Book Review: The Long Haul

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Kind of a relatable book but not even close to relatable because my father-in-law drives a car hauler. According to author Finn Murphy’s intro, these specialists are known as “parking lot attendants,” which my FIL quickly informed me was “old school CB talk.”

Throughout the book, Murphy (call name U-Turn) repeatedly informs us of his ability to pick and choose jobs and that he’s a big fish in the industry. Which is fine, just tooting his own horn a bit (pun intended), but he’s earned it. Over 30 years in the business, it’s nice to be your own boss.

He’s a Connecticut native, raised in Cos Cob, a fairly wealthy suburb in Fairfield County, but his decision to become a truck driver was his own. He attended Colby College for three years before informing his parents he was dropping out to be a truck driver, which went over like a fart in church. Regardless, he’s well-educated, able to read Chinese, and has an extensive vocabulary, so that whole “mouth like a truck driver” nonsense is kind of that, nonsense. Don’t get me wrong, he swears plenty, but he’s a well-spoken man.

He’s been up and down the East Coast and across the country on moves. He hand-picks crews to help him prep, load, and unload the truck, sometimes a week-long process. He tells of some easy moves, some terrible ones, and other pretty great tales along the way.

Like the time he was videotaped and documented while executing an entire move.

Or the time he was kind of forced to clean up another movers mess after they just left all the shippers stuff in the driveway, including a treasured baby grand piano that they eventually dropped from the top of an outdoor stairway. (There were tears and hysterical laughter afterwards as the rain began to pour on everyone and thing)

Or the Tuesday when he was finishing up loading a trailer in Boston but was told at 5pm to be in Storrs at 8am the next morning, which meant he’d have to drive to Waterbury (a two-hour drive from Storrs) to get the trailer, back to Storrs to move a widow’s belongings to New Mexico. By Sunday! But on Saturday, the widow’s son called Murphy to tell him his mother had passed away in Kansas but he’d still meet him the next day in New Mexico.

Overall, it’s an insightful look into life on the road as a long-haul trucker, complete with trucker slang (animal transporters are/were known as “chicken chokers”; specialty movers are called “bedbuggers”) and entertaining stories from the road. One thing we don’t find out, however, is why U-Turn gave up driving for a number of years before finally getting back behind the wheel.

One last thing: be nice to your movers. And everyone else for that matter.

Next Book: The Stranger in the Woods: The Extraordinary Story of the Last True Hermit by Michael Finkel

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