’73 Pickup

…I had no idea what I was getting into I think as I wipe a gritty arm across my brow and adjust the hard hat; the sun continues its slow climb in the cloudless sky. The shovel is heavy in my hands long since calloused and toughened by the monotony that is squaring up footers in the red clay of the Carolinas. The dust slowly eddies and whirls in the shadeless expanse with only the temptation of a breeze. In the distance the universal signal for break is given, God how long had it taken to figure that one out. I no longer bother trying to shake the dust off my jeans as I slide into my ’73 pickup with a quick prayer that the linkage holds I bounce out of the lot. As I crank the window manufacturing a breeze the sweat starts to dry on my face. The work is as simple as it is strenuous, but it has worked the soft out of me this summer. A couple of Hardees cheeseburgers and an annoyingly sweet tea later I head back. The career laborers are still propped in the far corner under the only tree left, probably munching on baloney and cheese and smoking an endless stream of Marlboros. I am sure they are retelling the same expansive lies about the weekend’s exploits I have heard so many times before. I steer clear of their chatter mostly cause I have nothing to add and at 18 my stories can’t possibly compare. I wonder as I walk back to my shovel if they had dreams and aspirations they left behind or is this the path they chose. I have plans of course, mountains to climb, challenges to conquer. I hustle out hoping to trade my shovel for the torch and an opportunity to cut and tie some rebar. It doesn’t happen often but occasionally they will take pity on me, the work is hot and the steel is heavy but there is something exciting about firing up the acetylene torch, something grown up. While my buddies are mowing lawns or any other number of mundane teenage summer jobs I am making some real money and I get to use the torch! The afternoon starts to fade and quitting time approaches. I hit the highway trying to coax something other than country out of the truck’s old AM radio. The wind swirls the dust around my feet, the summer is passing and the start of college approaches, already I feel a tug upon my soul a need for new experiences, a desire to prove myself in the real world. More than anything I have begun to grow up shedding the cocoon of youth and stretching, preparing, yearning for something new…



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