by Bridget Klaasen, 04/15/2020, Suttons Bay, Mi
My neighbor drives a red pick-up truck that he bought when he was let go from his last job, “That’s OK,” he said, “I told the boss I was thinking about going out on my own, anyway,” Truth is, what he was thinking about was buying a truck and he saw 24 weeks of unemployment and a brand new truck as a golden opportunity, “Tax free,” he bragged and wagged a yellow finger as he was known as the only worker around who could smoke a cigarette and work a shovel at the same time. It was regarded as a sight to see.
The truck now has rust along both wheel wells, brought on not by hard work but by plain old age. It has an amber warning light on the roof that he flashes when he needs to feel like CEO of his own destiny. Today, I am walking my dog and wearing a red mask that my friend made. It is the same color as his truck. It is also the same color as the back end of a baboon, which, the way he sits in his truck, makes him look like the front end of a baboon and that is a connection I like very much. He stops his truck in the middle of the road, straddling the center line, and backs up hill to talk to me. He rolls his window down and I step back to maintain 6 feel distance.
“Don’t worry, I got the light on. I can drive any way I want when I have that on,” he said, thumb up and hanging out the window. I pointed to my mask and he said,
“I figure if I’m gonna get it, I’m gonna get it.”
He said if anyone is gonna get it, it would be the wife because “she gets everything.” She got cancer twice and had to have a heart valve put in once, adding “and that was open heart surgery.” He told me he and the wife just got back from Mexico and they probably should have stayed right there on the beach. I asked if they were in quarantine and he said,
“Kinda sorta,” and he pulled away.
He spends most of his days driving around the neighborhood stopping at pole barns. He stops to watch sap boiled into syrup and trees chipped into mulch. He stops whenever he hears a chain saw or a log splitter or a leaf blower, places where men are looking for a reason to take a break. He tells them he is on his way to the party store and asks if they need anything, which means beer, and they say sure if you’re offerin’ and he says sure if you’re buyin’ and he holds back a couple for himself and hands the rest over.
He does this all day long.
He figures if he is gonna get it, he is gonna get it.