Jim Trainer

What Seven Hundred Dollars Feels Like

In Uncategorized on February 22, 2018 at 4:30 am

Come round the bend, you know it’s the end…
The Grateful Dead

The present paints the past with gold. The past paints the present with lead.
–Henry Rollins

…My best unbeaten brother
this isn’t all I see…
–Bonnie Prince Billy

Truth is a babbling prisoner you’d rather not kill if they confess…

I hauled 2/3 of a ton of copper from Temple to Austin last Friday, at the tail end of a 13&1/2 hour day and I had to go the whole time. Earlier in the day I strapped 7 10’ job boxes to a 16’ stake bed and drove it down the I35 feeder, in the dark before sunrise, holding my cheeks together. There’s a 711 on the way back to the shop. It’s where I get diesel and coffee and the first chance I get to get it out. It’s as disgusting as you can imagine. Not a good smell coming from the place before you even hit the bathroom. What the fuck am I doing, you ask? Why in God’s name am I up at 4 every day, on the road by 4:40 and heading into the dragon’s mouth of post-industrial America? Why am I working 10, 12 and 13&1/2 hour days, when all I’m guaranteed is a day rate? The answer to that last question is I’m the FNG, the fucking new guy, and any learning is done at my expense. The day rate assures I’ll hustle and even though the guys at the shop were drivers themselves at one time, I still might get sent out to Waco before noon. Driving through north central Texas at anytime is like taking a shit in reverse. Why am I working this gig? For money. I got $4,300 in credit card debt and I’m heading out on the road with Psalmships at the end of March.

The Fall was great and it was a hustle. Frankly, it was exhausting, except for the month of December when I made my nut playing music–and I spent the week between Christmas and New Year’s in bed and lived like a vampire. Both my part time hustles were shut down for the holidays and my temp assignment had ended. So I slept and it was glorious. I don’t regret that week, or the one before, but it put me in a hole and I knew I’d have to work full time to recover. So, the search began. I spent about a week fucking around with a company who just paid me last week after a month and half. I was a P.A. on a Dove commercial and didn’t get paid for 2 months. I found another gig and started there. Worked there for 2&1/2 weeks before the anxiety got to me. It’s well documented. I was in the depths of IBS and the Texas wasteland was harrowing but the worst was the terrible anxiety. When the dayjob starts coming home with you it’s time to quit. Point blank. I work for money. The money to live in this capitalist nightmare and time—the time to sip espresso on a too-small love seat and pseudo listen to pseudo news, even get behind the Selectric some, and design and publish, print and sell my own collections of poetry and prose.

I’m working for E.D. now and it’ll be 19 days before I see my first check. Some days, most I’m hoping, are about 8-8&1/2 hours. I think the average is 9 and sometimes 10, but, for Christ, never 13 or 13&1/2 hours like that nightmare last Friday. The truck was shimmying and my check was shrinking. I was hauling copper and hating life.  I had a couple of days like that this week, too, including Thursday when I considered calling off my monthly gig at House Wine.  The show was typically thankless, but I worked out some new material, including a revamp of “The Winner” and a revisit of “Austin Women”–one of the first songs I wrote when I got down here in the Spring of ’09.  That was a different time, Good Reader, one I think of fondly but only skews the present in rue and casts the future with dread.  I had to hit the head at least 5 times writing this but that ain’t the half of my trouble and worry.  I landed a column and I been waiting to spring the good news on you.  Mostly making sure I’ve enough in the chamber to sustain the thing and finding for a way to set it apart from these demented and myopic annals.

$700 is a deep and bone-aching exhaustion that luckily fades after a couple days laying around and having dinner with a true Friend.  The charge of an awakened being is never to reject the world, that would only be rejecting yourself.  You and I are the world, in all its sparkling and wounded glory.  The Grateful Dead were right and that I see a darkness.  I’m not as young as I was when I left Philly.  So much has changed but nothing really.  I’m sober enough to see and old enough to stop fucking around.  I’m out here on the road for now, hauling freight and squinting in the predawn dark, stoking a sublime hatred for radio and their world.  I’m holding my shit back until the next stop and holding my shit in for most of the day like a good American laborer.  This country is fucked.  I love you.

See you on the East Coast motherfucker.


  1. […] sticker emblazoned above a dangling set of TruckNutz on his black Chevy Silverado.  The Grateful Dead were wrong.  The trouble ain’t with you or me but everything and everyone.  The mounting […]

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