So yeah...I'm on a road train once again. A couple of weeks into it and I've already lost track of what day it is. Suddenly I'm watching the train line-ups and going to bed early, trying to grab some sleep before the midnight hour; like I've done so many times before. Almost without fail, Crew Management will jingle the phone at an odd time and away we go again. The dogs look at me like I've lost my mind when I get up and let them out at three in the morning after another early call. They woof to come in about the time the coffee is done and usually re-crash somewhere by the time I get my thermos loaded, give Chris a smooch that she won't remember and roll my little truck out the driveway. Suddenly, time seems a bit scarce when I have to keep one eye on the clock and listen for the phone. The Home suffers.
I was almost getting used to having a regular show-up time and weekends off like most people in the real world. What a concept...knowing when and where you're going to work. It's been a long time since I did anything remotely like that. About 15 years to be exact. There was a little while along the way in the last couple of months when I had my cell phone set to only ring as an alarm clock and I even had my night-stand phone unplugged but I knew it couldn't last. My work-train temporary home was abolished for the winter and so here I am, rolling along behind the headlights and wailing away at the crossings again.
A few months on those local jobs and I just about convinced myself to forget what the long-haul grind was like. Wee-hour phone calls from the little automated voice at CMC; drives to work in the pre-dawn dark; crummy mini-mart food and burning eyeballs from too little sleep. Sometimes it seemed like I'd been doing this all my life and the merry-go-round just kept on spinning. It gets old.
Having said that though, I guess I really am a mileage guy most of the time. After a few trips, I remembered why I tend to like the road. Yes, you run the same track over and over but the scenery is always changing and sometimes dawn through a windshield is absolutely spectacular. Besides, I'm probably lucky in that I still actually like what I do...the nonsense that goes with it I could live without but running a train from A to B and back just seems to suit me. Good thing because I've got a long way to go before I can throw out my rulebook and call it a career. Years of living out of a grip and trudging off to work when everyone else is sleeping seems like some form of normal to me most of the time. I've done this so long that I fell right back into the groove after the work train ended. It'll take a while to get used to not having the same day off from one week to the next but for now, this'll have to do.
It'll make everything a bit of a challenge for a while...till the next regular job comes along anyway. Till then I'll fumble along like always...maybe even a bike ride now and again in between trips and snow flurries. The Wayward Home might get a little neglected but just like the real home, I always find my way back sometime. No matter how far I go or where the rails lead, it's always good to be back.