Imagine yourself in a multiplex movie theater. Curiously, no walls separate the half-dozen theaters that form the multiplex. Miraculously, you are watching six different screens all at once, thoroughly understanding and enjoying every scene, word, character.
Welcome to ADHD.
[You in the Real World, be sure to click on the red underlined hyperlinks!]
With all due respect, says Screen Two, I really do not think you should use that word.
I stop typing. “Why? What’s the problem?”
Some people are sensitive to four-letter words.
“Like ‘work’ and ‘debt’?”
Laugh if you want, Boss, adds Four, but Two’s right this time.
“This time”? Two repeats. What do you mean by that?
“Sorry, guys. You’re overruled. Even as you protest, I’m typing the word.”
Nice work, grumbles Five. Just kissed our readers adios.
Five, you speak Spanish? gasps Three.
“Feel better if I typed ‘winter’ instead?
Now you’ve done it, cautions One. “Snow” is bad enough, but it can be considered a singular event, a one-time occurrence. “Winter,” on the other hand, suggests an entire series of seasonal events involving “snow.”
Forget ’em, Black, growls Six. I’ve got the skis waxed.
“No offense, Six, but this is Ohio.”
“Send the waxed skis to cousin Kenny and his sibs in snow-socked South Dakota. Send flare guns and generators, too.”
Two speaks back up. Why are you putting such objectionable words in this week’s column? What could you possibly be thinking?
“Thinking about trucks. So I’m writing about trucks.”
All six screens look at one another in surprise: Isn’t this column about snow? Five’s voice rises above the others’ whispers. No clue. He seemed fine to me.
“I want to make it clear: There are many good truck drivers out there,” I say, forging ahead. “This is not about them.”
How are truck drivers tied to snow? wonders Four.
“Intimately. This season is very hard on those operating tractor-trailers –”
Ah, you mean 18-wheelers? queries Three.
“ – because those operating cars act as if roads are dry, braking distances are short, and deaths are unheard of when big rigs jackknife.”
True, agrees One. ’Tis the season, indeed.
Three hums, There’s no business like snow business.
“So if driving conditions already are tough, guys, how much worse will things get when the drivers themselves are less than prime?”
My far-off look signals screens to roll the evidence tapes supporting my point. First video comes from Three….
The woman walks into my truck-driver training school office. “Gonna drive truck!” she says, so directly it sounds spiteful. “Need for that to happen, mister.”
I pose the standard questions about her health, criminal and driving background. She grows increasingly heated –
Hostile! whispers Two.
– in her responses, though the questions aren’t particularly probing and certainly are not designed to elicit such anger. Prompted by my screens, I finally cease the questions altogether and just plain ask her, “Why do you want to drive tractor-trailers?”
Shaking off that nightmare, I ask Five to play his visual.
“Hey, buddy,” says the man staggering in front of me, though we both stand in place. “Go ahead and sign me up. Ah’d like to get me a CLD.”
“A C.D.L.?” I correct. “Commercial driver’s license?”
“Yeah, thass it,” he says, then burps with intensity and unpleasantry. “Thass what Ah want.” The air reeks so strongly of alcohol I may caution co-workers against using phones lest tiny electronic sparks blow us to kingdom come.
“Your accent suggests you’re not from anywhere near Ohio. Which state’s license do you now have?”
“Ain’t got one. Cops done took it from me when they give me mah fifth D.U.I.”
So why are you at a truck driving school? asks Four through my lips.
The man’s expression suggests I, a blithering idiot, run amok through his dreams. “Because, y’all” – his powerful burp tips him backward – “Ah done figured that if Ah cain’t drive me a cahr, Ah’ll drive me a truck!”
Please, begs Three, keep this beer keg off the road!
Right there and then, I promise the screens I’ll block unworthy drivers from operating 18-wheelers.
We want one more thing, they reply. Ask the general public to be sensible this winter – cut the Big Rig Boys some slack. Truckers work hard to keep us safe. Keep them safe, too.
“Done!” (Don’t let me lie to my screens, folks.)
Postscript: Back in July I wrote about my mishap with an equally ill-tempered rancher and horse, both of whom let me know I never would be a real bronc-bustin’ cowboy.
But both are wrong, as confirmed by another ill-tempered fellow (’tis the season, repeats Screen One, winking) with whom I worked last week. He is sure I am a cowboy. I know he is sure because I upset him unduly and he spits out –
Sanitized version, directs Two.
“Drop dead, Blackie. Drop dead, you and the horse you rode in on.”
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