The Id and The Odyssey; Episode 23
At five o’clock Frank announced over the intercom for everybody t a gather at the door leading to the office. Frank stood on a bench. He waited for everyone huddle close. There were about 30 dock workers, drivers, and office workers. He asked if anyone was missing. “I am,” said one worker. Everybody laughed.
Frank cleared his throat and held out his hands to quiet everybody. “If I should die tomorrow my brother Pete would take over, and he should die the next day Sam would take over. Now if Pete takes over you’ll probably kill him anyway just to get Sam.” Laughter broke out. “What I’m sayin’ is this, The future is uncertain. A union might be able to make it more certain. I’ve told you all from day one, the day the majority wants a union is the day we get a union. I’ve given the union permission to come on my property and talk to you for two hours and then you vote. I don’t care what the vote is, but we will go by the contract. That changes nothing about how I feel about you or what I will do for you. As to the men that walked out they got jobs like nothing happened and nobody treats them badly. They’ve worked hard and got good records.”
“Do we have to go to the meeting?” One man asked.
Frank pressed his lips, “It’s mandatory.”
“What if we get sick?” One man said.
“Look if you’re not cooperative they’ll think that I’m up to something funny,” Frank said. “Go, listen, and vote.” He paused carefully looking at everybody. “Let’s take the rest of the night off. We’re all a little tired.”
The men murmured.
“Before you all go home I just want to say one more thing. The last two days we had a young man working here named Joe Deacon. Hold your hand up Joe. Joe slept in the office last night when two former employees climbed through the back fence. They had two five gallon cans of gasoline, a crowbar, and a 38. They took two shots at Joe as he tried to get away from them. If Joe would not have risked his life and took the time to call me those two would have robbed the cash I had in the office and used the gasoline to set this place on fire. We’d all been screwed. Joe’s just passin’ through, but I’m sure we want to wish him well. There ain’t anything I could say that would be enough. Your folks must be pretty proud of you.”
Frank stepped down from the bench and everybody exceedingly thanked Joe.
Rich thought how wrong they were. “They don’t really know me. If they saw how I gave up on so many things and disappointed so many people they would certainly take back everything. This was a fluke. I was a coward running for my life and running away from life.”
Frank drove Rich to his home with his bike and gear in the trunk.
“You like pizza?” Frank said.
“Yeah,” Rich said.
“There’s dumb Pollocks and smart Pollocks. I’m a smart one,” Frank said seriously and then smiled broadly. “I married an Italian.” He laughed. “Maybe where you’re from it means nothing, but in the city and on the east coast there’s old grudges and suspicions and ways. Everybody is an individual, but the word is Italian’s love everybody, German’s hate everybody, Irish owe everybody, Jews loan to everybody, and Pollocks will work for them all.”
“The pizza, home made.” Frank said. “You won’t find it this good in any restaurant. Your Mom a good cook?”
“Tryin’ to get me talk about home, huh?” Rich said.
“She’s not so good,” Rich said.
“Kind of meat and potatoes stuff,” Frank said. “Not too spicy.”
“That’s it,” Rich said.
“You’re looking for spice aren’t you?” Frank said.
“Yeah, yeah,” Rich said. “I guess you could say that. I never thought of it that way.”