Saturday, July 5, 2014

By this time, Sunday

July 28, 1978

The sun glares as we come out of the warehouse.
It is hotter than I remember and I feel more than a little disoriented.
But this is always the feeling I get when we work a later shift than usual. Thursdays into Fridays are always bad (Roger ranting on about how we have to get the wine out for the weekend), but this one was worse than usual.
I don’t have the weekend to look forward to since Hank is off to some concert in New York State he says will be bigger than Woodstock.
Today’s my mother’s 50th birthday, so I’ll likely take the drive south to Toms River to see her, weary not.
Working the nigh shift puts all of us out of touch with the real world, captive in a brick prison for eight hours or more, my back still aching even after nearly two months of slamming cartons of booze onto an assembly line.
Our cars parked at a slant with noses against the side of the brick building already steam with the heat and we haven’t even started the engines.
John Telson – my work mate from Cosmetics Plus prior to this – climbs up into his olive green van, wheezing from too many cigarettes and the beer belly he’s collected along with his collection of beer cans.
The van is his pride a joy, and he keeps it polished as if a jewel.
I see the sweat dripping down from his brow and onto his glasses and his beard, and I wonder how he can stand to retain the beard in this heat. But like the van, this is part of who he is.
He grins at me and tells me I look tired.
I tell him I’m headed down the shore and want to know if he would like to come.
He laughs and says he can’t just take off like he used to now that he is married, but he has not yet resorted to the old cliché some of the elder workers use: ball and chain.
I watch the others emerge, the wearier of us, who have not only endured inhuman labor for this entire shift, but ingested some of the product – a side benefit management never intended us to get when hiring us on.
John asks if I’ll be back up in time for the Sunday night shift, and I tell him yes, thinking about the hurried ride up the parkway after spending two nights in my uncle’s basement couch. Yoga or not yoga, I know my back will ache just from the ride, and that by this time Monday, I’ll be a half dead zombie. But it’s better than being unemployed. So I climb into my car and pull out, heading for River Drive and the comforting ride home along the muddy banks of a river I love so much, vaguely wondering how Hank’s concert will turn out and if he will do any better at this one than he did when they hauled him out ill by helicopter from Woodstock.

By this time, Sunday, I might even know that.

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