I continued having trouble keeping my plates spinning. The next day I would return to work, and those super-special deliveries. Carol got off my back instantly. As this responsibility increased, I found it more difficult to balance with my similarly increasing drinking. Some lingering paranoia about the broken window would pop up intermittently. And it didn’t mix well with the intense hangover I had put so much work into the previous day.
I called a car on the app. What arrived was a pickup truck with a super-cab. A super-cab for my super-specials. This is something I could’ve used a few days ago for that statue. Now I sit in the back of what is essentially a luxury SUV with a flatbed behind it. All to pick up nothing more than a thick manilla envelope that bulges at the seams. It’s heavy enough to hold with two hands for any extended period.
The driver and I make occasional attempts at small talk. We are cordial enough in demeanor, to the extent he agreed to wait for me when I acquired the manilla bulge. I figure it’s easier to try and accomplish what I need without wasting time calling multiple cars. Or trucks, whatever. The point is this driver doesn’t seem to mind much. In fact he waits again at the envelope’s destination.
I stand facing a dirty brick facade until I’m buzzed in. Only to be met by another locked door within a few feet. Another buzzing sound, and that door opens. A hand reaches out. I stuff it with the envelope and invoice. Shit, shouldn’t have done that. I can hear movement, scribbling maybe even. It keeps me from freaking, for now. The door’s closed for a few seconds in total when the buzzing is followed by the invoice’s return. I got it delivered and signed for in less than 30 minutes. No free pizza, I chuckle to myself.
Today’s chauffeur and I are back on the road, and on to the next pickup. But first I push my luck with another stop. At a convenience store. As in it’s convenient for me to have a drink right now. Climbing back on board I notice, for the first time, a device stuck to his windshield.
“Do you record all of your routes?” I ask.
“Inside and out,” the driver replys.
“Safety first.” I try not to let my paranoia show. Then start drowning it with booze.
I had been doing ah…let’s just say better lately. Some days I didn’t have a sip. The ones I did I wouldn’t get too carried away. Except for, you know, the whole coffee date and what followed. But I’ve learned from that. Important things about myself. Things that will aid me in developing a real plan, for the future.
The lies I would tell myself were getting thin, thinner, and thinnest. There’s a certain amount of delusion involved in keeping any bad habit. My job was feeding that delusion. Providing corroboration to that little voice that was saying we work hard, we need to drink hard too. Before I had needed some complication, harassment from a bus driver at the very least. Any reason really. Sometimes I miss the bus.
Work was now providing consistent reasons. Every client I dealt with was rude. I’m sure subconsciously this vindicates the extra fee. Needing to get something for that extra money. Because, as a predetermined conclusion, nothing could ever be delivered fast enough. They had paid in full for the douchebag package.
My next pickup is a medium-sized box, but it’s heavy. The weight, whatever it is, shifts from side to side. This produces an awkward effect of the box trying to throw itself out of my hands. Any movement, even lifting is difficult. It takes some time to make it back out to my truck. Back on the road, I hold it down on the seat. With the other hand, I fish the bottle out of my front pocket, and take a swig. That’s when I get an unexpected dose of attitude from the previously cordial chauffeur.
“You can’t drink in here.”
“What if I get thirsty?” I ask.
“You know what I mean. It’s not legal to have an open container in a vehicle.”
I had begun celebrating every delivery, and then pickups, with a drink. And these super-specials had to be made faster. My anxiety and stress levels rose. It became more problematic. Like a roller coaster that never slows down. Just keeps going around until the power goes out. Then I awake, still fastened into the seat. Thinking I might be able to wiggle out. Just then, the ride starts moving again. I make more deliveries.
“What is with all these stops? You jumping in and out?” the chauffeur asks.
“Just trying to make a living pal.”
“Are you dealing drugs outta my truck? Because I swear to god…”
“You can end the ride if you’re done for the day,” I say. Thought he knew this was easy money.
“I’m not done for the day, but you keep taking me further and further. I gotta work my way back at some point.”
“If I was dealing drugs, why would all the packages be different?” Then I take a very deliberate, in your face-kinda swig. Half of it spills on my shirt as the truck jolts toward the curb.
“Get the fuck out!”
“Are you getting this all on tape? Can I get a copy?” I’m stalling as I gather my things.
The chauffeur unbuckles his seat belt and jumps out. I’ve clearly pushed my luck too far. He seems irritated. As he makes his way around the bed, I move to the front. Still holding the awkward box, I slip the bottle into my pocket. The chauffeur storms toward me in a rage. I put my hands up best I can. He has significantly reduced any possible tip.
“You’re on camera,” I say. I’m expecting to get punched. He pauses briefly. Then pushes past me. The truck is soon gone.
I tried to ride it out. I’m a professional. If you don’t count all the drinking, the lying, and so on. I’m only about halfway through my day, but he chose to struggle for fares. We all have choices to make. I’ll chose some schnapps next. Keep my breath fresh-ish as this train once again makes its slow climb up that rickety old track.