RUDIMENTS, pt. 42
I used to get heavy-down about
things; wondering a lot about 'is it
normal, or useful, for a writer to
carry around the 'past' as a burden?'
I finally decided that it was. A
definite yes; it went with the power
and the glory of being all that - art,
writing, thought, arguing back and
forth, the 'disputations' of a world
which was also disputatious. Every
other opportunity in the world was
at the ready, opening its door for me,
to entice me away. Oh, how I wanted
not to fall. But - as with a pretty girl,
I suppose - it finally got to me and
won me over. Always against my own
better wishes, but like a fool, I went.
A person cannot spend the rest of
his or her days ruing and regretting
all that - or I don't think so anyway.
I went ahead, no matter whether
anything added up or not.
I met a truck driver today, from Florida,
in his big rig, sitting at the side of a road,
right where he was going to stay for the
night, sleeping in his sleeper cab. We talked
but a moment, a quick little joke or two
about some old factory building that was
there. He said he'd come up from Florida,
the truck was full (tractor-trailer) and, since
it was Sunday afternoon, he was going to
park and stay right there, for the morning
shift to arrive, and be first in line for unloading.
A truckload of cheese, he had, going in to
a cheese distribution warehouse - restaurants
and such. When we were done, he shut down,
adjusted his air-control for the inside of the
sleeper, covered up his windows, and turned
in. What a life! I was almost envious - tooling
around, 7 or 8 states away, 1200 miles from
home, a real road-guy. He just seemed normal
and total and regular. Nothing bugging him,
not even the 14 hour wait. That was all I
could never be. I'd go stir crazy in two hours.
Maybe the possibilities abounded and were
endless, once. He was going (my practical,
stupid knowledge here), to be empty once
they unloaded him, with that long trip back
to Florida due. One thing you NEVER do
when driving like that is go back home,
empty. That's a dead trip, nothing in it,
no profit, lost mileage. These truck guys
have freight-brokers they contract with who,
for a fee, keep them loaded and happy : 'OK,
you're coming up to NYC, when you empty
in Elizabeth, I've got four skids for you to
load for Georgia, in Jersey City, at Chandler
Lamp, and another seven skids of clothing
at the Textile Center warehouse in the Jersey
Meadows. For Orlando. If you want another
stop, there are three skids in Charlottesville
that go to South Carolina.' Gypsy caravan time,
for sure. Nothing like living on the road. In
fact, I used to think, if not being a driver,
it would be pretty cool to be one of those
broker-guys, arranging all this stuff, the
contracts and pick-ups and routings. Home
office, work one's own desired load and
that would be that. More wishful thinking;
I'd not know the half about it and there are
probably a hundred really annoying factors
factors that go with it all. From insurance,
to trust and fulfillment in the drivers, etc.
No time to think.
What room there is in that for brooding, for
art, for doubt and distaste, I don't know. He
seemed to have none of that, though he also
seemed not to notice that I could hardly hear
him over the roar of his idling truck, and the
compressor cooling his interior. So maybe h
wasn't so sharp after all; or at least not as an
actor. An actor-guy would know how to 'project,'
and know that he had to. But, anyway.
All across New York City, from most every
direction, there were trucks. You'd think of it
as the stupidest place in the world for that sort
of traffic and commence - and it really is -
yet it goes on. Canyoned streets, vertical buildings,
no places to park large trucks, everything has to
off-load at street level, and go UP, usually in
really miserable freight elevators. The helping
hand and loading dock guys are mostly marginal
characters, half the time up to no good. You
turn your back, something's missing. Parking
cops are everywhere, ready to pounce for the
double-park, the time violations, whatever.
People are angry, cars back up on narrow streets,
their fuming and yelling occupants ready to
kill, everything is aggression; no one's happy.
Everyone's skin and face is pale, bad sunlight,
dirty streets, pollution, junk food everywhere,
rats and pigeons, leaky water and who-knows-
what-else running in the gutters; all that crap
gets all over you. In the heat your skin crawls.
The streets get oven-like, while inside the
buildings they keep it set at maybe 12 degrees
above freezing. It's 114 degrees at curbside and
the indoor people are wearing sweaters. All
things are crazy - tunnels, bridges, traffic
jams, fees, fender-benders, tickets, a paucity
of bathrooms. Yep, that's what I want to do,
that's how I want to spend my time, that's
where I want to be. Please, get me another
load of bananas, the whole truckload, to
deliver to these monkeys in their zoos.