The garage was dimly lit and cavernous. There was a tranquil quiet within the building, the type that normally accompanies the pre-dawn hours, as I passed the rows of trucks that lined the aisles wondering whether this was where I was supposed to be.
I was struck by the size and capacities of these machines as I made my way toward the glow of light toward the rear of the columns. Drawing close, the sound of a slamming door, voices and laughter broke the stillness. Off in the far corner illuminated by shop lights, a group of men were clustered around metal workbenches. Behind them. the cold, dark winter shown through a wall of windows that had long ago given up their transparency to the elements of nature and exhaust residue.
There were about a dozen of them and their number grew and diminished as others came and left to begin the business of their day. The swirl of cigarette smoke surrounded them as they drank their coffee, talked and joked or just sat quietly reading their newspapers. Some were big; others not so. Some wore wool caps; others nothing more than a full head of hair. To a man, the uniform of the day was a heavy plaid flannel shirt, blue jeans and thick soled, leather climbing boots. And while some wore hooded sweatshirts and a few insulated vests, it seemed that it was their bravado that would protect them from the harsh cold that would be their day .
I spotted a familiar face, one of my new hire co-workers, trying to interject himself into some of the conversations. His attempts were met with a mixture of good natured smiles and gruff "excuse me, who are you" indifference. I was standing off to the side watching and admiring this new existence, when.... I heard my name. It was low...in a distance. Must be a mistake...I don't know anyone here. And then louder.... who...?
Somewhat stunned... I looked around.
My wife was standing there asking me a question. I picked up the book on my lap, leaned back in my recliner and continued on with the story of "Slim".