Mark comes down with a virus and is too sick to drive. Bud arranges for a replacement driver to take over for a week while Mark spends some time at his parent’s home getting better.
Mark spends time at his parent’s house and begins to feel better. However, that he needed his parent’s help and a young inexperienced driver replacing him has left Mark feeling a little insignificant.
It only took four days for Mark to completely recover, but it seemed like it had taken forever. His mother had hovered over him constantly during that time, taking his temperature and pumping him full of fluids until it felt like all he was doing was sleeping and going to the bathroom.
Now he was well enough to take a shower, get into his own clothes and watch television in the living room with his father.
“Good to see you up and about,” his father said.
“Feels good too.”
His father leaned over in Mark’s direction. “You know,” he said, almost in a whisper, “if you want me to drive with you as a team for a while, I’m ready to go.”
“You’re not going anywhere,” his mother commanded as she came into the room with a cup of tea in each hand. She gave one to Mark and kept the other for herself. “Not even to go along for the ride.”
“Feh,” his father said, waving a hand in his mother’s direction. “The boy needs help.”
“You need help. He needs to get better.”
“I am better.”
“I’ll be the judge of that.” She put a hand on his forehead. “Two more days,” she proclaimed, then exited the room.
His father shook his head. “Your mother’s just impossible sometimes. I don’t know how I’ve lived with her for so long.”
He knew exactly where his father was coming from because he didn’t know how he had lived with both of them for so long.
Four days had been like an eternity and now that he was feeling better all he could think about was getting out of their house…either back on the road or into a place of his own. “Sometimes I feel that way about my truck.”
“What do you mean?”
“I’ve lived out of it for so long, I think it might be time to get a place…you know, to call home.”
His mother charged back into the room as if propelled by a slingshot.
“Are you going to buy a house?”
“I’ve been thinking about it.”
“That’s wonderful,” she said as if he’d just told them he was getting married or having a baby. “Now don’t go buying anything for the inside of it. We’ve got all kinds of furniture in the basement and I can make whatever curtains or pillows you need.”
“That’s good to know mom, thanks.”
“Don’t get anything in the city,” his father said.
“You’ll need a place to park your truck and if you’re buying a house it doesn’t make sense for you to rent a place for your truck. If you get something out in the country… say, outside Bradford or Stouffville, you’ll be able to park your truck in your driveway and claim a lot of your household expenses on your tax returns.”
Mark nodded, thankful to know there were kernels of wisdom amid all his father’s bluster.
“Thanks, that’s good advice.”
“Just let us know when you want to start looking and we’ll help you find a place.”
Mark stared at his father for the longest time thinking that he’d like to take a look around by himself before he brought his parents into the mix. “Sure,” he said. “I’ll let you know.”
That afternoon Mark called up Bud to find out where Mother Load was and when he could get back on the road.
“Hey Bud, it’s Mark.”
“Hi Mark. How are you?”
Mark was taken aback. No “Mark who?” or anything like that. Just a proper greeting from a friend. Something had to be wrong.
“What happened?” Mark said.
“What do you mean, what happened? Why do you think something happened?”
“C’mon, what is it?”
Bud sighed. “Your truck. Garth had a bit of an accident.”
“Not too bad. It was a fender-bender in a yard in Sherbrooke. Your truck was the only one with any damage and it’s only a few grand to fix.”
Mark said nothing.
“You’re not sore are you?”
A smile broke over Mark’s face. “No. Why would I be angry?”
“Because I made you take on a replacement driver and I found him for you and he ended up banging up your truck wiping out all the money he made for you while you were recovering from your illness. That’s why.”
That was a fair summation of the situation, but it only made Mark laugh.
“What’s so funny?”
“You don’t know what this means, do you?”
“Um, that I need to do a better job screening drivers?”
“No,” Mark said. “It means that I’m not just another truck driver. It means that I, Mark Dalton cannot be replaced by just anybody with a licence. It means that I matter.”
“Oh, yeah, right,” Bud said. “That’s what I was going to say next.”