Saturday, March 2, 2013
I’m so mad I can’t even finish any of my expletives. “Mother—,God—,Sonofa—” Then it trails into a cacophonic scrape, up from the top of my lungs, pushing against throat the whole way up.”Uuuuggghhhhh!” An inhuman noise, a sound from the Neanderthals stretched over millions of years. It’s the sound of a five gallon bucket of hummus falling over in the back of my truck. I’m always in a hurry; I can’t help it, the deliveries all have deadlines, even when I have all the time I need, I’m in a hurry. I want to get past all the other damn cars. I don’t want to wait while this guy takes a left up here. This old guy is taking way too long; I want to rear-end him for breaking when there’s no one there. That lady went right through that four-way stop. I want to hold back the impulse to break and let her run into me so that everyone will say that I had the right-of-way. I want to get around all of this, despite the fact that I know I will never get out of it. It’s like having a huge meal in front of you and trying to eat faster so you won’t get full. Racing through traffic doesn’t help anything. In the city, there is going to be traffic and even when you get around some of it, there’s going to be more. Nonetheless, I try to drive past it hoping that at least it will thin out a little. I don’t drive like a lunatic, in fact, by the city’s standards, I drive in a fairly mild way. I don’t cut people off, very often and I don’t floor the pedal when I get mad. I don’t even honk the horn, not that it would do any good. I only go a little fast sometimes and usually this doesn’t upset anything, but you’ve got to remember that my job is to transport food and I’ve got boxes of 100 dollar platters stacked up in the back of the truck. With every sudden depression of the gas they go sliding toward the back. If I break on a hill they come bearing down on me. All day long the food in the back of my truck is sloshing back and forth, usually with no ill effect. If the food sloshes with consistency it’s fine. If suddenly there should be a quick gravitational pull on it from one direction or the other, the food may be salvageable. If someone slams on their breaks in front of me, the food is probably not going to be in a condition to fetch its high price tag. When you are driving fast it’s difficult to keep gravity from infringing too harshly on the food in the back of the truck. The force can be somewhat subdued by boxes and with anything that could be used as padding. Sometimes, it seems to work just as well to leave things up to chance. What you may have carefully packed could tip over while the order you tossed on the bed of the truck had a center of gravity low enough to stay put. I try to consider how I’m packing everything, but there’s usually way too much on my mind. I’m lucky if everything makes it into the truck regardless of where it is. Sometimes, I forget to pack things. Sometimes, I forget to feed the meter, or the wheels might not be curbed. The only time I ever owned a car was for about three months in high school. I have no idea what I’m doing with this job. I enjoy the work though. After my last job working as a traveling actor, it’s nice to work alone. I always wanted to be a delivery boy, ever since the first Ninja Turtles movie wherein the turtles befriend a pizza delivery boy. I don’t expect to meet the Ninja Turtles delivering Mediterranean food, but maybe I’ll meet their Middle Eastern equivalent, the Morphed Marrakech Monkeys or something. Driving around, listening to music, however, doesn’t have the same appeal it did when I was 14. I cannot seem to listen to any CD more than 20 times and when I began to notice what radio stations play what song at what time, I started listening to NPR. So, in addition to driving too fast I’m also arguing with the radio all the time. I guess the arguing would be OK, but I tend to gesture a lot when I argue so my hands are very often leaping off the steering wheel, flapping around the radio and generally not anywhere near ten and two. It’s Saturday, I had to turn around before doing my delivery and drive across town because I forgot to drop off a five gallon bucket of hummus. I’m arguing with Lach Mi Sing (I’m spelling that phonetically) on the radio, going down a hill and I’m in a hurry. It’s Saturday so everyone else is out kind of putting around and getting mad at anyone who isn’t putting around, especially in the neighborhood where the restaurant is where no one ever seems to work anyway. The street is narrow and there’s unbridled parking on either side. Cars stop in the middle of the street when they hear a car freeing up a parking space three blocks away. If the parking spot that’s opening up is anywhere nearby five cars will suddenly redirect from wherever they are on the street and charge to this spot. It’s interesting to watch their faces, while they gun for the spot they look like they have the whiney faces of petulant children, but as soon as they move into a position from which they are assured the spot their faces resume the placid look of Saturday and they gently ease the car into the spot. A guy seems about to leave his spot down the hill, since he’s not moving I assume that he’s waiting for me to go by so he can reposition his car. I slow down, but not enough. Just as I’m about to pass the inattentive slob, he pulls right out in front of me. I slam on the breaks and while my reaction prevents the cars crashing it causes another crash as the five-gallon bucket of hummus flops the hell over in the back. While you might think that hummus is delicious when you’re eating it, when five gallons of it are draining out of a bucket all over your car it’s nothing but stinky goop. That’s right. It’s a damn smelly goop. From my standpoint, it wouldn’t have been much worse if a bag of medical waste exploded back there. “God—,mother—,UUUUUGGGHHHHH!” The guy pulling out of the spot smiles at me in such an idiotic way I have no idea what message he could be trying to convey. He looks at me like he’s just farted and I’m the only other one that noticed. Before he’s done driving away, I’m pulled over, with my hazard lights on, trying desperately to upright the bucket in the back of the truck. Oh, god, it’s all over the seats, it’s all over my order, it’s oozed down under the console, the damn smelly goop is everywhere! I’m able to keep about 1/3 or it from globbing out of the bucket. I feel like hurdling the accursed bucket into the street, but I keep my cool long enough to call my boss and make an ass out of myself by explaining what just happened to the hummus that he could’ve sold for hundreds of dollars. He tells me just to bring over what’s left. As I’m driving to deliver the remains of the hummus, I’m so angry that I keep unconsciously pushing down on the accelerator and grinding my teeth. The back of the truck is awash in hummus. I’m afraid to look back there, but I can smell it. That starchy garlicky smell reminds me of something that’s gone bad sitting in the back of the refrigerator, some abysmal Tupperware horror. As I drive faster, the hummus becomes more redolent, choking out the fresh air with its mephitic swells. When I stop to deliver the dumped hummus bucket, it doesn’t seem so bad. Yeah, it’s all over the car, but it looks like the bucket’s still about half-full. At least I managed to deliver something. I was worried that in addition to the mess I was going to have to drive across town to deliver an empty bucket. My disappointment resurges when I try to wipe some of the hummus off the bucket, not even that much, and end up with the stuff smeared all over my hand. It’s like glue and cottage cheese mixed together. It adheres to my pores, it crawls up under my nails and I’ve barely touched the stuff. There’s a huge pool of the stuff in the back of the truck. Its seeping under the front seat where the seat connects to the floor in these depressions. The hummus has pooled in these depressions and I know that I’m not going to be able to get it out of there without taking the damn seats out. The only way I can think to clean this stuff out is to take a fire hose to the interior of the car. I can’t think about this much though; I’ve got to get back to the delivery I started before all this hummus nonsense came up. When I get there, I’ve got to spend about another fifteen minutes scraping the hummus off the bags the order is tied up in. Luckily, everything is in bags, if not, I probably would’ve had to throw out the whole order. I scrape off enough of the hummus so that it won’t drip everywhere and when I do the delivery, I take the bags off as soon as possible and crumble them up before the customers can see that everything is covered is a maize-yellow garlicky funk. When the delivery is finished, I drive back to the restaurant with my head out the window. The sun has hit the hummus now and the smell is almost a tangible thing, like gravy floating through the air in tiny particles. I get a bowl, some water and a bunch of rags from the kitchen. None of it is any good. The water rolls right off the stuff without thinning it out, one swipe with the rags and somehow I’ve got hummus behind my ears; you so much as look at the stuff and it gets everywhere. Because it’s a goop, it has a very low rate of absorption. It’s not like a liquid that the rags would absorb, but neither is it like a solid that could just be picked up. It spreads out like pancake batter on a hot pan, instantly coating and sticking to everything. Using the rad to clean it is like using a scrap of wallpaper to clean wet paint. Because I am in front of the restaurant, and the truck has the restaurant’s logos all over it, everyone who goes by knows what happened; again, it’s Saturday and there’s lots of people out walking around. Almost everyone that passes me makes some kind of comment like “whoa, hummus spill,” or “wish I had some falafel for that.” Actually no one made that last comment. I may have laughed at that. The comments were all so mundane, that I couldn’t tell if they were supposed to be sympathetic or if everyone was making fun of me. The people making these comments didn’t seem to know either. They just said meaningless things as they walked by and I smeared the goop around in my car. I cleaned it up as best as I could, and luckily no one mentioned the incident again. I still haven’t forgotten it though. I couldn’t possibly. Every morning I punch in and get the car, hoping that the smell of rotting hummus somewhere under the seats hasn’t gotten any worse. Unfortunately, it always has.