Old Man in Biker Boots
There’s an old man that routinely walks past my house. He walks past my house in all seasons of the year.
This old man is small and always smoking. He always wears a black cap and jeans that are rolled up at the bottom. Inside where he’s folded his jeans, he wears motorcycle boots. In cooler weather he wears a leather jacket. In warmer weather he wears a black t-shirt. Regardless of the temperature he always dresses like a decrepit character from The Wild One.
I’ve seen this old man enough that, if I’m outside while he’s passing, I’ve come to acknowledge him with a tepid “Hello” or “How you doing?”.
Yesterday I was getting in my car. The old man was coming down the sidewalk.
Again, I acknowledge him. I don’t remember if it was with words or a simple nod.
He stopped and said, “Look what I got today.”
He held up an umbrella. It was hot and humid as fuck outside.
“I ain’t getting caught in the rain again today,” he said.
“You got rained on yesterday?” I asked.
Severe storms had passed through the day before.
“Yeah,” he said. “I got soaked. But not today.”
“That would suck,” I said.
Then he asked, “Where you going?”
I told him I was going to the gym.
“Think you could give me a lift?” he asked.
I asked him where to.
“The turkey farm,” he said.
Our town has a turkey slaughtering/processing factory affectionally called “The Turkey Farm” by the locals.
“It’ll be real quick,” he said. “That way I won’t get rained on again.”
It didn’t feel like rain. But it was close to 90 degrees and grossly humid. In the time it would take the old fella to walk to and from the turkey farm, he could easily get caught in a pop-up shower. And even if he didn’t get caught in the rain again, it seemed wrong for an old man to be walking all the way to the turkey farm in jeans and motorcycle boots when it was so damned hot and humid outside.
“Alright,” I said.
The old man pinched out his cigarette and put the butt in his pocket. He crawled into my car.
“Thanks,” he said. “It was real bad getting caught in that storm yesterday.”
I said, “I bet.”
I drove the old man down to the turkey farm. He smelled hard of body odor and cigarettes. He told me he was 73 years old. He said it gets harder every year walking all the way back and forth to the turkey farm.
As I drove him down, he asked, “Would you mind waiting? Shouldn’t take me more than 5 minutes. Then you can drop me off at the apartments up by the Penn Station.”
“Alright,” I said.
“I got to pick up my money,” he said. “He ought to be waiting for me.”
When we got to the turkey farm, the old man got out. I noticed his black t-shirt was for some Harley Davidson motorcycle shop in the area. The name of that shop had the same name as the family that owns the turkey farm.
He went into the office. The old man was in and out in no time.
“He was in there waiting,” he said.
As I was driving him to his apartment, the old man said, “I worked there for over forty years. They work you like a dog and don’t pay you anything.”
I never imagined a place that slaughters turkeys was a pleasant place to work.
“A lot of places are like that,” I said.
He explained how the people they hired weren’t any good. He said they can’t hire good people when they pay them so little.
“Makes sense,” I said.
He added, “And I gotta make sure I get back down there tomorrow. I gotta get enough money to last me the whole weekend. I gotta get enough money to get me through Friday, Saturday and Sunday.”
I realized that old man must make the round trip trek down to the turkey farm every day throughout the work week, regardless of the weather.
Before I knew it, I’d driven him the mile back to his apartment. I let him out at the Penn Station.
“This is good,” he said. “I’ll just cross the yard. Thanks.”
He got out and I drove off.
Somewhere, there’s more to his story. A lot more. More to him than being an ex-biker and having worked at the turkey farm for over 40 years. More than walking a mile each way in the heat and the cold for the money he collects at the turkey farm. Money from who? For what? And why?
Yeah, there’s got to be so much more to him. Of course, there is.
Maybe I’ll see the old man again today. If not, then some other day. And if I can, I’ll probably give him another ride if he wants one.