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8:45 pm EDT        64°F (18°C) in Henderson, NC

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I am currently getting my trailer unloaded, after which I will head back over to the Piedmont Triad area (Greensboro/Winston-Salem/High Point) to get the next one bound for Maine. I ended up having to run pretty hard to get up here from Atlanta; it was a mere 21 hours ago that I was getting the rig weighed on the west side of Atlanta.

I figured I'd come back with another part of my "manifesto" series of updates here. I'm not trying to make the rest of my immediate family out to be a bunch of evil monsters, but (a) they do a fair amount of shit that really annoys me, and (b) complaining to them is a waste of time; the only thing that will get accomplished is that I will be told how ungrateful and full of hate I am (which is something that those who know me well will tell you is a load of bullshit). Lately, I have observed on several occasions that I seem to be left out of a lot of things, almost as if I'm some outsider who can't be trusted with the most simple things.

During my last time at home (on April 8), unbeknownst to me, my sister's boyfriend of nearly four years finally popped the big question, as we had all been expecting for a long time, and as I understand it, they are planning to have the wedding in the summer of 2007. One would think that in most families, something of that magnitude would be considered earth-shattering, "stop the presses" news that would immediately be shared with all interested parties, which (to me) ought to include the bride-to-be's older brother.

In any case, the following day (Saturday, April 9), I walked into the living room of their house during a conversation about some preliminary plans for a wedding. It was pretty quickly obvious to me that my mother and sister were talking about a wedding; where else are the words "dress," "reception," and "church" all used in the same context? At a lull in their discussion, I proceeded to ask, "So you're planning a wedding?" The response was a simple yes. "For one of her friends?" I asked, being completely unaware of what had transpired the previous day. I almost had to wrestle the details out of them by asking a ton of questions: when are you planning it? when did this become official? so that small box I saw is her engagement ring, not just some cheap Wal-Mart-jewelry-department addition to her collection?

Certainly, this is not something to be angry about — in fact, I am quite happy for my sister that she finally has concrete plans to tie the knot, instead of a "yeah, someday we will" idea — but it goes to show me that I must not be considered very important by them. It was only by chance that I even got the notion (by walking into the room at the right time), and then I still had to grill them to get the details. I wonder if I'd still be clueless had I not picked just the right moment to enter the room.

Two "home times" ago (March 15-21), I stayed in a motel for six nights. The initial part of the reasoning that led me to do that was the fact that my parents were going to be in Ann Arbor on March 17-19 to attend a three-day orientation program for families of students entering the University of Michigan Law School, which my sister will be entering in June. Since they live a mere 35 miles from Ann Arbor, one or both of my parents would return home on the evenings of March 17 and 18 to, among other things, feed the dog and take her out in the yard — two tasks of which I would dare say I am eminently capable.

However, I was more or less told that I could not stay at their house during that three-day program. To be fair, I'm sure they would say they figured it was easier on them to do things the way they did, but to me, their choice was a serious insult to my intelligence and common sense, and reeks of mistrust. Am I that untrustworthy that I can't be depended on to take care of the dog and keep the house from burning down? Seriously, a company that probably sees me as an expendable, replaceable commodity trusts me enough to allow me to operate $150,000 worth of equipment (and by extension, haul cargo worth another $100,000 or more) — and in three-plus years with this and two other companies, I have upheld their trust with no accidents and no moving violations in 300,000 miles of driving. It should be blatantly obvious that I can be entrusted with temporary stewardship of my parents' home, but for some reason, they seem to think otherwise.

My father, especially, is always reminding me, "Larry, save your money, you never know when you'll need it." Hmmm … just how does one square that idea with forcing me to spend $260 for six nights at a Motel 6? Are you telling me that Tom Bodett will leave the light on for me, but my parents won't? As I was so frequently told growing up, "actions speak louder than words" — and my parents' actions speak volumes.

Though I only mentioned it in passing at the time, my father put me on the short end of a comparison with laundry equipment last August. I had planned to attend the annual Woodward Dream Cruise with him, my sister, and her then-boyfriend/now-fiancé. The day before that, I had to do some laundry, so I loaded up their washer and let it start to fill with water. (I use liquid detergent, which you're not supposed to add until the washer fills with water.) Now herein is the rub: unlike the vast majority of washers, which will fill and then stop if you just leave the door open, their washer won't do a damn thing unless the door is closed. This means that if you're trying to do more than one task at a time and get sidetracked, the cycle will start immediately after the tub is full, and if you're not there at that moment, you're SOL. This is what happened to me; I got caught up with another task and didn't realize my error until well into the rinse cycle. I attempted to stop and reset the machine, but washers from 1979 apparently have no provision for that.

I will admit I had done the same thing once before — that is, allowed another distraction to cause me to forget to add the detergent at the right time. Still, my father's ensuing tirade was uncalled for, and really told me where I stand with my folks. "How can you be so stupid? That's MY washer!" was the gist of it. OK … sure, that is your washer, but am I not your son? What do you think should be more important, a washing machine or a son? Given the way he said it, I could only interpret his statement to mean that he figured a laundry machine is worth more to him than I am.

Perhaps 10 hours later, I could not fall asleep because I was so angry and upset. I honestly considered grabbing one of the remote controls for the garage-door opener, sneaking outside with it, locating a nice Louisville Slugger, and beating the living fuck out of his 1969 Chevrolet Camaro. I thought better of it, realizing he'd probably assemble and load his .38 rifle and blow my brains out when he saw a beat-up Camaro, but I did tell him the next morning to take his washing machine with him to the Cruise.

He did apologize for his part in the incident a few days later, but as I would find out on Christmas Day last year, he obviously didn't learn the lesson. Right around Christmas, he did something similar to my sister, and even my mother (who usually tries to stay out of such things) was chiming in, trying to show him that a small wrong by somebody else is no justification for such tirades. Between me and/or my sister, we have had several occasions on which we've had to "snap back," so to speak, and each and every time, he would at least withdraw from the conversation, if not leave the room completely. To me, that indicates a lack of willingness to make changes for the better — and since he doesn't seem to see it or care, I'll take it to another forum, namely this page.

Like I said, I really don't want to make anybody out to seem evil, and I know that my folks are human and make mistakes sometimes. I can deal with the occasional slip-up, but when it happens time after time after time, I really have to wonder. In any case, I don't want to make this update excessively long, so I'm going to call it an evening here. I will have more stories to tell next time.