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Work Weird

Patrick leaned against the inspector's big white truck. It was a Chevy with an extended bed and cab. "I sold Bruce this truck. I got it from this place where I used to work in Nevada, a place that grew onions. They sprayed the ground there with sulfuric acid. The acid worked against the alkaline salts in the the ground and made the soil so stuff would grow." 

Patrick patted the truck as he said. "This was a spray truck. It had big tanks of acid in back, and spraying equipment that folded down off the back." Patrick pointed out the holes where the equipment used to be mounted. 

"This truck gets used for some pretty interesting purposes. Have you seen the alternators in this thing?" I said. "Bruce even calls himself a 'Ham-ster' look at the bumper-sticker."

"Yea, Bruce loves his radios. Six alternators to power that thing." Patrick pointed at a large cylindrical antenna mounted to the radio within the tool box in back of the truck."

"He's almost as crazy as a guy who used to ride in the truck with me." Patrick's eyes crinkled up into a smile as he thought.

"One day the onion growing outfit needed a few temps, so they contacted a place like Labor Ready, a temp agency and got five guys for the day, to dig a ditch. They showed up at 5 am. There were four lazy dudes that weren't worth anything, and one guy with tinfoil all over his head who was bat-shit crazy, but worked like a dog. He did what you told him, and was alright, aside from being totally the weirdest dude I've ever met. The day ended and the guys went home. 

"Well, at 5 am the next day, the crazy dude was there, shovel in hand 'Where do I dig now boss?' 'We didn't hire you today, just yesterday.' 'I just need to finish up,' 'We're not paying you.' 'Where do I dig?' 'Over there.' and he did. He worked all day. He talked to aliens all day, but he worked all day. 

"One of the old guys that didn't really work anymore, but didn't not work, took Tommy under his wing, made sure he had lunch, and at the end of the day he slipped the guy five bucks and brought him down to the store to get a beer and a TV dinner. Tommy wandered off after he ate. 

"At five the next morning Tommy was ready to work again, and the ol' feller found him some work. He worked it out so that Tommy could stay in an old farmhouse that had been abandoned. They hooked the water and electricity back up to it. Tommy would show up for work every morning at five, and the old guy found stuff for him to do all day, and at the end of the day he'd slip Tommy five bucks and Tommy would drive one of the work trucks to the store and get himself a beer and a TV diner and go home. He would microwave the TV diner, eat it, and put the tray back into the box and stack it with the others in the unused rooms of the house. The empty TV dinner boxes protected him from transmissions and made him safe. Over the years the rooms filled floor to ceiling with these TV dinner boxes.

"One morning Tommy didn't show up for work. The old man went to the house to look for him, and he had fallen asleep for the last time. 

"The house stunk so bad it made my eyes water to go near it. The owners donated it to the fire department for a training burn, and they let me spray accelerant on it. You could smell the stench of the house through the accelerant, and I puked. There has never been a fouler smell."

"I'm glad Tommy lived like that, rather than in an institution, or on the street." I said.

"Yea, maybe." Patrick softly punched the side of the white truck and we wandered off to do our various tasks.

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