy the peaceful scene.
As I settled into the driver’s seat and opened the package that held my food, my hand reached for the truck’s computer screen. My finger tapped the display’s power button, and when the screen stayed black, I pressed it again, holding it longer than usual. My stomach sank deep into my back, and I started to fumble through the wires that ran across the dashboard. Another failure forced my hand to pick up my phone.
Elevator music softly played after I dialed technical support, and a voice warned me of long hold times. My restless feet shuffled across the floor as I watched the seconds pass and minutes come. But as I waited, I felt anxiety start to crawl across my feet, up my leg, and through my back, and when the call’s timer reached twenty-five minutes, a quiet voice introduced itself.
Without much explanation, the girl on the other end of the line started to fix the problem, and after five minutes, the computer was on and working. My heart raced the clock, and no thought other than delivering my trailer on time caught my mind’s attention. I cranked the truck, put it in gear, and started down the old road.
A small town greeted me after I drove a few miles along the empty highway, and a red light stopped my truck. As I waited, I saw an aged man on a buggy that was being led by a horse. Behind the man, three small children sat in a row on top of old sackcloth bags. A grey beard hung low from the elderly man’s face and covered most of the black suit he wore, and the girl’s dresses danced with the cool morning breeze.
As the horse pulled them in my direction, the girls laughter kept my eyes’ attention, and as they got closer, all three of them threw their hands in the air and signaled me to blow my horn. The man’s smile gave me permission, and as I pulled the wire above me, the truck’s blast jolted the three girls to their feet. They cheered with a dance, and the man’s head tilted back with laughter as the horse pulled them out of my sight.
My head rolled to the road in front of me as the light turned green. The truck pushed along, and I felt my anxiety escape. A smile stretched across my face. I leaned back in my seat, took a deep breath, and hoped to always remember the simple things.