"Irish Line 1"
I walk inside, a long hike in the sweltering heat that has engulfed New Jersey the last couple days.
"Hey, it's E".
"What's up man? How's the first day of vacation?"
"Not bad. Listen, I had to talk to you before I left though. You remember Rob? The big black guy that drove the Pyle truck?"
"Yea, of course".
"Listen, he died the other day".
"Yea, man. The rep came and told me... he was playing basketball with his kids and had a heart attack. I figured I'd tell you before you heard it through the grapevine, cause I know you're the one that unloads the trucks..."
"Ahh... yea, thanks man. Uh, I'll see you... when you get back I guess."
I'll be honest- I never even knew his name was Rob. He was one of those guys that you were never close to, but you knew him well enough that when he pulled that massive tractor trailer into the yard, you smiled because you knew you could bullshit with him for twenty minutes and forget that your job sucks.
When I first met him, he intimidated the shit out of me. He was a huge guy, having played semi-pro football before a back injury ended his career. However, he still retained the bearings of a bodybuilder, with forearms thick as hams, and calves that looked as though they could pound through the pavement, or dent that platform of steel on the back of the big rig he roamed, wearing his red timberlands. He was either black or Hispanic; I couldn't tell, because he had a skin tone that could lend itself either way, and a buzz cut that was offset by the small glasses he wore on his eyes. Ghetto in his actions, he had a high voice and an animated nature that would get continually louder and more brazen the more excited he got, to the point where I would have to look around the lot nervously to make sure none of my bosses could hear his wailing as he explained the intricacies of dissecting a Cover 2 defense while using the Eagles in Madden.
The last conversation I had with him was me telling him I hoped the Giants sucked this year, just so "The Big Boy" (Giant's backup quarterback Lorenzen) could get in, and how much he hated Tom Coughlin: "Y'all'll be better off if Coughlin does terrible this year, y'all can get'em out!" You remember that quote in one of my earlier blogs about how "These niggas can't handle they money?" That was him.
Rough though he may have been, he was also a family man, one with four children, from little runts to teenage. I recal that he took his children to Williamsburg this summer on vacation; we talked a lot about that, being as I had been there a couple of years ago.
What scares me is that he was maybe in his late thirties, and in impossibly good shape. Those kids he had later watched him die on some fucking basketball court... and I worry that they will grow up like him, and have to claw their way out of some ghetto now that their father is dead, the man who drove a truck every day at 5:00 in the morning and worked an honest job. Honestly... it just hurts, and it's dissapointing.
Here's to you Rob... one day we will talk about my Giants and your Cowboys again over a couple of cold Coronas, be it in heaven or hell. The next truck driver I get every day... well, I'll ask him his name this time.
"Are you going to the wake?"
"Even if I knew where it was... it'd be too fucking sad. And I've had enough wakes to last me a life time."