I worked in a warehouse summers to help pay for college. It was a sprawling place filled with pallets and crates full of everything you can imagine. Giant trucks with long trailers pulled in and out all day bringing and taking loads. There I met and became friends with Isaiah, a young black man. He worked full time, showing the muscles and toughness of that work. This was his life.
After work, we would share a beer at a bar nearby, where truckers parked their big rigs and mixed with workers from the warehouse district. Isaiah liked the place and the tales he heard from the truckers about their travels.
We were from different worlds. Isaiah from the hard scrabble central district where he had a small apartment. Myself from a comfortable middle class family and college life. Still we struck a chord. Maybe it was the hard-sweat work we shared in the warehouse that left you spent at the end of the day. He told me one time he respected how I worked, “not like most part timers.”
I knew not what future I would take after college. Isaiah, though, was sure what he would do someday. He wanted to get a big rig and travel the ribbons of pavement to see all the country. Every detail had been worked-out in his mind. How much it would cost to buy a used 18-wheeler. How he would make the it look artful and grand. How he would bring back road tales of his own someday. I listened to his dreams, played to a back drop of bar sounds and the rough chatter of truck drivers. His dreams seemed far away to me, but I never told him that.
The second summer I worked there, Isaiah was not to be found. No one seemed to know what happened to him. All summer I wondered if he had found his dream or what fate might have befallen him.
Later in life as business took me across country, I would occasionally see a big rig parked that showed a special road art. I always pulled over and waited for a while. Watching to see if Isaiah might climb down from the cab, so I could hear his tales.
Route 601, Carolinas
Grand Avenue, AZ
Airport Way, Seattle
Grand Ave, AZ