I appreciate and value my privacy. From the 1800’s privacy has been understood as a state of freedom from intrusion. I like being free from intrusion, especially when it comes to the things of my body.
As a child I spent a great deal of time in hospitals as a result of an odd childhood malady. I was used to having my body poked and prodded by people I did not know. I was used to having my privacy intruded upon. I became pretty open about privacy issues, and my boundaries were rather soft. Or, so I thought. On the truck, I pretty quickly realized that I was more straitlaced than I had imagined and that my boundaries were more firm than I had thought. I also pretty quickly realized that I was going to have to get over it, if I was going to share life with someone in a tiny cab on a big rig. In such close quarters invasion of privacy is a given, even when both people are trying to be sensitive to each other’s needs.
When I first bounded up the metal steps of the truck and into the cab, the man who was my friend, and who would become my trainer and co-driver tried to put me at ease in all kinds of ways. I think he was doing this for his own benefit as well, because I later learned, that having someone on the truck with him was an invasion of his privacy as well. He had never driven ‘team.’ He, like many truckers, preferred being by himself even though there was more money to be made driving ‘team.’
One of the first issues to be dealt with for me had to do with bodily processes. When I noticed there was no bathroom on the truck, I gingerly asked about what this might mean. I am a tea drinker, after all, and I wasn’t sure how I could drink tea all day if there was not a bathroom nearby! He very kindly and discreetly said, “When you need to use the bathroom, just tell me, and I’ll stop at the next truck stop.” Ok. Good deal. And that’s what we did for several weeks.
Finally, one day he said, “We need to talk about something. I make money on this truck by getting loads delivered on time. Every time we stop at the truck stop for you to go to the bathroom, it takes 45 minutes out of our driving time.” (Note: It wasn’t taking me 45 minutes in the bathroom! It takes that long to maneuver a truck into the truck stop and through the truck traffic where the trucks are parked. Once a parking place is finally found, the truck has to be backed into it. Then it’s into the truck stop for a quick bathroom break, after which everything is reversed and the truck has to be maneuvered through all the traffic again and back onto the highway.) He continued, “If we stop 7 or 8 times a day, we are losing nearly 8 hours of driving time!” I saw his point. I would need to modify my drinking or relieve myself in a bottle!
So here’s the life lesson I learned:
Prudery and squeamishness just don’t matter as much as I thought they did.
Off the truck, this has played itself out in my life in two ways:
First, I’ve come to see that bodies are just that – bodies. They make noises, they get weary, they have dry skin, they have tender spots, they ache, they get sick, they are beautiful and they are miraculous. For years, I have obsessed about my body and its lack of perfection mainly from prudery and squeamishness. Learning to feel comfortable about my body and its processes helped me move away from prudery and squeamishness and move toward wonder.
Second, I don’t have to have perfect privacy in order to preserve my own boundaries. Boundaries are important for self-protection, but on the truck, I came to see that there was no reason to assume that an unintended breach of privacy was some sort of manipulative ploy. It was nothing more than an unintended breach. This was a huge learning for me. Because of it I am now better able to negotiate boundaries and breaches in other areas of my life.
So, living with someone in that tiny truck cab was, most definitely, an invasion of privacy. But, more importantly, it was the means through which I learned to love and experience wonder for the miracle of my body, and it helped me learn how and when to make boundaries more porous.
Now, prudery and squeamishness just don’t matter to me as much as I thought they did.
Starbuck's and tears. Not my own, but the person across from me.
It was a busy, urban Starbuck's in the heart of Mexico ...<< MORE >>