Friday, October 23, 2009
It Takes One to Judge One.
After I had entered the complex and drove around to the back, I dropped my trailer in the crisp predawn of a fall morning. I was by myself until another truck pulled around. He backed into a dock a few doors down from me. We both had to wait for the Receiving Office to open up. I had seen him walking around, he was a big guy. Suddenly, Showtunes burst from his cab. I could hear the unmistakably strains of Broadway belting, thumping through the sheet metal. It is a bit unnerving to think of a big burly truck driver listening to Showtunes. And he was blasting them. I could just see some fan of John Wayne Gacy slipping out of his truck to come see me, [hey, big guy] in a Clown Suit, with a straight razor. I shivered at the thought.
It was about ten 'til five, the guard said that Receiving would be open by now. I climbed down to go inside. About three steps toward Door 43 and I heard another door slam shut. I looked over my shoulder just to make sure there was no clown suit. At the office, the door was still locked.
As the other driver walked up to meet me at the door, he had the lazy back-heal saunter of a dimwit. He made up for this by being twice the size of a normal man. To put a fine edge on it, he was rotund, spherical almost. He looked like the Batman's Penguin, if the Arch Criminal had fallen on hard times. He was in a tshirt and jeans rather than a tux and spats. His tshirt said “American by Birth. Christian by Grace.”
“Yep, after I leave here I go back into Indy and then to Oklahoma,” he said, as if I cared. His hair hung at odd angles, ripped as much as cut in the classic 5 minute Truckstop Barber Style. The sagging unshaven jowls gave him a unkept look that matched his clothes. I had to check if the printing on his shirt was metallic because the next thing he said was “Georgia Pacific, Muskogee, I hate that fuckin' place.” I could swear the moonlight flashed a little on the words “Christian by Grace," but I must have imagined it.
We stood there in uncomfortable silence for a few minutes. He seemed like the kind of guy who would spend a half hour considering what he should say in a given situation. In the end, it would always blurt out, semi-appropriate and uninteresting. His wedge into the greater social world blunter and less effective than he had hoped. I know this to be true because I've often done it myself.
The Rotund One broke back in, “You got a garage door on that trailer?”
I was still a little sleepy that morning; more than I thought. Stunned, I cast a glance at my trailer just 10 feet from the stairs we stood on. Damned if he wasn't right! I had backed in to the dock without opening the doors. If Receiving ever opened, they wouldn't be able to unload me anyway. Who's the Dimwit now?!?!??
I kicked at the chock under my trailer wheel but it wouldn't budge. The trailer would have to be pushed off of it. The Rotund Driver had followed me over. I walked back up front and climbed aboard. As I hooked back to the trailer and gave it shove, the driver leaned over and pulled the chock out for me. When I pulled forward to open the doors, he stepped around behind me and opened them up. I nudged the dock and he stepped up the stairs and into the now opened office. He had done his good deed for the day and I had had a lesson in the futility of prejudging someone. When I got inside, I thanked him.