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July 30, 2015
A Note from our Noble Driver
Hiya there! Have you wondered about the non-farming labor that goes into your food? Are you aware that the driver isn't the farmer? This is a good starting point, since many of you could guess correctly, but aren't sure. And what does it take to be that driver? Here's a little piece that characterizes my experience of it. Please forgive the unconventional narration; my metaphors are as brazenly non-conformist as i am.
What would you do if you didn't automatically recognize people you know? I've never been diagnosed with any disabilities or mental illnesses—and i can relate to almost all of the ones i've heard of. While i may or may not have prosopagnosia, or 'face-blindness', for example, i do rely on complex criteria to identify people and often it falls short of being a seemless thing. If i'm driving and i see a coworker from Red Earth in another vehicle at an intersection, it will take me a few moments to cobble together some of the details i observed and conclude who that was waving and calling my name out the window. Yes, that happened two weeks ago! It's something that has colored my social life as long as i can recall. I remember people mainly according to two things: context and emotion. I'm mainly focused on feelings and character to help me identify people.
What would you do if you loved people tremendously, and your empathy meter was overloaded and worn-out by ordinary interactions with others suffering the mundane sufferings of humanity?
What would you do if you were an old man at 17, a philosopher at 8, and a romantic, unrequited lover-adventurer at age 3?
You just might find yourself 32 years old, driving the Isuzu box truck for Red Earth Farm, and enjoying more of it than drives you crazy.
The parts i don't like are worth mentioning, and i'll get them out of the way now, like picking the lettuce out and eating it first so i can move on to the good stuff like fennel, brocolli, cucumbers and zebra tomatoes:
1. Making mistakes. You know, like a misdelivered box or dropping something and spilling blueberries down the path, or the most recent edition of Clumsitude 101: checking the oil on the refrigeration unit above the truck cab and leaving the dipstick out, which ends up causing a spray of oil everywhere when it comes up to temperature, and i have to stop and buy ice to keep the veggies cool because i think that death gurgle and black vomit means the reefer has blown-up. Apologies to your driveways and that motorcyclist behind me doing the James Bond slidey stunts.
2. Inconsiderate driving behaviour (my own and other people's) such as cutting so close in front of another as to leave less than 4 seconds following distance; 1.25 seconds is normal ...and rude. If you'd ever tried to stop or slow down suddenly in a bouncy box truck you would realize just how rude this is. It makes a sadistic joke out of a sign like "Baby on board!" ...would you place your toddler at the bottom of a slide where a linebacker was descending? So i slow down to increase my AIIBZ, Anti-Involuntary-Infanticide Buffer Zone. And i slow down again each time someone does it, and soon everyone behind me takes that as an invitation to zip around as if the infinitesimal time 'savings' warrants endangering themselves and their babies.
3. Being paid. Yep, that's right. I don't like that part. For more detail on that you'll need the magnifying glass that came with your compact edition of the Oxford English Dictionary, and maybe Black's Law as a reference. And you'll need to set aside an insomniac night to walk together and share life stories and solve the problems of the world.
So all that aside, what's it like for Heath out there, trucking weekly produce to 650 families?
Have you ever had a dog that loved to ride with its head out the window? I'm that dog. I get a kick out of that feeling, with the windows down and the world rushing past. Even 25 mph through a neighborhood with 'SLOW CHILDREN AT PLAY' is enough to give me that high. When i allow myself space to focus on that, it's a real gift. I just remember back to my early memories of holding the steering wheel while negotiating a long driveway, with an adult at the foot controls and not far from the wheel. Serotonin is released when we feel 'significant' or 'important,' something I get from this everyday combination of fuel, accelerator and wheel.
Time travel: So, as not much of a movie buff, i've never seen the classic time travel films. I can say, though, that it takes no small degree of mastery to arrive in Roxborough at precisely 3:07 pm every Wednesday. On the odd occasion when i don't get there until 3:47 i have the opportunity to practice a little Eastern-style acceptance ...and so does everyone who's come to depend on my supernatural ability to control the flow of traffic. Or, maybe i just threw my good sense and 8 years of professional driving out the window and drove like a maniac to prevent it from being 4:47...
Which brings me to a lovely topic: Tickets! And not the parking ticket sort... The fact that i've never gotten a moving violation has something to do with my appreciation for the flipside of my gripe #2 above: For all my complaints, North America has perhaps one of the best overall driving cultures in the world.
Let me say this again:
North America has perhaps the best overall driving cultures (plural) in the world, and i'm not talking about Mexico, LA, NYC, Nashville, Northeast Ohio, or New Jersey (where people think they're New York drivers but lack the battle-tested acumen of the F'Real NYC driver). There are many reasons for this, which i'll leave for another time, and i will admit that 'best' here is subjective, based on values like 'politeness' and 'risk-reduction'. I've driven in 48 states, half the Canadian provinces, England, Ecuador, the Dominican Republic, South Africa, and i've been a passenger in most of these and other places, and what to us is agreed to be 'rude' driving behaviour is commonplace elsewhere, even expected. I have friends with stories of Mumbai, Sao Paulo, Lagos and Shanghai...
So i do my best to uphold a high standard for communication (signaling ahead, not after the fact!) stopping at stop signs, respecting (or even abiding within?!) speed limits, and so forth. I may still get a moving violation someday, because my commitment to these values isn't strong enough to keep me 100% within the lines and limits, but unlike the majority of people (everyone thinks he/she is a better-than-average driver) i have a couple of verifiable stats to back me up. Do you? Have you thought about hopping over to the dead-end, but very interesting career of driving? It's in high demand. Ask the Farmer. See you out there!
~ Heath E Synnestvedt