It’s been awhile.

FeelingsI fear I’ve lost it. I’m not sure when. I’m not sure how, but as I sit here today—and really the last several months—its occurred to me that there’s nothing left. This is difficult for me to even think, let alone say.

When I was little my parents went through what they went through and in turn as a 6 to 7-year-old, I went through what I thought was the worst thing a child could go through. Surviving that ordeal is, well, still is a process. Having the rug of a normal life pulled out from under me, it was a life goal to be what I thought was normal. I wanted nothing less than to have the perfect life, the perfect wife, the perfect kids and the perfect little house with the white picket fence. Odd for a guy to think that way maybe, but its the way it was, nonetheless.

I’ve always considered myself a very loving and caring person; nurturing, thoughtful. If you ask me I’ll swear I’ve always put everyone else first. In my life, I can remember putting myself first in only one instance. Lets just say that turned out horribly. Not because I put myself first but because I was blind and stupid (but that’s another story). Bottom line is I have always cared about others more than I cared about myself. I always have had so much love to give and with the lack of confidence in my physical appearance, I’ve always tried to be creative in the romance department.

One example of this is the way in which I proposed to my ex wife. I surprised her with a very public proposal on a sign in the middle of town, had the flowers and ring and all that you could think of that goes with the occasion. Over the years there have been many times I’ve went the extra mile to make moments with significant others very—no, extremely romantic. I’ve never been one to use anyone. I’ve never been the type of person looking for the quick, easy, good time. I’ve seen this many times with others, and to be honest, it always made me ill to see guys using women.

I’ve always been honest. If it wasn’t a long-term relationship I was looking for, I stated that up front. If it was an issue, then nothing else moved forward and there was no issue at all. I hold no grudges. I never pressured or got upset. For the most part I’ve always been too shy to be aggressive. I guess you could say I’ve always considered myself the hopeless romantic.

For some time now I’ve been in a funk of sorts. It’s the best I can describe it. With all that I’ve been through the last few years, its a wonder I still have any of my faculties left. With kids having kids they cant afford, a daughter who can’t ever seem to get her life going in the right direction, a father I never talk to, a job I hate, an ex that is nothing short of a black hole for money—I could keep going but I think my point.

With all this and more, I am nearly convinced that I’ve lost it. It being the operative word here. And it being the ability to care, to have feelings about anything. or anyone, the ability or maybe a better word is the willingness, to let anything or anyone get inside my mind, or worse yet, my heart. I’ve not ever had the empty feeling I have right now—empty and dark, closed to anything or anyone, outside of my own mind; even to the point where all I can stand anymore is to lock myself away in my truck and seclude myself from the outside world. Netflix has become the most important thing to me.

As sad as that is, I have no desire to talk to anyone. I have no desire to be around anyone. In fact, its so deep I get depressed more on the day I know I’m coming home than I am the day I am leaving out. I never thought I would get that way.

I used to enjoy conversation. I used to enjoy talking for hours. I used to love the fact that someone on the other end of the phone line was missing me. Now I really don’t care. I have a few close friends I could talk to. I have maybe one or two I could call right now or anytime and they would be happy to hear from me—at least I think they would. What I’m missing is the desire, the need. And honestly it’s nothing to do with them, it has nothing to do with anyone but me.

I don’t know when I became this way, or the reasons why. I’m not sure if I will ever know. What concerns me the most is will it ever end. What will it take for me to care again, to care at all about anything?


Mike-Michael Collard is one of my life-long friends. We cruised many back roads in his vintage ‘70 Mustang “back in the day.” Professionally, he has driven a truck over-the-road for as long as I can remember. Too many long roads have given him time to overthink everything and hone his outspoken, independent, hell-bent attitude. With a little coaxing I convinced him to share some of his writing with me to publish here. When not on the road, he spends a lot of weekends spoiling his seven grandkids.

Childhood and cookie jars.

CookieJarOver the course of the past 24 plus years I have learned thru experience that parenting is a daily struggle. It’s a welcome struggle, not a burden. Because we all chose to bring our children into this world, we can’t say they are a burden. Well, most of us can’t.

We all have our own stories, as both parents and children. I’m positive there are no perfect parents and I’m also sure no one has ever had the perfect childhood. Physical abuse, mental abuse, divorce, abandonment, deadbeat parents, and endless other situations can both define our roles as children and parents.

As a child I know I definitely didn’t have the best of times. My childhood was defined by one sound I will never forget—one big crash. The sound of a plaster-casted cookie jar hitting the wall at a very high rate of speed is one I will never forget. I can even remember what it looked like. It was a woven basket, the lid had two acorns on top for a handle. It didn’t fare too well against the wall, nor did the rest of my childhood.

My parent’s divorced in the 80’s before divorce became “fashionable.” Divorce was the exception, not the norm. I was only 7-years-old, my sister 10. My 7-year-old mind never quite understood why my parents split. As a child, it was way above my head.

As an adult, I have had many conversations with my mother. Looking back over the years I spent with my father, I’ve realized the rhymes and reasons for the dissolution of my “happy” family. Yes, I said, “years I spent with my father.” Back then (and now) it was unusual for fathers to gain custody of their kids. With that said, my mother was the best mother I could have ever asked for. She was loving, caring, tender and attentive—everything a good mother is supposed to be.

My father, however, was so much more than I ever thought he was, and not in a good way. When I was a young boy he was my world. He would do all the right things a good father should do. I know he loved my sister and me, but because he used us as pawns in a divorce, he was a horrible father. He took advantage of two very naïve and scared little kids. He used a pack of lies and half-truths to fight and take us away from our mother.

He emptied the bank accounts and left my mother with nothing. Without money she couldn’t fight him. We knew only what our father told us.

He scared the devil out of us when the judge took my sister and I into his chambers. We both told the judge we wanted to live with our father. It is a choice no child should ever have to make—ever. I have regretted this for many years.

After our father was awarded custody of us, we packed up and moved to Carmi, Illinois. We left our school, our home and most of all, our mother. I adapted rather quickly to the routine of my new life, but never really settled in. My sister, however, did not. By the time she was 12 or 13 she had moved back to be our mother. I honestly believe my father thought that if he took us away from our mother she would see things his way and come back. Of course she didn’t. And I am so glad.

My father is selfish and self-centered—a classic narcissist. It took me longer than I wish it had to figure out my father never did anything that didn’t benefit him in some way. My father used my sister and I as bait. When the bait didn’t produce any bites for him, he had no use for me. It’s too obvious to me now, and the pain still surfaces quite often.

The pain shows in the way our relationship has gone over the last 30+ years—the relationship he doesn’t have with me, my children, or even my grand children. It is astounding how unconnected he can be. We sometimes go months without communicating and when we do it is short and impersonal. It’s like I’m just another generic member of a group text.

The upside is that my mother and I are closer than we have ever been. She is my rock and my world, and her husband, my stepfather, has been more of a father than my biological one ever though of being.

I wish I could turn back time and tell the judge I wanted to live with my mother. But, I can’t. The one lesson I did learn from my father was how not to be a bad father. He showed me exactly what I didn’t want to be. Through my own divorce, my kids were the top priority. I have readily sacrificed and will continue to sacrifice to give them every ounce of happiness I can give them. I don’t know if I succeeded. And I’m sure they both have good and bad stories of their childhood. But, I know I can lay down ever night in my bed and be confident that I always put their needs first.

My kids were conceived when I was very young. I have tried from day one to give them my best because they deserve nothing less. They have never been a burden. Sure they have tested my patience to almost the breaking point and pushed every one of my buttons and they’ve taken advantage of me, but that’s OK. They have given me years and years of happiness. They have hugged me. They have spent time with me when they would have rather been with their friends. They call me—a lot. They trust me. They have put their own children’s lives in my hands without hesitation. Most of all, they have loved me unconditionally, and me them.

My children, a burden? No way.


Mike-Michael Collard is one of my life-long friends. We cruised many back roads in his vintage ‘70 Mustang “back in the day.” Professionally, he has driven a truck over-the-road for as long as I can remember. Too many long roads have given him time to overthink everything and hone his outspoken, independent, hell-bent attitude. With a little coaxing I convinced him to share some of his writing with me to publish here. When not on the road he spends a lot of weekends spoiling his six grandkids and anxiously awaiting the arrival of the seventh.

 

Almost over, over.

Seven minutes shy of a life.
Time that matters most.
Will they weap his passing?
Will He welcome his soul?
Nothing left to say,
nothing left to do.,
hear the reaper knockin.
The saying is dead man walkin’,
dead man walkin’.
Guilty of his deeds,
no way to change his story,
beggin’ for forgiveness.
What good is it doing?
Nothing saves a dead man walkin’,
dead man walkin’
The chains burden every step,
small price to pay for a lost soul.
Beating blackened heart soon to cease,
dead man walkin’,
dead man walkin’.
Two minutes shy of a life,
strapped in for a short ride.
The needle rips a hole,
grains of time faded to black.
Nothing left but the darkness,
nothing left but the tingles,
finding the light.
No sorrow due for this dead man walkin’,
dead man walkin’,
dead man wakin’.
Justice is served,
dead man,
dead man.


Mike-Michael Collard is one of my life-long friends. We cruised many back roads in his vintage ‘70 Mustang “back in the day.” Professionally, he has driven a truck over-the-road for as long as I can remember. Too many long roads have given him time to overthink everything and hone his outspoken, independent, hell-bent attitude. With a little coaxing I convinced him to share some of his writing with me to publish here. When not on the road he spends a lot of weekends spoiling his six grandkids and anxiously awaiting the arrival of the seventh.

Safety first.

MovingTruck

I spend the majority of my time driving down the highway and byways of our beautiful county. I have seen almost everything imaginable and unimaginable. I have also seen a lot I wish I hadn’t. I have logged more than 2 million miles in my professional career. I have been very lucky. Lucky in that I have never had the misfortune of being involved in a major accident. I have been rear ended a few times and had a few minor fender benders that could have turned out much worse. Thank God none were pinned to me or my driving record.

Because of my clean driving record I have received bonuses over the years for 1.5 million safe miles behind the wheel. I would have received my 2 million mile bonus had I not quit and taken some time off last year. More than the bonuses for safe driving, I take pride in the fact I have never been in a major accident or caused one while driving professionally.

The men who trained me gave so much good advice and instructions that have stuck with me through the years. These guys were veteran drivers with many, many years of experience. I put their wisdom to work every time I climb into the driver’s seat.

I was lucky to learn how to drive in the dead of winter. My first trip out with my first train was the first week of January with snow and ice in the forecast. It gave me confidence knowing the guy was right there beside me to guide me and share his knowledge. (A huge shout out to “Popeye” and “Billy.”)

I have been through every major city east of the Mississippi and several west of it. I’ve been in every state east of the Mississippi and at least ten on the other side. I have drove through metropolitan areas with 16 lanes of traffic. I have been down roads barely wide enough for my truck, let alone anyone coming the other direction. I have been down a few gravel roads that made me wonder if I was going to make it to my destination or not.

No matter what type of road or where it was I have had the displeasure of seeing traffic accidents and other horrible traffic related events. I witnessed the aftermath of a suicide jumper from an overpass in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. The distraught woman jumped into one of the busiest stretches of interstate in North American. Also in Toronto, I dodged actual body parts from a wreck before emergency vehicles arrived on the scene. In Nashville, Tennessee I witnessed a van hydroplane directly in front of me and slam the center wall. After the accident I couldn’t determine if the victim was a man or women. In Indianapolis, Indiana I watched a car traveling the opposite directed slam the center wall at a high rate of speed. The male driver was ejected from the vehicle into the traffic lanes on the other side. I have had to come to terms with a fellow company driver who was killed in a horrific crash. Fire consumed his entire body, leaving nothing but a boot. I could go on and on about the tragedies I have witnessed.

The highways are not a safe place to be on a daily basis. Between the speed junkies, hell bent on getting to their destinations without any regard for their fellow commuters or themselves, worn out truck drivers being pushed beyond their limits by their dispatchers to the drivers that drive too slow for the flow of traffic (yes, not moving with the flow of traffic is very dangerous) the road is a not a safe place to be.

I read an article that claimed there are about 2 million trucks on America’s highways. That means at least 2 millions drivers as well. I know that we, as a group of hard working individuals shrank by at least one this week. I know because I sat for over an hour in a traffic back up in Ohio due to a horrific accident that took the life of a fellow professional driver. Sigh.

No matter how many of us there are, no matter if we knew this driver personally or not, it hurts. We have a casual brotherhood between us. Of course there are the exceptions to the rule that don’t care about anything except getting down the road uninterrupted or care about the loss. Even I was guilty about being upset about the delay until I found out the reason.

As I pulled up to the scene it really hit home. This was the loss of a human life. It was the loss of a “brother”, father, son, uncle or nephew. It was the loss of a friend. It made me wonder what he was thinking about just minutes before it happened. Was he able to tell his family he loved them? It made me think about the last time I told my own family I loved them.

Driving past the accident scene brought so many questions to mind about my own life. It is never easy to witness a scene like that. It sure makes it hard to climb up the steps of my truck every day. Some say truck driving is the most dangerous profession. A friend said by the amount of miles I drive up and down the highways the odds are definitely against me and all other drivers.

Even if you don’t drive professionally, please be careful on the road. Put down your phone and pay attention. Wait to put on makeup. Always keep your eyes on the road, not on your iPod or laptop. Buy the audiobook. If you don’t want to be responsible behind the wheel, I hope you have told all your family you love them because you never think it is your time until it is too late.


Mike-Michael Collard is one of my life-long friends. We cruised many back roads in his vintage ‘70 Mustang “back in the day.” Professionally, he has driven a truck over-the-road for as long as I can remember. Too many long roads have given him time to overthink everything and hone his outspoken, independent, hell-bent attitude. With a little coaxing I convinced him to share some of his writing with me to publish here. When not on the road he spends a lot of weekends spoiling his six grandkids and anxiously awaiting the arrival of the seventh.

A hundred dollars.

100

As Julie stated in what I consider my awesome bio, I’ve driven professionally for quite some time—actually going on 16 years. At one point I was dedicated on a route that took me from Mount Vernon, Indiana to a small town in Ontario, Canada. Cobourg is a small town located about 60 miles east of Toronto, Ontario. This “run” as we in the business call our trips, was a great run. The pay was very good and the fact I was dedicated made it comparable to what most people do who do not drive across the country for a profession. In other words it was like normal shift work; a 9 to 5 if you will.

I spent almost 10 years doing this run. Being the type of person I am, I loved the same ole, same ole. I knew exactly where I would be and what time I would be there. I could keep my life at home in motion without too much deviation from a schedule. I even managed to help with my son’s little league experience when he was young. Although if you ask him or most kids who have their parents actually involved, I’m not sure that was a plus—but that’s another story for another day.

As the years went on though, things started to wear on my mind. Anyone who has spent that much time doing the exact same thing over and over can understand what I’m saying. It got to where I would swear to anyone who would listen that I began seeing myself going the opposite direction. No, I wasn’t losing my mind. Well, that’s debatable.

I was getting bored. The beloved same ole, same ole became the same old blankety blank bulls**t. What didn’t help, was at this same time personally I was going through one of the relationships that I wrote about in my first post sent to Julie. (By the way, I must say, Julie is a wonderful person, and I’m not sure, but she may have started something with all this writing.) Going through the bad, ending a relationship and feeling the pressure of becoming a grandfather, again, and getting very, very, very, bored with my run, I went to my company and begged to be taken off and allowed to explore other avenues and lanes that they were working.

Of course with their bottom-line being the foremost important thing in mind, they said absolutely no. And I can’t blame them. My two loads a week meant a substantial amount of money and trouble for them to replace if I was removed from the contract. So with all this pressure and stress I actually quit. I cleaned out my truck, put all my belongings in my pick-up and left. I had saved enough cash so I could just take a break— take a much needed, 4 month break from the normal go to work, do the responsible thing, daily grind.

To this day and for the rest of my life I will swear it was the best thing I have ever done for myself. During those four months I began to improve myself in many ways. I started eating normal, healthy meals every day. I walked up to 4 miles a day—every day. I found a social life I had left behind many years before. I just became the person I had always wanted to be except (there’s always an exception, right?) for my mentality towards humanity.

Dealing with jerks and assholes on the road over the years had eroded my faith in man to near extinction. I have always thought of myself as a compassionate person, sometimes too sensitive. But because of my years of experience dealing with jerks and assholes on the road, I had become calloused to mankind.

I have always considered myself a compassionate person. I am sometimes sensitive to a fault, but nothing like I was about to become.

As I neared four months off the road, I figured it was time to try to find some gainful employment. But thanks to some close friends who have wonderful relatives, I secured a job with a bus company. I could have changed career paths, but I chose to drive. I love to drive. My “office” view changes minute-to-minute, day-to-day.

An event while with this company opened my eyes again to the humanity that is mankind—what is good with mankind.

The company I worked for was basically public transportation. I would take anybody, anywhere. The company was mainly government subsidized, but it was also a for profit company. The company contracted with several group homes for the handicapped and the places where these wonderful residents go to work every day.

I urge anyone to spend time with these very special people—make time to do so—volunteer, take a job with them or just go visit them at their homes or jobs. It will enlighten your life.

Although I was technically just their driver, I was also their friend, caregiver, security and a symbol of normalcy and regularity for them. And they were my friends too. I have hundreds of funny and sad stories I could tell, but this one will stay with me forever. This story changed me for the better.

One Friday afternoon I was on my route picking up clients (I always hated that term for them) from work, taking them home for the day. Normally quiet “Suzy” was bouncing around the bus with excitement. She was always cordial, saying “Hi” and “How was your day”, but today she was happier than a 6 year old walking thru the gates at Disney World.

I would guess Suzy to be in her mid-twenties, no physical disabilities, but was probably mentally equivalent to a 10-12 year old. I casually asked Suzy what all the excitement was about.

She told me today, Friday, was her payday and I jokingly asked her if she would be buying my dinner tonight. She very jovially stated that this week her paycheck was all hers. She continued to tell me how she had been saving for months to get $100 so she could start her very first checking account.

Suzy and her friends in these group homes go to work every day just like you and me, yet they make pennies on the dollar compared to our paychecks. Her joy at just $100 unnerved me. It made me think about my own checking account I have had since I was 16. It made me think about all the money I have spent over the years on useless, unnecessary things. Her simple joy about $100 helped me realize what is really important in my own life.

Through my own life I have had epic highs and heartbreaking lows. I have worried about things I could never change and other things that don’t ever pertain to me. Yet, I have always made an above average salary and been able to buy whatever I wanted (within reason.) I have put too much emphasis on the material things in life—we all have. The problems and joys of life should not be based on the almighty dollar, or lack of.

How many times have we all cried, worried and been distraught over just the material things (or lack of) in our lives? How many times have we been excited, elated, because we finally saved a simple $100 over many months? Perspective. Sigh.


Mike-Michael Collard is one of my life-long friends. We cruised many back roads in his vintage ‘70 Mustang “back in the day.” Professionally, he has driven a truck over-the-road for as long as I can remember. Too many long roads have given him time to overthink everything and hone his outspoken, independent, hell-bent attitude. With a little coaxing I convinced him to share some of his writing with me to publish here. When not on the road he spends a lot of weekends spoiling his six grandkids and anxiously awaiting the arrival of the seventh.

 

Alone?

Silhouette

Feeling alone even in a crowded room. What exactly does that mean? I often wonder just how many people feel the same way?

Most of the time it doesn’t matter who I’m with, but to feel that way amongst the supposed most important person in my life, it really does make me think. At one time there was such a connection with this person that no one could sever that link.

Now after all these years, it’s difficult for me to even want to feel it. I’m not sure it’s ever going to be allowed to make any impression on me at all. It’s hard for me to admit. And I know this phrase is hated by many‑“it is what it is,” but “it is what it is.”

Thru my life I’ve been in and out of relationships. Most were started with the mindset that there was no way it was ever going to last—a mutual feeling shared by myself and the other person involved. But some were started with forever in mind. Some of the most thoughts and memories I revisit are of the relationships I thought would really last—the ones I really wanted to last. Isn’t that what most single/its complicated people do? For whatever reason each one ran their respected courses and ended in a heap of sadness and pain. I could go into each one, but then again I really do not want to relive the mistakes and stupidity of why they ended.

If I was being honest with myself I probably would admit half were started under stressful situations and obviously those types of beginnings never last. Rushing and starting in the middle is a stupid way to begin a healthy relationship.

The other half being started the so-called correct way were, just not meant to be. This is more than likely a cop-out excuse. Hell, I don’t know, maybe I’m just too set in my ways and I’m supposed to be single and alone. This brings me back to my original point—feeling alone even in a crowded room. It’s a cliche’, but it’s also a true definitive statement.

Most of the time I get lost in my own head. It seems over the years I believe I’m the smartest person in the room—obviously I’m not. But as hard as I try to realize that, I always come to the same conclusion.

Maybe it’s because other people bore me. Maybe it’s because other people are too set in their ways and set with their ideas and just tend to not make sense to me. Either way it’s a problem for me; I understand that. Even with that understanding, I don’t really care. Being in the “it’s complicated” relationship I’m in with that one person I once thought I couldn’t be separated from, I’m still bored. Things still don’t make sense to me. And the worst thing is I still don’t care. This causes me to get lost in my own head and stay there. I’m not sure my own head is a healthy place to be, but I go there most times and force myself to stay.

I often wonder if it’s a safe place to be. But saying that, I could be asking myself if my mind is dangerous. It’s a constant struggle to separate the good thoughts from the bad ones. And let’s face it, the bad thoughts are the ones that tend to torture us, right? The battle of good over evil; evil over good; but even the bad or evil thoughts are easier for me to deal with than the actual person sitting across the room from me. That’s not how it’s supposed to be, is it? No need to answer, I know the answer and I know exactly what happens.

I hope no one else is like this. But I would be pretty naive to think I’m the only one who thinks this way or puts themselves into this internal seclusion.

Feeling alone even in a crowded room. This is my definition and my struggle.


Mike-Michael Collard is one of my life-long friends. We cruised many back roads in his vintage ‘70 Mustang “back in the day.” Professionally, he has driven a truck over-the-road for as long as I can remember. Too many long roads have given him time to overthink everything and hone his outspoken, independent, hell-bent attitude. With a little coaxing I convinced him to share some of his writing with me to publish here. When not on the road he spends a lot of weekends spoiling his six grandkids and anxiously awaiting the arrival of the seventh.