But he did drive away…
I move trailers, and I work alone. Not a hundred percent alone; I pick them up and drop them off at staffed locations, and I sometimes encounter folks who want to "be helpers," but mostly, I work alone, and it seems to work quite well for me. I climb into the truck at 7:30 AM, I start a little earlier than the aforementioned staff; so usually at least once a day, I get to pick up my first one before anyone else arrives to start their workday.
As I've grown more experienced, gotten more practice at what I do, I've been less worn-out and grunged-over at the end of the day -- I don't get home dying to get in the shower every day like I did those first few weeks, and it's nice to be able to just take a shower in the morning because I feel better through the day that way. Sometimes on Saturdays, I'm a little less up-tight about that whole morning shower thing. Like I said, I work alone. Heh. Sometimes on Saturdays, I just get out of bed, put my bra, jeans, and shoes back on, and stumble out the door to grab breakfast on the way in; then I work the day thinking about how great it'll be to take a shower and go out to dinner with clean hair…
That's pretty much what I did last weekend; I came home Friday night still looking decent enough to go have dinner. I got up Saturday morning and went back to work with previous-day-hair and clothes, something I certainly wouldn't do if I were working in an office or going anywhere near "out in ordinary public." For what it's worth, I don't usually smell bad at the end of the first day, but at the end of the second, hoo-boy…
Anyway, the incident I can't get out of my mind happened early on a Saturday morning, so I wasn't smelly yet.
I'm almost always alone in my high-ridin' three-quarter-ton pickup, in the morning (or sometimes the night before), I get a list of places that need trailers. I show up with an empty one, find a place to park it, and unhook from it. Then I back the truck up to the full trailer; often I can get it lined up in one or two tries, sometimes I have to move the truck just a little tiny bit more to get the ball under the trailer. Even though this truck sits much higher off the ground than the half-ton I learned with, I can still feel where it needs to go, I can still keep my left foot on the ground and use my right one to work the pedals, right hand on the wheel, left hand securely on the door handle so I don't wipeout and end up on the ground if something slips or goes wrong. Nothing has gone wrong yet, with God's Grace, even though I can't sit my right hip in the seat like I did with the old Ford back in the day. After I hook onto the full trailer, I pull it away from its spot and find a place to park it, unhook, move the truck, hook the empty trailer back on, back it into the spot where the full one was, then unhook, re-hook to the full one, and haul it away.
So, among those trailer parking steps, which are less than important to this story, I was backing the ball of the truck under the hitch of the full trailer when I saw a red Monte Carlo pull into the parking lot across the street. I don't remember exactly what the business is, but it's a big metal building with a gravel lot next to a big power station, probably manufacturing of some sort, and there were not any workers there at seven-something on a Saturday morning. He drove in there at about the moment I had stopped the truck to get out and see if I'd landed in the right spot on the first try, I was in the driver's seat facing that direction with the car off to my right just a little ways, so I watched for a minute, kinda like an "alert neighbor," because the business was not open. The car stopped, the trunk popped, and the driver's door swung open. I'm not entirely sure what year the red Monte Carlo was, but it was the newer bodystyle, the front-wheel-drive variety of the last few years, not the dirt racin' kind. It had pulled straight in, with the taillights facing me, and a guy got out. He was one of those guys who's probably a small or medium, but he's wearing a 3X white T-shirt with basketball shorts and tall white socks and those velcro slides like for taking showers in places where you're scared to put your bare feet. I watched him get out and go to the trunk, he flipped a green bag over, it kinda looked like one of those enviro-friendly reusable grocery bags. He rooted around in the trunk a little more, then closed it.
I thought through a few situations where maybe I should've been a little more suspicious; the boyfriend who "met someone," the friend who asked me for a "payday loan" in spite of making about five times the money I do, the salesman who reached for my hands and arms way too many times… I got out of my truck and dashed back to peek at the ball and hitch, it wasn't quite there yet, so I backed the truck up just a bit. As i put it in park, he was walking toward me. Out of the parking lot, across a four-lane, undivided street, through the gate, down the driveway, and up to my truck. I wondered if maybe I should've stayed inside and locked the doors.
I keep a hunting knife between my seat and the console in the Mark VIII. I keep the lugwrench under my seat in the SHO. In the seat of my work truck, eh, I have two phones and that's about it. I can't use my iPhone with my work gloves on, and I'm not gonna let some jerk have a chance at stealing my iPhone anyway. I grabbed my work phone (remember flip phones?) and decide not to punch in 9-1-1 just yet; I figured I'd just be ready to flip it open. My eyes landed on the handle of the rake behind my toolbox, so I tossed the phone to my left hand and made sure my right hand landed on the rake. Not a leaf rake, but a more serious steel rake, like for gravel or heavier stuff like that.
He said the car ran out of gas and asked if I had a gas can.
I have a gas can, filled from the City's pumps, but something just seemed suspicious. I lied. "Nah man, sorry, just the ol' work truck, I don't have anything but the trailer tools." Something about the whole deal just didn't feel right.
In all honesty, I only entertain vivid fantasies of beating wrongdoers to bloody near-death; even when I have weight advantage, I most likely don't have any real skills. I'm probably not worth a shit in a scrap, except that I could most likely really keep that rake moving and spinning fast enough to keep somebody away from the sharp parts and therefore away from me. Where it'd go from there, I really don't know, but there I was, he walked up and found me behind a half-open truck door, phone in one hand, rake handle in the other, yesterday's hair may have been a little wild, and yesterday's jeans probably showed the roughness of shoving trailers that last inch or two with my knees. I am not a small woman, but I hope to think I wear it well, I carry enough weight to grab the tongue of the trailer and lean back and make it scoot over a couple inches to land on the ball. I am not exactly "stacked," I'm more of a "sturdy." I've fought hard for every crumb of self-confidence I've got, I know deep-down that I am really only "cute" to a limited target audience.
I'll never know why he stopped and dug in the trunk or why he walked all that way across that wide street to approach me, but I do know that his car was not out of gas.
After I didn't produce a gas can, he went right back across the street, jogging in those stupid velcro slides. He got in the car, drove away, and was gone.
I have no idea what just happened. Did I foil a robbery attempt? There's no cash handled at any of these worksites, unless the folks who work there are holdin' a little lunch money. There's no cash in the truck except for my own purse, which I left locked in the trunk of my car the first few weeks I had this job. Could he have been looking to see what might be easily stolen, now or later on? Could it have been a rape situation? Am I that visibly female across four lanes of street and through a yard and over to the other side of a truck? Did I maybe "not look that enticing" once he got over there close enough to see me? Did he abandon whichever idea because I am butch enough to kick his ass? Any of those ideas might seem mean-spirited because I don't know why he came over to me, but I do know that he damn sure did not need a gas can, 'cause he drove away as soon as he walked back over there and closed the car door!
I still love my job, but I think I'll start putting that hunting knife in my bag so it stays in the truck with me instead of leaving it in my car.