Monday, January 06, 2014
Old Friend Checking In
Tonight, I had a very pleasant surprise around 9 p.m. The phone rang and as I answered it, I glanced at the caller ID and new immediately the caller was a trucker friend of mine from back in my waitressing days. Jerry and I have been good friends since 1981, back when I first began working at the truckstop in Snow Shoe -the big truck stop, the one where all the union freight haulers always stopped. He drove for Consolidated Freightways, out of the terminal in the Poconos and ran a bid from there to Akron, Ohio -actually to Richfield and so, was back and forth across the state usually 6 days out of every week. I always got along easily with Jerry, probably because of the fact he and the guy who for many years was his best buddy and they always ran the same bid, were both big practical jokers. Well, truth be told, I'd venture to say the overwhelming majority of the drivers out of that barn were all practical jokers, loving nothing more than to harass waitresses along their run! I think -especially with Jerry and his former pal, Tommy, that they schemed their way across the state on each and every trip, planning their next prank down to as minute a bit as possible. Since I quit waitressing and Jerry retired after CF folded and closed their doors, we have still kept in touch. For quite a while it was online as he and his wife had purchased a little WEB machine -if you remember those things -kind of like a mini-computer except you used your tv set for your monitor. (I don't know if that's a true description of how those things worked, but I know it was close to being like that.) Then, after Jerry retired his wife got a computer and for a little while, Jerry kept in touch using his belowed "webbie" but eventually it became me and his wife communicating via either e-mail or eventually on Facebook. Jerry and I -up until about 2, maybe 3 years aog now -always exchanged Christmas cards along with remembering each other's birthdays too. I admit I would look long and hard to find what I believed to be the craziest, zaniest card I could possible find to send him for his birthday. He would generally call me then too on or around my birthday and always at Christmas and we would chat about the good old days, and he would try to keep me updated as much as possible about the status of some of my other old trucker friends from those years. Well, the cards and calls began to slow up and I hadn't talked to him in probably at least two years now -until tonight, that is. So I was really happy to see it was Jerry calling me. I know we would talk for at least 90 minutes to 2 hours -as usualy -and pick on each other unmercifully in the course of that conversation too. Tonight's call though it turned out wasn't just the normal call to wish my kids and me a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year but also to inform me that one of the drivers that Jerry knew I had been good friends with had passed away just last week now. This particular driver was one that was often referred to -in waitress terminology -as a "ball buster" because he dearly loved to see how much he could do or say to try to rattle the waitress without getting her so ticked off that she threw him out! Not that any of us would have done that but the thought would at times cross your mind with some drivers who often liked to mess with us in that manner. But with Eddie -this guy -it was different. He tried to play the role of being a rough, tough, grumpy older guy, but after a short period of time, most every waitress at that place came to know him and realize that the majority of his sort of "hissy fits" were mainly all just bluster! Ed Sandy was, underneath all his gruffness, really a big pussycat and one with a heart of gold. Sometimes, you had to dig a little to get the nice side of him to appear, but always, it was worth the effort. I remember especially when my daughter began working at the truckstop full-time too. She's been working there on weekends during her junior and senior years in high school and about a week or two after she graduated, there was an opening on the midnight shift for a fulltime waitress and the owner of the establishment asked me if I though my daughter would be interested in working that shift, fulltime. Yes indeedy, she was interested and darned glad then to have landed a fulltime job so quickly! (So was I, too!) Well, the first morning when she came home from having put in her first night on the graveyard shift, she walked in the house and threw her purse and other things on the dining room table and announced to me, "Well, YOU might like Ed Sandy, but I don't!" Hearing her say that really upset me because I knew Ed was going to be a big part of her working on that shift since he too ran a bid to Richfield, OHio and his start time generally was such that he would usually arrive at "The Shoe" at least 5 nites, sometimes 6, out of the 7 nights of the week and I knew too if she couldn't deal well with Ed, it was going to be a rough customer for her then to wait on. So I gave her some pointers on how to deal with Eddie -the main thing being,as soon as you see him coming, think of something you can do to him before he does anything to do and that way, you had control of him from the time he landed at a table then. She actually took my advice on how to cope with Eddie and when she left that place to go to work at another restaurant, her favorite driver was Ed Sandy. Actually, I think it would be safe to say that they had formed a bit of a mutual admiration society as Eddie though very highly of my daughter. Didn't stop him from picking on her whenever he could, but he also treated her, talked to her frequently, like a father and showed genuine concern for her during the time she worked there. So tonight, although it was great to talk to Jerry again, to remember all the crazy stunts he and his pals tried to pull across on me and my co-workers (some were successful, most usually backfired in some way or another but all were fun), as I hung up the phone, there was then this sad very empty feeling within me knowing that Eddie had now passed too. The world has lost one very nice gentleman, for sure! A big tease, yes. Someone who could always dish out all kinds of sarcastic but hilarious remarks when he came in our place but who also, if he thought you needed something and if he could help, he'd have givne you the shirt off his back. I've wished so many times that I could see some of those old drivers again -aside from Eddie -but Tommy Fallon, John Charles Clifford, Jack McGrail, Stanley Slesh and of course, Walter "Jumper" Barnes! What a great group of genuinely crazy guys those men were! I miss everyone of this old crew, really I do. No one to prank like we used to scheme back then. Just one terrific bunch of truckers, for sure, that now has diminished in size with the loss of Eddie. Rest in peace, my good friend, Ed Sandy!