It is a known fact that many working journalists actually aspire to be anything but. Usually they fantasize about being best-selling novelists, sitting on their asses, collecting royalty checks and living off the profits of whichever of their works they most recently sold down the river to that great big serial rapist of books we call Hollywood. Yet the reality of the situation is, they’re still journalists and are still stuck wherever it is they would rather not be stuck. This is why so many of them are cranky and have alcohol problems. Eventually, many of them get pissed off, leave journalism and become truck-drivers. And, oddly enough, this is where many of them began.
Before landing their first journalism job, many journalists find they have to drive trucks in order to earn a living. Such famed journalists as David Brinkley, R. Emmett Tyrel, Bob Woodward, George F. Will, and Connie Chung all got their start driving the big rigs. (In fact, Connie met her husband, Maury Povich, on such a haul, back when he was just a bar fly in Tulsa.) You might say that trucking has become something of a rite of passage for the modern American journalist. Take a look at Cokie Roberts’ music collection you’ll no doubt find a CD by C.W. McCall, or at least a Jerry Reed box set. If you were to ask Charlie Rose what his favorite film is, odds are he’d say Every Which Way But Loose. And if you asked William Safire his advice for braking on a downgrade, he’d say, without blinking, that you should intermittently apply all of your service brakes in a way that will reduce the speed of your fully loaded vehicle by about 5 or 6 mph during each application. *
Yes, the journalist/trucker’s life can be a lonely one. All those long hours on the road, dreaming of seeing your by-line in print, and your only company a guy called Edible Steve on Channel 19. And though it does have a certain Keroakian poetry to it, the prospect can be a dismal one to ponder; even for a pre-trucker like myself. For, yes, even though I have a degree in journalism, I have only dabbled in journalism over the years. Oh, sure, I get feature articles published a couple times a year, in a magazine, no less, but a day-by-day grind down at the paper they do not make. Were I to try and break into real journalism, though, I’d have several years of trucking to look forward to before I could even consider getting stuck at some crummy weekly paper, writing stories about how local socialite Old Man Manning and his wife Fanny Maye are having the Preacher over for lunch, Sunday week. After that, I’d have at least a decade to go before I could start developing a taste for vodka laced coffee and amphetamines. Couple more decades after that and I’d be looking to shuck it all to become a truck-driver again.
In the meantime, instead of chronicling the local news, I choose to chronicle some particularly horrible events that have befallen me during my pre-trucker years.
*Maybe it’s time to update my journalist reference examples, as no one younger than 45 has heard of any of these people.