Back in elementary school I wanted to be a truck driver. I lived by I-57 on the south side of Chicago and would watch the trucks go by in long convoys. Both Convoy the movie and the song were big hits featuring really cool trucks. Growing up we did a lot of road trips and my dad let me talk on his CB so I learned a bit of the truckers lingo “What is your 10-20?” meant “what is your location?” and was very useful if you were stuck in a traffic jam because if a trucker was ahead of you, they could tell you what was going on and how long you’d be sitting in traffic. “10-4” meant ‘I heard you” and “bears” referred to the police which was also a very useful thing to know.
My dad’s handle was “Tipacanoe” and mine was “Rubber Duck.” In the CB world a handle is like a screen name; it kept you anonymous but someone could reach out to you if they wanted. Getting paid to drive the open road and talk on the CB seemed like a good gig to me. You could go it alone but call for help to any of the nice, friendly truck drivers when needed.
When I was in 8th grade we moved from Chicago, Il to Chapel Hill, NC. My predominantly Polish, Catholic neighborhood who rooted for the Chicago White Sox and drank pop gave way to Protestants with Southern accents who rooted for the UNC Tar Heels and drank iced tea.
Growing up I didn’t think of the people in Chicago as rude but they certainly were not as friendly as the people in NC. They were also not nearly as sophisticated. In my K-8 school we walked in lines between classes and had assigned seating at lunch time. This could quite possibly be the intense Catholic influence – I may very well have been the only Protestant at the entire school. At Phillips Junior High we were allowed to walk to class on our own and eat with our friends. The irony is that the Chapel Hill folks my age also cursed a lot more. One might think that a young girl listening to truckers talk on the CB would be well acquainted with the many uses of various curse words but the truckers had nothing on my middle school girl friends.
In hindsight I’m glad I did not become a trucker but every once in a while when the moon is full and the sky is clear, the dream of an open road calls to me. I imagine myself with the windows down, the radio playing, and driving on an empty road going to nowhere in particular. Only in the new version instead of a driving a semi, I’m now driving a Tesla Roadster. I guess deep down I don’t really want to be a trucker after all.