What Keeps the Driver?
Early morning he loads up, Sacramento, five days
Monotonous ride through dust and hills
He’s done this trip before, same time every year
Day one, clear head not much thinking
Day two, hard pressed deadline, things getting in the way
Day three, zoned out, caffeine just hurts his eyes and chest now
It kicks in, that place he’s been before
He thinks, how is he going to get out of this one?
He’s alone, no one to stop him
Freedom but in the worst way
Can’t numb the thoughts this time
Getting tested on delivery
Sober thoughts, lucid nightmares
It’s just a haul
No point, there’s no point, there’s never a point
He could stop, give up, quit
No one will care
He thinks it often
But he never does it
That’s his Dad’s fault
The man never let the boy quit
But Dad’s dead now
So the boy, now a man, won’t quit his haul
He’ll just quit the journey all together
That’s a whole other thing
Day four, pit stops, he looks at the other drivers
Seasoned dogs built into the road, they love it
They see something he doesn’t
They tell him that everyone has to bear their own cargo
And you just got to get it to where it needs to be
It’s that simple
No, it aint
Simple is staring through that glass window at the road
Watching the yellow dashes flash by singing “American Pie”
Going through the plains, seeing flat and saying to yourself
“Boy this is wonderful”
All in the effort to meet some expectations you never set for yourself
But expectations that were set for you
That’s simple, and some can stomach it
But they never really see the road
They never feel the road
Feeling every bump, every crack, every twist
Every doubt, every question, every emotion
Personified by the road
Dragging on eighteen wheels, every burden
The skeleton behind the wheel
The songs that never sound the same
The girl back home who you’ve lost but still have
The birds that tweet along the way but you don’t hear
Is this cabin his life now?
Is this all he’ll ever do?
Is this journey the only one he has left?
The people he meets can’t see the road like he does
It’s simple because they’re simple
They never question
Does the cargo really matter?
Do they really matter?
Or do they really believe
That people are depending on them
Maybe they’re right to think that they have something to give
And in brief moments he thinks it too
He thinks, maybe that’s his purpose
If only he could deliver
And sadly, he returns to the notion
That it isn’t enough
And in those dark nights
On that last stretch, Day five
Road straight, chassis creaking, cabin humming
With one hand low on the wheel
And the other hand hovering over twelve o’clock
Who will notice if he doesn’t get there?
What will keep the driver, driving?