32. Logjam


The backseat of this Altima is extremely worn. Almost to the point I don’t know what I’m sitting on. Seems to be nothing at all. The driver has a cooler in his passenger seat. This is either for delivering food as well as people, or he gets very thirsty out on the road all day. Maybe both. In any event, this vehicle has a sense of being overused.

My delivery volume has continued its upswing. I’m benefitting from making more deliveries, and therefore more money. Leading me to take more taxis. The real kicker is not spending it on booze. This is sometimes parlayed with public transportation. I view this as a competition of sorts with myself. A game of how much money can I make and save simultaneously.

It’s been working very well for me lately in terms of improved job performance. To the point where Central is taking notice. Carol texted me today with rare good news. I’ve been selected for some special assignments. She plays this up, as if it’s solely a result of my performance.

In this instance, Carol is betting on my ignorance of the recent departure of a slew of couriers. Half of Central’s temporary external workforce was poached by a new service. While this is not uncommon, those of my employ were ill-prepared. I will now rake in the spoils. Merely by being unaware of the new service. It’s just dumb luck. But I’ll take it.

Then I’m struck by intense curiosity. Is Myra still with the company? A race ensues between my heartbeat and mind. To see who is fastest. Would it be ok for me to text her? It is just to talk shop. Completely informal. She may not respond in fear of another date request. But really, what have I got to lose?

I’m contemplating such a venture while trying to keep up with the texts from Carol. It’s then I realize this Altima hasn’t moved in a while. But I re-adjust in the lack of cushion every few seconds. Finally, I look up from my phone to assess the situation. To know how heavy the traffic is, what possible delays we’re dealing with.

The car in front of us definitely isn’t moving. It is quite the logjam for a side street. Even for such a narrow lane. I continue to examine this situation, glancing back at my phone screen occasionally for updates. Something doesn’t seem quite right. I can’t see much through the tinted back window of the car in front of us. Although I’m certain there is another car in front of that one.

When this driver, who has been quiet so far, starts cursing this car in front of us, I then notice we’re sitting too far over to the right. We’re not stuck in traffic. We’re sitting behind a parked car with the engine running. He must’ve taken the last turn too wide for us to end up in this predicament. That’s truly all I can surmise.

The cursing intensifies. A honking of the horn is added periodically. All to expel these most unnecessary, and confused frustrations. I want to say something. But I don’t know how. Is this guy unhinged? Will he become unhinged if I point out the obvious? Maybe he has a lot on his mind. That doesn’t make me feel any more comfortable. I’ve been riding in his vehicle with my face in a phone. Perhaps he would just be embarrassed. And it would eventually make for a good hearty laugh to have about it.

 “Bad traffic today huh?” is what I settle on. I ask this while holding the door handle, making sure it’s unlocked.

 “Man I tell ya. This is getting fucking ridiculous man.”

 “Well I appreciate the ride. I’m in a rush. Gonna have to walk from here. Have a good day.”

 “Yes, have a good day sir.”

I’m out of the car and walking around the nearest corner as rapidly as I possibly can without causing suspicion. Just in case. I hear him honking and cursing some more as I try to pretend I’m not hurrying away. I can’t help but wonder how long he’ll sit there. That stops me in my tracks as I double over with laughter. No offense to him of course. It’s just one of those situations. So naturally comical. He couldn’t see the traffic through the cars.

I nearly described the entire ordeal to Carol. Remembering at the last instant I’d be outing myself as a subpar courier because of my methods. My finger hovers over the send button. Then quickly taps the backspace. Promotions, even semi-bogus ones, can sometimes increase camaraderie. Which can be dangerous for job security.

I’ll have to remember to keep my mouth shut. Quietly ascend the ladder. The folks at Central Station don’t know shit. And while they might want to rectify that, we’re not quite on the same team. I’m not going to be the one to tell them anything. If they want to know why there’s so much traffic, they’ll have to pay closer attention.