It's tough to drive all night. Driving all day's okay, but all night is a grind. You're peering off into a dark highway with a corridor of light from your headlights showing you constantly refreshing blacktop appearing over and over and over through the windshield. I think that's what kills you, really. Having to endlessly reassess just what the fuck the road is doing in front of you 'cause you can't get the longview of it. We feel comfortable when we can take in a whole vista and plan our route points through it. Pick out what's safe and what's dangerous, slow down or speed up or just plain ol' stop if nothing makes sense up ahead. But in the dark, with that spray of white fanned out just in front of us, shit, there could be a goddamned hurricane floating around out there and you wouldn't know until the bastard picked you up and threw your ass halfway to Oz.

I'm figuring it's about how we're wired, y'know? We're daylight creatures, whatever the opposite of nocturnal is. Our eyes work great in daylight, like shit in the dark. So we just learned to go to sleep when the big yellow lightbulb in the sky sank into the ground every night. Smart, right? Sure, super smart. Good work, God.

And then Edison goes and fucks up nighttime for everyone by making it easy to light up the night like a weak-ass daytime. Okay, sure, there were lights before that – firelight, torchlight, gaslight – but not any kind of really portable light, right? I mean, sure, you could walk around with a torch or a lantern, but that only gave you light in a little circle directly around yourself. They couldn't throw light worth a tinker's damn. You went traipsing through the woods with a lantern and whatever you were looking for would see you coming a mile away and scamper off. Or, y'know, shoot you with an arrow, if it was that kind of thing.

So, yeah, for the vast majority of humanity's time on the planet we did the majority of our work between sunup and sundown and then had weak little firelights to screw around with after the chores were done. Of course, the screwing around time after the chores were done was pretty damned short 'cause you had to be up at dawn to get on with tomorrow's chores and, let's face it, today's chores just about wiped you out. So, yeah, figure that you'd light whatever little lights you had for dinner and then maybe a little light reading from the Bible or some charades with the family and then everybody into bed and sawing wood by like eight o'clock. Very healthy, very happy. Or, well, okay, with all the diseases floating around in ye olden times and the grind of subsistence-level farming and getting overtaxed and some wandering army stealing all your crops and killing all your animals when they stumbled across you, not so very much healthy or happy, but, y'know, at least you were working with your circadian rhythms and your body was in harmony with the sun. Probably in the process of getting ravaged by smallpox and syphilis as well, but, y'know, getting enough sleep.

But again with Edison, once humanity figured out that you could light up the dark pretty easily they didn't see any real reason to not do it. And once you extended your day by hours and hours, we started looking for something to fill up all that empty time. And, damned Edison, we ended up with the phonograph and moving pictures, vaudeville got arc lamps to pick out the jugglers and comedians on the stage, the wireless turned into radio and electricity to every home brought us seemingly endless entertainment and we suddenly found ourselves, collectively, with so much shit to do every night that we stayed up later and later, and that eight o'clock bedtime went right out the window. Television came onto the scene and we stayed up later, 'cause we were already at home, so why not stay up to watch the 11 o'clock news? And, hell, so long as you're up, why not watch the Tonight Show at 11:30? Shit, since the world is running on its own time by now, you don't have to be in the office until 9:00, right? Which means that you can crash at midnight or one, get some zzz's in, wake up at 8:00 and still have time for a shave and breakfast before you zip downtown in your shiny new car.

Except, of course, you've gotta be seriously whitecollar to be in at nine a.m. We bluecollar schmoes are clocking in at six or seven and working our eight hours at a drill press or an assembly line or behind the wheel of some kind of transport vehicle. But, y'know, all that fun late-night stuff is still out there, movies and clubs and bars and that old perennial television, so, hell, we don't want to go to bed early, right?

And, man, in your 20's, do you really need to go to bed early? Hell's no. Youthful stamina lets you get by on five, six hours. Two or three if there's a really good party that you don't want to leave. And you get used to that, start thinking that sleep is actually kind of optional, and that if you need to skip a night or two, sure, that's not a problem. Of course, if you discover the wonderment of speed, then, really, sleep stops even being optional and staying up for a few days at a time is pretty much mandatory. And that's all totally cool, really. You know why? Because we beat the sun, motherfucker. Yeah, truly, the sun has stopped dictating when we're sleeping and when we're a'waking. Because we can make our own light, and we can keep working and partying and watching tv until someone flips a switch and tells us it's time to fucking go to bed.

But the night driving, we can't beat that. Oh, sure, if you're on some nicely kept up superhighway with giant orange sodium-arc lamps lighting up every inch of tarmac, you're doing just fine. You've got that easy route right in front of you and you can just track along it with one finger on the seek button of the radio and another twitching the wheel when you come to a curve in the road. But if, like me, you find yourself on some rural Ohio backroad somewhere near the Kentucky border and the moon is waning to the new and you can just about make out the ditch to the side of the lane and the faded white line to the other, shit, man, it's an endurance test right up there with the Boston Marathon and the Tour de France.

Let me catch you up here, fast-forward you through my day. Okay, so, sure Bobby's dad shows up with that pretty blue BMW and fresh maps for Pennsylvania and Ohio. Sweet guy, really. And the job's starting to look okay, really. Youngstown is just over the border from Pennsylvania so it's a drive, but it's straight, it's less than a day and I'm looking to have the package in the right hands by mid-afternoon and crashed out in the cheapest hotel shortly thereafter.


Okay, so the address in Youngstown, it turns out, doesn't actually exist. The base gets ahold of the customer, the customer apologizes, says that they meant to say Akron, not Youngstown. Okay, sure, whatever. Honest mistake, right? I mean, c'mon, they may not sound alike, but they're both in the same state, right? Sure, sure. But, what the fuck, Akron's only an hour or so up the road. It's about 2:30, I've got plenty of time.

Except that base calls me up when I'm about halfway there to let me know that Akron's wrong, too, and that what they meant to say was Columbus. Ah, well, that's different, isn't it?

'Cause Columbus is another couple hours south, which means that I'm bumping into office staff quitting time, and I'd rather not find myself stuck in the middle of Ohio rattling the doors of a locked office building and thinking about going back to Connecticut with a loaded shotgun and a stick up my ass.

But, okay, okay, the base, they beg, they threaten, they mention the money, again, and I start calculating what 24 hours worth of this gig is gonna be worth. And I go for it. Really, this isn't the weirdest thing I've ever done, not by a long shot. Although it's about the strangest delivery I've yet to deal with.

(Fuck it. It's midnight and I'm bushed. Pick it up tomorrow. Have fun, y'all)


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