The Id and The Odyssey; Episode 17
Rich stopped at a woods off Route 80 and made his way through the thick undergrowth until he found a dry spot that could be cleared with little effort. He set up camp and spent the night.
After two cups of tea and two doughnuts purchased the day before he broke camp. Rich soon tramped from the woods and on his way.
Rich peddled through Cooperstown. Not even his love for baseball made me want to go to the Baseball Hall of Fame. He peddled like a man possessed. He wanted to get beyond New York state so badly.
He took a country road north beside Otsego Lake. He found a path that led from the road to the lake and followed it. At the lake he bathed quickly in the frigid water.
He headed toward Albany with a good wind to his back. It was the best road he had since Ohio.
Curiously and without warning his front tire began to shake and wobble violently. He stopped to examine the problem. He removed the gear and turned the bike upside down and spun the front tire. It wobbled. He was certain it was the bearings. He needed a ride. With the bike upside down and thumbing he was certain to get a ride.
A green two and a half ton truck with a dirty white canvass covering the bed squeaked to a stop just beyond Rich. A short man with a tie and white shirt emerged and waved his arms to hurry. “I can take ya to Albany,” he shouted. “Toss yer bike in the back.” He dropped the tailgate. Rich stood the bike on its wheels and ran it to the tuck. The man helped Rich hoist it up and onto the bed. He quickly closed the gate and said, “Let’s get gone, chief.”
They jumped into the cab at the same time. The looked for traffic in his side view mirror and shifted the truck into gear. He accelerated onto the road and hurriedly shifted through all the gears. He held out his hand to shake. “I’m Frank Jankowski.”
Rich clasped his thick calloused hand with stubby fingers. “Joe Deacon.”
“Where ya from Joe,” he said glancing at him briefly, sizing him up, and then his eyes focused back to the road.
“I’m from Ohio and I’m heading to Maine and I don’t know anyone there,” Rich said.
“It sounds like you’ve been ask that a lot,” Frank said. “Ya know what’s wrong with the bike?”
“It’s a bearing,” Rich said.
“There’s a bike shop down the street from my place. I’ll drop you off there,” Frank said.
“That will be great,” Rich said. “I really appreciate it. You can just leave me off any place in Albany and point me in the right direction. I don’t want to see you get in trouble for picking up anybody.”
Frank laughed. “I am the boss.” he announced proudly. “I got seventy-five trucks with Jankowski Trucking painted on the side and if I want to pick up somebody I‘ll pick ‘em up.”
“Well, I’m glad the boss is driving today,” Rich said.
“I got to drive,” Frank said. “Teamsters have got about twenty of my people convinced that they need a union. They ain’t worked in a week so I’m out drivin’. I got shipping contracts and customers all over eastern New York. I got a daughter in grade school. I’d have her drive for me if I could.”
He was growing angry. Rich thought it better to listen. After all it was a ride.
“I got nothing’ against the union or my people unionizing,” Frank said. “It’s just the petty bickering and rules. I worked two years for a truck lines. Union drove my bosses crazy. My god if ya don’t treat people right they’ll find someone who will. A worker won’t work for a slave driver and the slave driver will loose his employees, and people would rather do business with a guy who takes care of his employees. You show me a guy who takes care of his customers and I’ll show you a guy who takes care of his employees. Ya can‘t hide one or the other for very long.” He paused and smiled, “If I go on like this I’ll drive us off the road or get ulcers. Ohio you say.”
“Yeah, I lived on a farm near Lima,” Rich said.
“Never heard of it,” Frank said. “Farm boy, huh?”
“Yeah, but we lived in town until two years ago,” Rich said.
“What ya gonna do when ya get to Maine?” Frank asked.
“Don’t know yet,” Rich said. “I want to find something to get me through the winter.”
“Ya got any sort of ambition at all,” Frank said as though frustrated.
“Sure,” Rich said, “I’ve thought a lot about that the last few days. I don’t want to be known for what I do, but for who I am and what I stand for. Some things are not quite clear to me yet, but I don’t want to answer to a boss. No offence sir, but I’ve worked for people who have no appreciation for what you do and I’ve worked for those who do. If I would become an auto mechanic I want to be so good that I can pick my customers. If I own a restaurant I want to have such good food and service that if somebody gives me a hard time I just tell them have a nice day and go some place else. Or if I have a tucking business and a customer don‘t like the way I work for him I hand him your business card and say give Frank a call, he‘s a friend of mine.”