Road Builder

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The parking lot was intensely busy, and I was already quite grumpy. I was trying to hold it together and be polite, but it seemed like the best I could do was concentrate on not getting myself fired.

A pickup truck pulled into the the lot; several other vehicles were behind it. The pickup truck was going abnormally slow. Sure, I don’t want people driving like Dale Earnhardt Jr. in the parking lot, but folks need to keep up a brisk pace, or there’s going to be a logjam.

I could see the driver of the pickup ruck was a very old man. I thought maybe he didn’t know where to go (people are often confused by the parking lot’s one-way traffic), so I went from my regular hand motion signally this way and come on down into broad, sweeping arm gestures. The truck continued to put-put-putter in, and I was worried the old man might swerve any minute and start going the wrong way on the loop. I added to my sweeping arm gestures shouts of This way! This way! Neither the driver nor his passengers seemed to notice me until the driver’s side window was next to my head.

After determining the crew in the truck (the old man driver, a younger woman squashed in the middle, and a young man in the passenger seat) was in fact there for the trail, I gave my little speech: The trail begins across the street. You are on a one-way loop. Look for a place to park. Once you’re parked, pay the $5 parking fee on your way to the trail.

The very old man driving finally showed some animation. You’re going to charge me to park, he demanded, when I’m the one who built this road?

That’s one I’d never heard before!

I wonder if he tries that at the supermarket. You’re going to charge me for these groceries when I’m the one who built the road out there?

I wonder if he has a certificate listing all the road he’s built so he can prove himself to skeptics.

I wonder if he’s ever built a road in his life, or if this is just a ploy he uses to get into places for free.

In any case, I was surprised and stammered that my boss told me I had to charge everyone who parks in the parking lot.

Then he just sat there, his truck blocking the traffic flow. I tried to shoo him away, told him to go and park, and then just walked away from the truck to talk to the next driver in line.

I realized later I’d not seen the truck leave the parking lot, nor had I seen the old man or either of his passengers step up to pay me or my co-worker. But the parking lot was really busy, and it was conceivable the truck had left or the male passenger (of whom I hadn’t gotten a good look) had paid my co-worker while I was involved with another visitor.

Much later, I saw a truck approach the lot’s exit. I saw the old man driving that truck was the man who’d claimed to have built the road. He was dangling money out of his window. I guess he’d finally decided to pay his parking fee. I immediately became quite interested in looking in the direction opposite of the old man. He was closer to my co-worker anyway, and I figured it was my co-worker’s turn to deal with him.

My co-worker said the old guy told him, I built this road, and my co-worker thought I know who you are. As the guy paid his parking fee, he demanded to know where the money went. My co-worker said he handed over the money to his supervisor every week. From there, (shrug) he guessed the Forest Service got a cut…

The old guy must have been ready to go because he didn’t linger to share his road-building credentials. He just slowly pulled the pickup out of the lot.

 

About Blaize Sun

My name is Blaize Sun. Maybe that's the name my family gave me; maybe it's not. In any case, that's the name I'm using here and now. I've been a rubber tramp for nearly a decade.I like to see places I've never seen before, and I like to visit the places I love again and again. For most of my years on the road, my primary residence was my van. For almost half of the time I was a van dweller, I was going it alone. Now my (male) partner and I (a woman) have a travel trailer we can pull with our truck. We have a little piece of property, and when we're not traveling, we park our little camper there. I was a work camper in a remote National Forest recreation area on a mountain for four seasons. I was a camp host and parking lot attendant for two seasons and wrote a book about my experiences called Confessions of a Work Camper: Tales from the Woods. During the last two seasons as a work camper on that mountain, I was a clerk in a campground store. I'm also a house and pet sitter, and I pick up odd jobs when I can. I'm primarily a writer, but I also create beautiful little collages; hand make hemp jewelry and warm, colorful winter hats; and use my creative and artistic skills to decorate my life and brighten the lives of others. My goal (for my writing and my life) is to be real. I don't like fake, and I don't want to share fake. I want to share my authentic thoughts and feelings. I want to give others space and permission to share their authentic selves. Sometimes I think the best way to support others is to leave them alone and allow them to be. I am more than just a rubber tramp artist. I'm fat. I'm funny. I'm flawed. I try to be kind. I'm often grouchy. I am awed by the stars in the dark desert night. I hope my writing moves people. If my writing makes someone laugh or cry or feel angry or happy or troubled or comforted, I have done my job. If my writing makes someone think and question and try a little harder, I've done my job. If my writing opens a door for someone, changes a life, I have done my job well. I hope you enjoy my blog posts, my word and pictures, the work I've done to express myself in a way others will understand. I hope you appreciate the time and energy I put into each post. I hope you will click the like button each time you like what you have read. I hope you will share posts with the people in your life. I hope you'll leave a comment and share your authentic self with me and this blog's other readers. Thank you for reading.  A writer without readers is very sad indeed.

4 Responses »

  1. That’s an argument that I haven’t heard before! If he helped pour the basement for a hospital, or delivered the elevator parts, would that mean he gets free medical care for the rest of his life?

    When I hit the road (hopefully next year), I was thinking about getting a job like yours. But I’ve dealt with idiots for so many years, I probably wouldn’t have the patience.

    • Yeah Sue, I don’t know if you could handle my job. You seem to have even less patience than I do, and this season has been quite a struggle for me. Seems like there are even more clueless people this year than there were last year.

    • You’re right about that Jennifer. I thought I saw a lot of idiots at the Bridge, but I see way more where I am now. I haven’t figured out why.

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