I worked on Wednesday, even though I was up til midnight (couldn't fall asleep; thoughts from the past racing through my mind, -thinking about things that happened years ago that still bug me- and that somehow wouldn't stop; even though my alarm was set for 3:36am; that happens a lot, worrying about not getting enough sleep instead of falling asleep.)
I got to the pool and the new dispatcher asked me if I wanted to go "gunslinging."
Everytime they yell that they need gunslingers, the whole crowd backs away from the window and words like "hell no" can be heard amongst them. Apparently nobody wanted to go gunslinging. He yelled "(for me)!," and I went up to the window. He asked me if I wanted to go gunslinging and I thought about how I always wanted to try it, and how in the past, things that other people couldn't handle just turned out to be just plain hard work. I told him yes.
They sent me to the van, where there were 3 large black men already sitting there in the bright green gunslinging vests. One of them looked at me and asked me if I was going to Waste Systems. I said yes. He let out a chuckle.
We got to the place and pulled into the parking lot. One of the black men asked me if I was "scared." I honestly said "A little."
Gunslinging is riding on the back of a trash truck, jumping off, throwing people's trash into the truck and mashing the button so that the "hopper" crushes it, then jumping back on and going to the next, and the next, and the next house, untill sometime before the sun goes down, everybody's trash is in the truck. It can wear you out, they say. (after it rains they can be full of water and weigh 100 pounds) We used to call them rubbish men; used to make fun of them as being the epitome of the lowest form of laborer. "..Better study hard in school, or you'll wind up a rubbish man.."
So, I got there and they assigned me a driver named Cory.
We left and went out to a place in Atlantic Beach. He drove and I jumped out and threw the 'yard trash' into the back of the truck.
"Watch out for snakes!"Wednesday is yard trash day, and so, all the trash consisted of the products of yard work; limbs, clippings, piles of plants that looked like they were from another planet; thorns, spiders, lizards..but not snakes.
"Watch out for snakes," said Cory.
"Snakes aren't going to move into a pile of brush that was just layed there recently, I know snakes," I said.
"Watch out for snakes anyways."
The worst was a lemon tree that had died and been set in front of a house. The man was waiting there for us so he could warn me about the thorns; talk about thorns -like the talons on an eagle - that tree got me and I carry the scab to this day, course it was only yesterday... I threw the trash as energetically as I could. My side only hurt when I twisted a certain way. We finished early.
The man on the radio called and asked Cory how we were doing. He said that we were finished. The man on the radio said that, then, we did good. Cory said that if he had money he would have bought me lunch, because I worked "real good." He said that his back was hurting and that he usually jumped out and helped a lot more, but that I did most of it. He shook my hand and asked me what my name was before I got out, back at the place. They gave me eight hours, even though it took four.
The labor pool was "down a van," and said they couldn't pick me up for an hour, so I walked back, three miles to the pool and got my check.
I guess my legend grows now, as the big black men will say "He went gunslinging, did good."
"For real? that skinny whiteboy? No!"
"Yeah, man..ran Cory's route, they were done by noontime!"
"For real? No way"
"Word up, nigga!" (they really talk like that)
So that was my experience as a gunslinger, the word itself strikes fear into the labor pool. I had avoided it, and it was the one job that I ever turned down at the pool. But, that was when they offered it to me a couple days after being hit by the car, when I couldn't even sit up to go to the bathroom when I woke up, and had to use a bottle. My side had been better. I sneezed on the walk back to the pool (probably got a whiff of pollen or something) and it was sore but didn't seize up into a cramp like it had been doing when I coughed or sneezed.
This morning was a different story. I guess being a hero and gunslinging wasn't good for cracked ribs, because this morning I had taken a step back in recovery, but only back to how it was a week ago. So, I decided to come downtown and give plasma for 20 bucks and then to try to make another 30 or so with the guitar tonight. We are living on the edge and a broken string could beach us like musical whales, but, I could be ready to go tommorow morning, back to the pool, maybe even go gunslinging...and so that is where it is at now.
Temperatures in the low 80's all week, high 60's at night. I have a bunch of things to do online, so I'll go do them now. Larry wants me to download a bunch of sheetmusic and lyrics. I haven't touched my blog in two weeks, but I plan to post something about being a street musician, a top 20 songs list perhaps. I noticed that nobody answered my last mail, but I guess that means that you all are busy and productive. Hope you are all well, first day of summer is coming soon. I plan to hunker down and have a cool shelter by then, perhaps digging something out and covering it with a lot of palmettos. I'll have to do it because Larry is pretty slow in getting motivated. He's been out of work for about two weeks now. At first, I was glad to be able to pay him back by spending my labor pool money on things and making a better life for us both, but now I feel pressure to work everyday, because I know he is dead broke, but my plasma money will have to do for now, he could at least clean up around the house while I'm gone or something; typical roommate squabbles. Something will turn up; hope it's good!