The Old Man and the Delivery Truck - by Ernest Hemingway

Thu, 04/07/2022 - 4:45pm

John and I were unloading a delivery into the shed on a frigid January morning. About halfway through, we heard some hard, heavy horn honking coming from down the hill.

How's that for alliteration?

Apparently, it was an Angry Old Man (AOM) in a late-model Audi with Connecticut plates. His wife in the passenger seat looked like she had just drunk six bottles of lime juice on a dare.

John and I both made motions for him to pass around the truck as it was a frigid January morn in Boothbay Harbor with absolutely no traffic. But the AOM deigned to blast his horn and wave his hands at us like a deranged maniac.

Eventually, I walked over to the driver's side with a furious John in tow. The AOM rolled his window down a slit and leveled a bevy of unintelligible swears and not-at-all-good-things-to-say at us. Then we saw it- a Central Maine Power truck had it's rack lights on and was blocking the other lane. The driver was nowhere to be seen.

I said through his foggy, spittle-covered window slit that if he just turned around and made a right, he'd end up on Townsend Ave. He cursed me and screeched, "THAT ROAD IS ONE-WAY!!!!"

John is an old Mainer with a low tolerance for bullcrap. He yelled back through the slit, "JEEZUM H. CROIST. BUT IT'S GOIN' THE RIGHT WAY! NOW GET YAH HAND OFF THAT DAM HORN OR I'LL RUN YOU OUT LIKE A GUPPY THROUGH A SCUPPAH!" (Edited Version).

Of course the AOM had no idea what John was saying, but he heard it as an ass-whipping coming his way. "I'M CALLING 911!!!" he screamed through his window slit. His wife nervously fingered the door locks in case she had to abandon her husband and flee.

"YES, YES! Please, please, please call 911!" I yelled back at him through his slit, "My life needs some entertainment. Frivolously calling 911 for the equivalent of a McNugget will give me a great video and you a felony!" Then I let loose a demented laugh. I dug my phone out of my back pocket and pretended to film him.

The AOM wasn't totally stupid or out of his wits. He put his phone away and hit the horn again with renewed energy.

"Just turn around and make a right!" I shouted at him one last time, making futile motions with my arms. John and I went back to offloading the order. John had a schedule to keep. I had a shop to run.

We finished and John brought his dolly around and slowly- ever so slowly- loaded it into the back of his truck. He came in to use the bathroom. We chatted blithely as the AOM continued to lay on his horn and steam his car up with anger.

Then I saw the AOM turn around and make a right on Commercial Street like I'd been begging him to for the last forty minutes.

"Come on!" I said to John. We ran out to the corner in front of the shop and waved with huge smiles as he and his prune-faced wife drove by.

Free at last.

-Don (Not a Dog)


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