10/14/10: Way to shame me into updating again by commenting, people who comment! (Seriously, though, hi, welcome, and pull up one of the splintery old orange crates that we use for seating 'round these parts seein' as we can't afford no fancy chairs.)

The rules from
here still apply.

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

Lunch Alone

Bill hung back as the other workers stowed their tools and headed towards the break area. They were joking and laughing amongst themselves; he might've joined in, but didn't see the point. If any of them noticed he was still around, they gave no sign. He busied himself with his gloves, making sure they were lined up neatly on the I-beam.

Eventually he couldn't hear their voices anymore. He ambled across the construction site to the parking lot, where the other workers had already gotten their various lunches and picked a tailgate to congregate around. Today it looked to be Fred's. PJ was regaling them all with what was undoubtedly a profoundly filthy story. Bill had a pretty good one from the time his cousin had gone to a prostitute while on business in Australia, but when he had started to tell it his second week on the site, he'd only been met with stony stares. Today, as every day for the last three months, he ate his lunch sitting alone on his own tailgate. His wife's tuna salad was probably as delicious as ever, but it generally tasted like ashes when she packed it for his lunch.

Loud laughter erupted from the knot of workers around Fred's truck, and Bill glanced over there briefly. They all seemed to be okay guys, Fred and PJ and the rest, except when they were talking to him; and then they all clammed up, mouths drawn down, eyes narrowed. He wasn't sure what he'd done wrong. All the guys at his old job back in Rockford had liked him just fine. He'd even been on the bowling team, after Jimmy had retired and left his spot vacant. But the Rockford job had ended, and there didn't seem to be any more jobs anywhere closer than Pike Creek, and so Bill and his wife had moved. Now Bill was that one guy on the crew that nobody else ever wanted to talk to, and he couldn't for the life of him figure out why.

He finished his sandwich, washed it down with warm Pepsi. The others were still talking by Fred's truck, although by now PJ had surrendered the floor to someone else. Eventually they'd finish up and head back over to the site. Then he'd trail behind them again, slinking back to his post, quietly returning to work without making eye contact with anyone. When the day ended, the others would all exchange their various farewells, while he went quietly back to his truck and went home. And then he would do it all over again tomorrow.

Bill wasn't ordinarily a contemplative man, but sometimes even he had to stop and wonder just what the hell was wrong with the world.

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