David Linze, former truck driver, gave us one of the best interviews of the trip. This is an excerpt from Drew Philip's story: https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2017/sep/19/in-search-of-the-american-man-hitchhiking-masculinity.
"When you’re a truck driver, you miss more than what you’d ever think. I heard about my son’s first steps over the phone". David Linze.
David was a truck driver for 16 years, but he had vowed to never step in a truck again. Being away for so many years ruined his marriage. “Time off isn’t counted by the days and the weekends,” he said. “It’s in hours.”
At the moment, he was staying in the hotel a few miles from his home while he and his wife took some time apart – a separation caused, David said, by his job’s demanding schedule. Scraping a buck knife his father had given him along a sharpening stone – something he did when deep in his own head – he summarized his thoughts.
“What I’m looking at right now is a metaphor for my entire life. Just over that bridge,” he pointed to the highway overpass, “lies my family, you know, where they’re laying their heads down. And in between us was the job that took me away from them for so long.”
“This is it now,” he said gesturing to the camp chairs and the beer cans and the fluorescent light, and the nondescript beige everything of the motel. “It’s not anyone’s fault but my own. That’s part of our journey, isn’t it? Finding ways to accept responsibility and not pass it off.”
“When you’re an over the road truck driver, you miss more than what you’d ever think. Birthday parties. You miss the significant things in your children’s lives, and your wives’ lives. They’re doing 99% of the raising, and you get to hear about it on the telephone,” he said, scraping the knife. “I heard about my son’s first steps over the phone. My daughter’s seventh birthday, for whatever reason that sticks out. I missed it.”
“It was too much for me when I came back and I saw the devastation I’d wreaked. It was overwhelming. I stepped out of a truck in August and never got back in. I didn’t have any desire to. When you come home and look at those wrecked faces, it’s hard. It’s devastating, as a man, as a person who believes in taking care of your family first.”
He said it was all summed up by a country song, The Dollar by Jamey Johnson. Country music, a genre often derided as being low class, tends to feature strong men talking about their emotions. It is something of a cultural rarity.
The song tells the heartbreaking story of a son who asks his mother where his father goes all day and why. She tells him it’s for work, because he must get paid. After thinking for a moment, the son runs upstairs and returns with a quarter and four dimes.
He asks: “Momma, how much time will this buy me?”