The Id and The Odyssey; Episode 22
The Food For Thought Episode
Rich woke the next morning when he heard the shower. After laying and thinking of the events that took place a few hours earlier he went downstairs and into the kitchen. Frank was sipping a cup of coffee.
“You Okay?” he asked.
Rich nodded sleepy-eyed.
“I’m going into the terminal,” Frank said. “Why don’t you get some more rest. I’m not going to need you today.”
Rich nodded and went back to bed.
At ten o’clock Mrs. Jankowski woke Rich. She was the female version of Mr. Jankowski. She was short, stout, and spirited. “Is there something I can get you?”
“I got to get to the terminal,” Rich said raising and resting on his elboys. “I told Mr. Jankowski I’d work today.”
“I’m going to take lunch to the people working at the terminal. Can you help me finish and load the car then we’ll drop it off at the terminal?” She said.
“Sure,” Rich said, “but can I shower first?”
“There’s towels in the top drawer,” she said pointing to a chest of drawers. “I’ll let you alone so you can get ready.” She looked at Rich's scraggly beard. “Do you want to shave?”
“Yeah,” Rich said, “It’s been a week.”
“I’ll get a razor,” she said and left the room.
After showering and shaving Rich ran his hand across his smooth face. He looked into the mirror. “Do I look eighteen?” He thought. “I hate the pretense. I hate using another name. I hate dealing dishonestly with good people.”
Rich and Mrs. Jankowski loaded a station wagon with dining supplies and the food she had been preparing that morning. Rich was unable to keep up with her. They stopped at a grocery and picked up four cases of soft drinks.
They drove toward the terminal.
“I think Frank would like for you to stay around for awhile,” Mrs. Jankowsi said. “He is really grateful for what you did last night.”
“I didn’t do anything,” Rich said. “I did the only thing.”
“It was very brave of you,” she said.
“I’m not brave,” Rich said. “I’m pretty much a coward.”
“Being afraid is one thing being a coward is something else,” she said. “Would you like for me to get in touch with your Mom and Dad?”
The offer surprised Rich. “No,” he said. “I just want to move on if it’s all the same.”
“Have you got problems at home,” she said. “I sense that you do.”
Rich looked out the car window pretending not to hear, but something, anything, is better than a mystery to flow freely and weave though the mind to attract suspicious theories.
“I have some problems,” Rich said, “but I want to leave them where they are. No one can undo what is and what is not. I’ve got to move on. I set out to do something and I can’t get sidetracked.”
She smiled and looked passively at the road.
“I’ll never forget you folks,” Rich said.
“If you want, you can stay at our place for a while,” she said.
“I got to get to Maine before the snow flies,” Rich said.
“What if we were to buy you a bus ticket?” She proposed.
He mused with the idea for a moment. “No, I can’t do that. That’s nice for you to offer, but I don’t want to be sidetracked.”
“Well the offer is out there,” she smiled.
They unloaded the food and all the other items at the terminal.
Frank promised his employees that as long as the company was operating under emergency circumstances he would provide all the meals in addition to the overtime pay.
Everyone sat on boxes, benches and folding chairs on the loading dock just outside the office. Rich sat near an open dock door away from everyone else.
Frank hovered over his plate of food and ate like a field hand. He loved moving freight. He didn’t care whether he was the boss or the hired hand, he just liked moving things and he did it with incredible efficiency and joy. Those around him were energized by his presence. He was a motivator by example. People even began to eat like him when he sat beside them. Rich smiled at Frank. Frank smiled. In an instant he knew that Rich understood him completely.
Frank got another scoop of baked beans and sat next to Rich. “Did my wife talk to ya about stayin‘?”
“Yes sir,” Rich said. “I can’t begin to tell you what that means to me, but I started out to accomplish something. A lot of people say I don’t finish what I start. I’m going to finish this. I just have to do it.”
“I think there’s something more to this than a bike ride to Maine,” Frank said. “You got something deep going on. I sure wish I could help.”
“You already have,” Rich said.
“You mean almost getting you shot?” Frank said.
“Just watching you,” Rich said, “I’m not so sure I really understand, but I fill better for knowing you and being here.”
“Spend another night with us,” Frank said.
“You’re not going to try and talk me out of anything are you?” Rich said.
“If I did I might regret it more than you,” Frank said. “I don’t want to stand in the way of what you got your heart set on.”
“Sure, I’ll spend another night,” Rich said. “But I’m going to work for what I ate.”
“There ain’t that much freight on this dock,” Frank quipped.