Often, as I hurriedly exit my home and leap down my stoop, I glance to my right and see the familiar, brown UPS truck parked on the south-east corner of Charles and West 4th streets. The truck driver stands behind the truck in chunky, black sneakers, and dressed ironed, brown shorts and an accompanying, pressed short sleeve button up. He is the most meticulously dressed of anyone in sight. His hair is combed (and gelled, I assume, since it never moves) into a side part. He is cleanly shaven with large black sunglasses covering his face.
I meet him some months ago when he delivered a mattress. With a sore back, I anxiously awaited the delivery. I watched out my window as he struggled to move the 80-pound cylinder out of the truck. I had never seen him before. He lowered the mattress onto his cart with precision. His gait was as careful as his outfit. He marched in a perfectly straight line across the intersection at West 4th. He accelerated seemlessly, almost imperceptible as he built up the momentum to push the cart over the edge of the sidewalk. Every action he took was produced by his intentions, never by accident. He was steadfast in his movement. When he reached just a few feet from my house, I decided he was close enough for me to open the door and offer to help without giving him the idea that I had been surveilling him.
I opened the door as he was maneuvering the mattress off of the cart. He stood it upright against the railing of the stoop. He looked up at me, removing his glasses. I saw his sunken, bright blue eyes. I could see dark circles under his eyes. Had it not been for this observation, I would have never imagined that he might too get tired sometimes. Nothing about him gave the air of fatigue. He glanced down at his scanner and back up at me. With a thick German accent and genuine confusion, he said “Meredith?”. He hesitated. “Will you be signing for Meredith?”, he said. “That’s my mother,” I replied. He began walking up the stoop, still with the air of reluctance. After I signed for the package, he ask me for help carrying it.
We carried the mattress up the steps. I realize that my contribution made very little impact on the effort. Thought I doubt he really needed the help, I appreciated his asking. I cannot remember another time when someone has asked for the help of my strength. His requested canceled out all the times I’ve been called “ma’am” on the phone.
After delicately laying the mattress down in the hallway, he walked back out the door and down to the sidewalk. He turned back and said, “Nice to meet you, Ben.” I smiled to him, wondering how he learned my name. I assume he saw my signature, which is, admittedly, just the letters B-E-N. Though unburdened with the weight of the package, he pushed the cart back to the truck with his regimented walk.