I have the weekend off to nurse the whiplash inevitably caused by living out the motion of being rear ended over 200 times a day. Thank god because Day 10 is a freak show. My driver says to meet him at the Big’s off of 46. You know where that is? Yes, I say, I know where that intersection is. The big gas station on the corner? Yes, that’s the one, he assures me. It’s noon and he says maybe he’ll need me around 2 or 3 or maybe 4 o’clock. I’m hesitant because foul dude was sort of just as indecisive and I’m already getting the vibe that packages will be thrown and doors will be slammed so I make a note to braid my earplugs on a string into my bun. This one is far out of town, a solid 40 minutes from where I live and we’re already on the outskirts.
I’m getting used to gearing up in my Browns and hanging out working on the computer for hours while I wait for them to call and say meet me in 15 minutes at Blank. I don’t like to be late. I also don’t like to live up to the stereotype that women take forever to get ready. But, with a mane of Texas-sized hair to tame, I need a minimum of half an hour to shower and get out the door. More if I need to pack a lunch.
Around two, R. calls to say he’s ready and we should be out until around 8 p.m. Great! I say, thinking how nice it will be to be gone for the nephews’ nightly bedtime ritual of screaming, throwing fits, getting really thirsty and then wanting to give hugs and kisses to everyone they just gave a thorough beat down to. There is no Big’s on the corner. There’s a big gas station. It’s called Valero. I drive past thinking maybe it’s a bit down the road and there’s another one. It’s also called Valero. I’ve been on the road for 40 minutes. I call the driver. He doesn’t answer. I pull over in a subdivision and plug Big’s into the GPS. It says there’s one about seven minutes away so I follow it, waiting for R. to call me back. No call. Around 3:30 I’m back at the intersection he originally said to meet him filling up my tank at the Chevron across the street from Valero. I only use Chevron. Valero gas is like cool-aid – great when you’re a kid and all your mom can afford is a flavor packet and couple cups of sugar. As an adult, there’s no substitute for high-quality fuel. And if you don’t put crappy gas in your car, why would you put it in your body?
This is the conversation R. and I are having after he finally calls and clues me in to the fact that Big’s IS Valero and I hop in the truck with him after texting my location to a few friends. Everyone in TX knows Big’s is Valero, he exclaims with a hardy ho, ho, ho even though it’s nowhere to be seen on an actual sign. No, see it’s on the DOOR. Oh yes, about 12 inches high. Clearly visible from a parking space right in front of the entrance. Apparently, just another I’m not from around here moment.
R is rotund. There is no better word to describe him. If you looked up rotund in the dictionary, R’s picture would be there. He’s a redhead too with preternaturally preserved pink skin and a child-like gaze that I simultaneously adore and find hideously creepy in a nearing 50-year-old man. He tows the party line like the other two. Been here eleven years, love it, wouldn’t trade it for the world. Couldn’t really since I’m vested now and they work us around 12 hours a day every day with no lunch so the only thing we can do when get home is eat and pass out and do it all over again the next day. I quickly recall foul dude’s emphatic, I have a degree after telling me that he entered soon after high school and never left because the money was too good.
But back to R. He’s dreamy. Polite. Soft spoken. Communicates where we are going next and what my role is. Asks questions and gets lost but ultimately finds his way and never, ever throws a package. My question is: How in the hell do you work somewhere for a decade and still not have a clue how to excel at it? I’ve been with three drivers whose experience totaled the entirety of my youngest sister’s existence. Three different types of people. Three different approaches. No uniformity. No organization. No training? I have to think they must be thrown out into the world just like we, the seasonal driver helpers were. I’m beginning to question the logic of a company that has made seemingly zero improvements to a system that IMHO should include state of the art dispatch. Instead, there is an sadly out-dated DIAD that weighs about a 120 pounds around one foot outside the driver’s regular range of motion causing him to lean out of balance while driving and put his back, not to mention his hand at risk for repetitive motion injuries.
Why doesn’t a profitable company whose sole function is to deliver packages have the most awesome bouya baby get it there gadgets the western world has to offer? Why aren’t its driver’s—the humans behind the machine—getting lunch instead of working through the pain and ending up that fat dude with toned and tanned legs? I wonder what the risk of heart attack is among them. I make a bet it’s disproportionally high. R. nods. When did it become standard operating procedure for a hard-working American man to sacrifice eating for his job or for anything for that matter? R. and I agree it’s a shame people easily understand that a car won’t go anywhere without fuel but still think they can deprive their bodies of vital proteins and nutrients and continue to live a high-energy, disease-free life.
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