Wednesday, October 21, 2009

A Retired Friend

I saw this guy I used to work with 30 years ago at a lumberyard. We met at a grocery store parking lot. He was laying in supplies. He's gotta be close to 70 now, maybe even older. He was a truck driver when I knew him. A really good one. He could take truck and trailer roll off loads to funny places where rich people wanted to build big houses. He could get the loads in to where the carpenters needed it to be and get the load off without damaging the lumber, wrecking the truck or maiming himself. He learned to drive trucks in the Army. He was a biker when I knew him, covered in tattoos. They're all blurry and faded now, like smudged soot.

This is a guy who would like to have been a lifer in the Army and volunteered to go back to run with the supply convoys on the Mekong Delta, more than a few times. Nobody ever had any complaints with him while he was doing that. After the War, the Army couldn't get rid of guys like him fast enough. I remember he had been married at least a few times when I knew him. He had some kids. None of them could be less than forty five by now. We didn't talk about any of that.

He was driving a delivery van he converted into a motor home. He has it rigged pretty nice. It's simple but has everything needed and is a lot more durable than the stuff you can buy factory made. He's night watchman at an equipment storage yard in town and does odd jobs around the place. They let him live there in his van. It's a good deal for everybody.

It was nice to see him. I'm glad he's doing OK. Sometimes guys like him don't. They have hard lives and never ask anyone for help. Turn you down if you offered. Maybe I'll see him again some day. I always stop to talk when I see an old friend


John Rudolph said...

I am finally going to break down and head to Florida to meet some of my old Forrestal shipmates from CR Div. Going down there January. Best to visit them while we're still young uns.

reddog said...

I went to a Seawolf reunion about 5 years ago, in Reno. It was in conjunction with a big national Submarine sailor's convention. That was a trip just in itself. Those old diesel guys are wild. They have an affect not unlike old outlaw motorcycle gang members.

Most of the Seawolf guys there were either lifers or guys that got out and went to work for big military contractors in the program. They weren't guys I would have picked to have a reunion with. I guess those guys don't come to reunions.

Still, it was a lot of fun. I might go to another one sometime.