I’m laying on the floor at half past midnight. We don’t have a desk here yet. The monitor, computer, scanner, webcam, and just about everything else in the new office is on the floor. Typing while on your stomach is an odd thing to do. Sylvia‘s on the other side of the house sleeping now. There is the hum of a hard drive, a ceiling fan, and the constant whir of the air conditioning, but otherwise the house is quiet.
The move was fairly uneventful. Ryan visited on Friday and helped us pack for a few hours. Dave Simmons was there for a bit as well. The great pack-up was, as usual, a haphazard, unorganized trial of “Where did you put …?”, “Did you remember …?”, “Is that gonna fit …?” and such. We started boxing things on Tuesday night and by Saturday afternoon we had the collected detritus of two late-twenty-somethings crammed into a 14′ U-Haul straight-jobbie. Chris was there Saturday helping us load the truck for two or three sweaty, dirty hours. Jenny and mom were there helping too, of course. Jenny left for her girlfriend Alicia’s house near Tampa in the middle of the day; we packed the small TV, the computer monitor, the ceramic Darth Vader that Nana Rainy made me in 1978, and a bunch of other fragile items into her little Red Honda Prelude before she left. I took a shower in the empty condo in Casablanca East in which I’d spent the better part of the last three years, hopped into the cab of that U-Haul (shirtless, because like a dolt I had packed every shirt I had and wasn’t about to put on a filthy one for the two-hour drive to Tampa), swore at myself for leaving my big black cowboy hat in Tampa two nights prior, and drove … (Oh, and Todd, even though they lost, my Colorado Avalanche hat was my trusty companion the whole time we were moving.)
Sylvia and my mom followed in the Rodeo. They said they saw some forest fires on the way, but I missed them. The noise inside the cab was crazy. The wind was whistling through the oversized rear-view mirrors and the engine was growling loud. We left Gainesville at just about 6 o’clock Saturday afternoon, so A Prairie Home Companion was my companion in the car almost the entire time. The trip took about two and a half hours because 70 mph was the best I could coax out of the huge Ford engine.
We got to Tampa somewhere around 8 o’clock and the truck that took us two days to load was emptied in about an hour and a half. <pride>Thanks to my excellent freight management skills</pride>, not an item shifted, smashed, or broke during the journey. Since then Sylvia, my mom, and I have been opening boxes and playing the insanely fun game of “Should we put this here …?”, “Which box had the …?”, and, “When did we get this …?” Pretty soon we’ll be all settled.
Some of our new neighbors brought us some cookies, which was nice. The people in the house diagonally across the street from us are just moving here as well. There is a big party being planned to welcome us all to the neighborhood. The street is completely unlike any place I ever lived in Gainesville. All the lights are off in all the houses by ten or eleven and there isn’t a sound to be heard. I feel like a maniac playing the Chili Peppers until 3 am. This old house was insulated by Megadeath’s road crew, apparently, because I can blast the stereo and you can’t even hear it in the bedroom, much less outside anywhere.
I’m sure I’ll write more later, and I’ll reply to the two people who wrote me eMail this weekend. <grin>
straight-jobbie (n) – any large semi-type truck that does not have a removable trailer. If you’ve just now started following the adventures of dvg, you might not know that I used to be in the trucking business. After my first year of college I jumped into my 1980 Toyota Corolla-Tercel and drove from Gainesville to Rhode Island. I worked for the entire summer at Old Dominion Freight Line in Swansea, Mass. I was a dock worker. What that means is that I was one of the guys who worked from midnight until 10 am, six days each week, loading and unloading tractor-trailers. The freight industry will be thriving until someone develops a matter-transporter or a Star Trek teleportation device. Until that day, there will be a bunch of men – tired, sweaty, filthy, usually smoking, always hungry, and full of poor humor – lumping bales of cloth, boxes of shoes, cigarettes, towels, suits, and everything else you see in your house, from one end of a dock to another. There is almost nothing that you see around you that was not, at one point, on a tractor-trailer. VCRs, TVs, dishwashing liquid, lamps, tires, gas station pumps, La-Z-Boys, winches, keyboards, guitars, books, toilet paper … it all starts a long journey from a manufacturer in North Carolina or Canada or Wisconsin and then travels a few hundred miles to a dock somewhere. On that dock are guys who take it off the long-haul truck and move it onto a local-route truck. Sometimes it might sit on the loading dock for a few days or weeks, but eventually it will be carted to a local distributor and then a store and then finally you see that nifty pair of Doc Martens that you just have to have and you drop $74 on the counter and put the shoes in your car and drive them home. It is an amazing business. The next time you lace those puppies, think that at one point there was a guy making $12/hr trying to decide if he could stack them this way or that and how they would fit in the goddamn 104 degree (F) trailer while the sweat was dripping down his back and his arms were tired and he knew that after he put that pair of shoes in place there were 429 more pairs still to be stacked and that was only the shipment for the Hingham Burdines. There were still 7 more Dillard’s and six more Macy’s and each one had a few thousand pairs of Doc Marten’s sitting on the dock and he’d been working for nine hours already, hadn’t had a sandwich since 3 am, couldn’t read his watch for all the road-grime on his forearms, and wanted to go home. Remember that that sofa in the living room? One guy had to look around and decide if the other guys would think he was a wimp if he asked for a hand taking it down from the top of a stack of four of the exact same sofa (they would) and then manhandling it to the floor of the trailer and resting it on end and using a hand cart to roll it 40 yards down the dock to stick it on another trailer to go to Framingham with 700 cases of Captain Morgan and 13 40-gallon barrels of accent-white latex paint. Think about how he wanted to sit down for ten minutes and just rest because the steel-toed shoes on his feet – which saved him his toes on more than one occasion – felt like two lead blocks and as soon as he finishes he can go home (thankgodfinally) and just then he hears two more tractors rolling into the yard loaded with wasp killer and speakers and transmissions and he knows that each trailer takes at least an hour and a half to unload and if he’s lucky there isn’t a store in Boston that can’t wait ten minutes to get the 90 cases of ceramic tile so he better not even think about taking a break and by the way he won’t be home in time for breakfast with his family again. There were days when he would wake up at 4 in the afternoon with legs cramping from moving so much freaking freight the night before. Anyway … I did that for three months straight and there are guys that do it their whole lives. This would’ve been the summer of ’92 and I can’t remember much about it besides going to work, sleeping, eating rotten sandwiches from the roach coach that drove up to the dock at 5 am, and smoking like a fiend. What’s funny about it, what’s abso-fcuking-lutely hysterical, is that I went back in the summer of ’93 and did it again. The second year there were only three dock workers still there from the previous summer. The turnover rate for dock workers is incredibly high. Most guys can’t take it. I saw grown men break down in tears when they thought that there was only clean-up work remaining and they heard more tractors coming into the yard, or when the bill-of-lading said it was a trailer full of bales of cotton – easy stuff you can move around with a forklift – and they opened the door and saw that the cotton had shifted on its fourteen hour trip up from Arkansas and they knew they were going to have to climb into the truck and move the 2 and 3 hundred pound bales with their arms and legs and backs and there was no use asking for help because the other seven guys on the dock had their own trucks to manage. I saw a guy have a carpet roll of the top of a pile and land on his head and paralyze him for a few minutes. I saw a guy screaming because a two-ton forklift had just driven over his foot and mashed his steel toes into the concrete. It’s not a pretty job and there was only ever one woman I saw working the dock. She was about 5’7″ and went a good 170 pounds. I can’t remember her name, but I remember she worked her ass off on that dock for weeks and then one day just disappeared. It was a tough job. Those two summers made everything else I’ve ever done seem like a piece of cake.
A Prairie Home Companion – This two-hour long radio show broadcasts on National Public Radio at 6 o’clock (EST) on Saturday afternoons. There is almost certainly an NPR affiliate in your area and you should do me the honor of trying to catch it at least once. I can’t say enough positive things about the program. There are live performances by a wide array of musicians, there are comedy sketches funnier by far than anything on SNL or any sitcom, there are interviews. My favorite parts are the commercials for products like Fred Farrel’s Animal Calls or Bertha’s Kitty Boutique. The last twenty minutes of the show are always tales from the mythical town on Lake Wobegon, Minnesota where, like the Gagne family, the women are strong, the men are good-looking, and the children, each and every one, are above average.