Into the Distance is a first-hand description of a world of truck driving that has long-since disappeared. Back in the 1970s and early 80s, drivers had to be independent and resourceful, in a world without mobile phones (and often even accessible landlines). Truck driving required skill and resourcefulness, was exciting, sometimes hazardous and, ultimately, very satisfying.
It begins with a breakdown in Saudi Arabia, on Bennett’s first trip to the Middle East, from which he had to extricate himself unaided. It then backtracks to recount how, having graduated from university, he worked his way up in the trucking world from local work in Britain to long-haul journeys to Italy, communist Romania and the Persian Gulf. The book explains how crossing borders often required diplomacy, and how entering France routinely involved petty bribes to customs. It describes how truck drivers saw other countries from a unique perspective, as they mixed with all sorts of working people on their own home ground.
Also discussed is the fine line between being a loner behind the wheel and being lonely, and how long-haul trucking with weeks away from home was often damaging to family relationships.
The book describes breakdowns, break-neck schedules, brushes with smugglers, and how Bennett found himself stranded by riots in Iraq following the signing of the Israel-Egyptian peace treaty in 1979. He was caught up in two French lorry driver strikes, one of which blockaded the port of Dover, and in which he played a key role as an interpreter between the drivers and British officialdom. All part of the job.
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