THAT WAS THEN-
I wrote this during the first week of classroom tractor-trailerin’ training while I was peering around wondering what I’d got myself into this time and thinking these seriously vicious looking dudes were gonna beat the fuck out of me the first chance they got.
One of the people that somehow has the spare time to read my shit was also bored and lifeless enough to e-mail me.
In her missive she told me that even the medical school D-listers would still be called Doctor when they got their degree- I think maybe inferring that I should just a tad more tender and understanding.
Inferences and warmy, tender understandings shoved aside, I feel like I should explain about Them.
Picture two rows of tables in a tiny cinder block room. Each table can, could, seat two.
At the front left is Baby Huey. He is fricking HUGE. He’s probably 350 lbs. and 6’4″ and has SIEG HEIL tattooed on his knuckles and sleeves creeping up both arms resplendent with Nazi and Adolf Hitler crap. And did I mention his shaved head is tattooed too? Yeah, baby. He sits by himself, I’m not sure why.
Next table back are the Twee? Twi? guys. They’re these black dudes that barely speak english and came from Uganda or someplace and would rather speak Twee. Or maybe Twi. Who knows?
And then there’s the perfect me and next to me is the spooky guy. I don’t know why, but he’s kinda glommed onto me, and, again, I don’t know why, but it doesn’t bug me. But he’s still spooky.
Behind me are two black guys. One has a really lyrical, almost Rastafarian cadence that’s fun to listen to for about 20 minutes. Unfortunately, the class is 4 1/2 hours. The other guy is really quiet and maybe a gang banger. I don’t talk to them.
Behind them, up against the wall, all by himself in a chair, is this sad white dude. He’s completely separated himself from the class on all levels. He spent time running and gunning in Iraq and just wants to get his CDL and vanish.
To my right is the goofy guy that wants to be my best friend ever and the portly black guy who’s NEVER driven anything with a clutch which I’m guessing will make the driving fun and interesting for the guys in his truck.
On the table in front of them is another vet and this skinny white dude that I’d like to talk to and find out his story, but probably won’t mostly ’cause my introvertedness won’t allow it.
So yeah, that’s Them.
THIS IS NOW-
Fast forward through a month of classroom and testing to the end of our first week actually driving the big trucks- (even though driving consists mostly of creeping back and forth around the fenced in yard trying to not run over traffic cones) and time and proximity and conversation have subtly shifted my perceptions.
Baby Huey is Brandon. He moved here from the pointy part of the state to train for a career that would’ve paid for his girlfriend and her three kids that he helped raise for the last nine years except that she called and told him not to come home during the second week of class.
The two Twee? or Twi? guys? They’re still turds.
I am, of course, still perfect in every way.
And the spooky guy? He’s Robert. After a protracted battle he finally wrested sole custody of his seven year old son from his dead wife’s parents. He adores his son. He’s still spooky but I like him.
The two black guys? The maybe gang-banger and the lyrical Rastafarian? They’re still annoying- if I have to listen to them argue about Eagles vs. Cowboys ONE. MORE. TIME. I might just, um, I don’t know, do something.
The sad white dude is still sadly conflicted. I’ve had a chance to talk to him now and, I don’t know, but, I think he’s heading down a really darkly sorrowful road.
The goofy overly talkative guy is still really goofy and non-stop talkative, like NEVER non-stop talkative, like it might be a disease or something and the portly non-driving guy is trying really hard to handle these trucks.
And the last two of our motley crew? The vet is only mildly annoying and the skinny white kid is David. He’s only 22 and already has a kid and is trying to live up to his father’s and grandfather’s expectations. Both were truckers and it sounds like they expect big things from him. He’s scrawny little guy with bulging eyes that sidles up to you like a whipped puppy. I talk to him every chance I get.
So that’s it.