I spent five years in that four-year program called college. I found myself stuck in crappy job after crappy job but always floating on the university’s dollar. Ball State sent me to a deep dungeon they called a “lab” to design web pages and write articles for the Muncie Public Television station. It was during this imprisonment that Warden Val (my boss) of the PBS Teleplex delivers her edict that I must actually get off my ass and do something.
The current project was a lifeline of Muncie report. The concept here was to delve into the simple people that made the town run and I had three choices that were left on the list of people to interview. First: John Carlson, an eighty-year old fireman that has survived third degree burns seven times in his years fighting fires leaving him with a bright piggy pink skin. Second: Pat Yerman, a twelve-year old exchange student from Poland that has the largest paper route in the entire state of Indiana despite of his deep emotional issues of being the son of a strong militant German and a poor Polish widow. Finally: Peter Pitts, a fifty-five year old delivery man who runs a lunch truck for the construction workers of Muncie regardless of the Masters Degree he earned from the University of Phoenix in Business Administration in Global Management. I chose Mr. Pitts simply because I might actually have an intelligent conversation with him. This was my first of many mistakes…
It was freezing. January freezing. The kind of turtle effect cold that ruins any mood. Regardless of my hidden buddy I had to fake like I had balls and approach that damn truck. He was standing, which is tricky to ascertain since he is a whopping five feet tall, loading boxes behind the student center.
Me : Excuse me, Mr. Pitts, can I have a second?
Mr. Pitts : A quick second, what ya want?
Me: Well, my name is Ryan, I’m currently a junior at Ball State University and working under the Teleplex division of Public…
Mr. Pitts (interrupting): Times up shrimp, belly bus is pulling out.
This was when he looked up and I got a bright glimpse of a white stomach sticking out from under his tight t-shirt. The shirt was proud to ask: Got Funk? And with that my short, stout, intellectual closed the door and drove away.
So with a quick cell-call to Baron Von Val (my boss) I was going to drop this assignment and get back to ass-sitting and ball-shrinking in front of my computer. Just as quickly she informed me only one piece of the program was missing and apparently it was mine. Furthermore I had one hour to prove to her my ass was worth sitting down there or my balls would be severely kicked with a no-work list meaning no job for Captain Ryan.
I had to keep working. I had to keep working this cushy job. I had to keep Princess Prissy from making me from dropping out of college. I had to be the best damn ass-sitter I could be.
I got in my car and started “the chase”. We sped down McKinley Ave. at a blazing 15 mph then North St. at 20 mph before he stopped. He flung open the door, wisps of massive swearing erupted as he hopped out and dropped to the road… face first.
I panicked. I threw my poor 1977 Gremlin into park (it’s called a classic not clunker). I felt a new pain in my body aside from my freezing extremities (and not so extremities with this infernal cold… (Infernal cold? Is that an oxymoron? (Goodness that Oscar movie is actually pretty funny… oxymoron… ))). I was scared as hell that Mr. Pitts had bit the dust, literally.
Me (gently rolling him over): Mr. Pitts! Mr. Pitts! Oh no, Mr. Pitts?
Mr. Pitts: *exhale*
Me: Mr. Pitts please; I just want you to be ok…
Mr. Pitts: *shallow breaths*
Me: This isn’t worth it…
I grabbed my cell phone and started dialing 911 when a hand reached up and knocked the phone away. Mr. Pitts was alive and ok.
Mr. Pitts (frozen hard nipples now disgustingly protruding through his tight shirt of horror): What the hell is wrong with you boy. See? That’s why you can’t deliver food or even empty boxes. Whole world is funked in the head. All’s wrong ya know (climbs back into truck). Well, get it over with what the hell do you want boy? You got no balls as it is, I can tell because you couldn’t even finish me off when I was down. So, well? Well boy? Well?
Me: Just wanted an interview, I’m really sorry.
Mr. Pitts: Look son, I gave you one hell of a story to tell so take a hint, leave me alone, change the next few minutes into some sort of a weird Deliverance scene if you want because the truth of the matter is my job’s boring as hell, public television is no better, and however you tell this story it wasn’t going to be any good unless I gave it some umph.
With that Mr. Pitts climbed off the ground, attempted to pull his shirt down to a respectable position, and took the next few minutes trying to climb back in his truck. I spent the next few minutes staring at the empty space where his truck was, trying to sort the events that just happened, and finally felt frostbite sneaking up.
In the next twenty minutes I wrote one hell of a story.
In the twenty minutes following that they quickly sent my story up.
In the hour after that I got news I was fired.
For the next few years realize Mr. Pitts was doing so much more than delivering sandwiches. He was a teacher in the real world. He rose above the norm to convey to me, and hopefully many others, what it means to be a real man. Never again did I bother with class. My GPA fell an entire point but my life was infinitely improved simply by following Mr. Pitts example.