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Junkie Monkeys

Junkie Monkeys


Phone: (717) 843-7612

Driver's Helper

     As I am not currently riding the crest of  the bestseller list and house-hunting in Malibu, I decided to take a “seasonal” position at a well known parcel delivery service over the holidays. The job description is “driver’s helper”. Translation: driver’s bitch. I didn’t really read any of the paperwork I signed when I applied for the job, but I’m pretty sure there is a clause in there where you are not allowed to write in your blog about what went on during your employment. In keeping with their “loose lips sink packages” code of secrecy I will only say that once I donned my uniform I looked like a giant turd.
     Since I had worked for this company in this same “seasonal” position six years ago (and there weren’t many applicants) I was a shoe-in. Let me restate: six years ago. That’s practically a lifetime in dog years. Taking a page from Toby Keith’s song “As Good As I Once Was” I figured I could stumble through.
     During orientation it is repeatedly drilled into your psyche how when the driver says “Take this package and run it to the side door” they do NOT mean to actually RUN. Yeah. Right. They also stress that you are always to deliver from behind the truck. In other words, you are a much better target for speeding cars if there are no obstructions in their way (you know, like a big ass truck full of packages).
     So…the way this works is, you call in at 8 a.m. and they tell you where and when you are to meet your driver. My first five days I worked with five different drivers on five wildly different routes. I’m not complaining. There is no time for monotony. After the fifth day they assigned me to a driver who has worked for the company since they delivered by pony. His route is very much in the area I live, and I got a whole new view of the town. This driver is a font of knowledge about the people he delivers to. I’m not sure how he became privy to so much inside scoop, but he could write a book and it would be a doozy. I mentioned this to him, and he seemed intrigued. Should he decide to move forward with this plan, I’m throwing my hat in the ring to be his ghost writer. Lurid, is too mild a word. I smell a hit.
     In keeping with the nondisclosure nature of this piece, I am going to give my new best friend an alias. From now on I will refer to him as Scooby. Not because I’m a fan of talking dogs; just because I know how mortified he would be to be called Scooby. Hey, if that’s how I get my jollies, who are you to question it?
     In our area, Scooby has the most seniority with this company…hell, probably nationwide. And, since he has seniority (this IS a union job) he is still allowed to use an “old school” truck. That means it is the only one in operation that is NOT wired so that the man behind the curtain can see exactly everything the driver is doing. The Eye in the Sky knows when your seat belt hasn’t been fastened and how long it takes for you to make a delivery down to the millisecond. They even know what you had for lunch (if there was ever time to take one)! Being an old school truck, the step into the cab is at least a foot higher than any other truck I delivered from. This means that you have to catapult into the cab and parachute out, roll and run. I’ve got a knee that’s been welded together with leftover car parts and gum and have broken and sprained both ankles multiple times. I don’t even want to guess how many times I’ve broken all of my toes.
     During orientation, you are also told that you will exit the truck an average of 200 plus times a day. Their math is shoddy. To exacerbate the jarring joints factor, 95% of the houses that we delivered to had driveways that were at least a mile long and were either 60 degrees straight up, or 60 degrees straight down. Whether leaving the truck or returning, you were scaling Olympus. By the time I finished the “season” my legs were chiseled from marble. From the waist up I still look like the Pilsbury Dough Idiot, but my legs look like Brad Pitt’s in the movie “Troy” (except shorter, hairier and covered in scars). I would characterize my delivery style as “wounded trotting”.
     The helper must also carry a scanning device which is the size of some of the earliest computers and just as cutting edge. Once you have set the package(s) down (oh, yeah- there are innumerable rules on how and where to place the package) you scan it and then input a constantly evolving set of codes. More frequently than I care to recall, Scooby would yell “What’s taking so long?” from the safety of the truck as I mashed my fingers repeatedly against every key in a vain attempt to make it work. Sometimes, Scoob would get so fed up that he would emerge from the truck, make the arduous trek to where I was beating the scanner against a wall and (to my absolute pleasure) not get it to work. He’d be forced to whip out his tiny pocket sized scanner and bingo! Back to the truck we’d hobble.
     Have I mentioned that the helper’s door stays forever open? There is no reason to close it. Most of the time I would pole vault into the truck, fasten my seat belt and already be halfway back out the door. Luckily, the weather, for the most part, was gloriously cooperative. Six years ago, I spent most of my time diving out onto glaciers or into banks of snow. This time everything was hunky dory until around 4 p.m. when the temperature and sun would simultaneously drop. My last day, I was christened by an unending torrential downpour. Defying the laws of probability, I leapt into a pond of water at every stop. As if the insult of having my shoes and calves drenched the whole day wasn’t enough, there was a constant rivulet of water that poured from the doorway onto my legs during the ride and down the back of my collar whenever I dismounted and reached back in for the stack of 95 pound packages.
     In closing, I survived another season and swore that I would never submit myself to this abuse again, but I forgive and forget pretty easily. Mainly forget.
     In all seriousness, I commend and salute parcel delivery drivers around the world. It is fast-paced, relentless work and their days are long with no room for goofing off. They don’t go back to the Alpha Base until their truck is empty. All of the drivers I worked with were pleasant, entertaining characters who handled themselves with good cheer and professional courtesy. It is often a thankless job, although I was very impressed with how cordial the majority of the people we interacted with were. There is still plenty of good in the world. And from what I’ve seen, Amazon is distributing the lion’s share of it.

Book Trailer for "In the Seam"

Hey, all the Cool Kids are doing it, so why not an Oldie Moldy! Here's my trailer for "In the Seam": SPOILER! You're still going to have to READ the book to find out what the hell is going on. And even then, you may be wondering!!

Secret Agent of Love

Here's the freshly tweaked video with the newly mastered version of "Secret Agent of Love" included. You can dance if you want to. No one's watching (I checked).

Happy Friday?

Ahhh, another balmy Pennsyltucky Friday in late April. I had to come inside the house twice while mowing the lawn, to put on more seal skins, scarves, gloves, ski goggles, insulated boots and long underwear. There is no feeling in my face and my ears are blue and ringing. Excuse me while I fire up the acetylene torch and attempt to thaw the icicle that has formed on my nose. How's your day?

Nobody Knows What I Nose...

Twenty-five years ago, who would've guessed that David Lee Roth would become the Crispin Glover of Rock'n'Roll? This goof is one stamp shy of postal!

Who's Driving?

Total Disclosure: I've never owned a new car. Complete Total Disclosure: I've never owned a car that was made in the same decade as the one I was living in. Sometimes the car was as old if not older than me.
     The grand tradition of naming these cars began with my very first: a light blue Oldsmobile. One of my best friends said that it looked like the one that Sgt.Vince Carter (pictured above) from the show "Gomer Pyle" drove; except without the fins on the back. Everyone began to call the car "Vince" or the "Vincemobile".
     Instead of a needle, Vince's speedometer had a fat line that would change color from green to orange to red. "Oh no, we've got Vince in the red!" became a commonly heard scream from the back seats.
     And then a new phenomena began. People would talk about seeing Vince out and about somewhere. Not me. Vince. "I saw Vince burning down Market Street the other day!" "Vince was sitting outside of the Turkey Hill." "How did Vince end up in that tree?" It began to feel like an out-of-body experience. The car had usurped the owner.
     This trend didn't end through the decades. Many cars came and went, followed by a fleet of beat-up vans. They all had colorful names. And, they were all spotted going places without me. This also happened when I was given the nickname "Uncle Raymond". "Yeah, Uncle Raymond was up to his old antics the other night!" "Yeah, I know. Did you see him..." All of this with me standing right there. Sheesh.
     I have now bequeathed (if only symbolically) one of the last of these four wheeled monstrosities to "The Rock Brothers" in my book "In the Seam". It seems only appropriate that they as young long-haired musicians should inherit "Vanikan Skywalker". I hope they take good care of the beast. Total Disclosure: They don't. They end up in the "Seam" by crashing him into an oak tree. Oh, well. He didn't have much life in the old tank anyway.

The Reason I Live

My son is at his Mom's and I'm watching "Interstellar". We saw it in the theater. But now, watching it alone I realize: Being a father is the only thing that now defines me. And I wouldn't have it any other way. Thank you Skylar, for making me a complete person: proud, scared, insanely protective and so wishing to be here for the whole journey to your fruition. Nothing I ever do again, will  be as good as you. I love you.