Friday, February 19, 2010

Delivery Boy (a reconstructed and reflected-upon memory)

The porch of my home on a weekday. I'm waiting and the sun is out, people walk by but they're mainly older people or mothers with their children. I called a long time ago; the driver is late. My gut aches and groans at me, yearning for the margherita and possibly (but who really knows) the garlic bread. I grow annoyed in my naivety and curse the shop I ordered it from. Childish hissy fit. Irrational and ill-thought through.

Finally he arrives, chugging past in a noisy sedan. Finally, I think, as if it meant that much. The dog probably barked, or at least nudged the side gate. Maybe even growled at the foreign footsteps and voice.

All feelings of hunger leave me as an old man approaches me. I feel intimidating, seated comfortably on my porch like this. Some sort of primeval territorialism; defence of the home fort or some shit. Residual traits, no longer valued en masse. God, I think, staring at the hobbling old codger; this man has to be at least sixty, and he's delivering pizzas. His sunken eyes draw more than pity from me. I feel ashamed.

Gidday, he says. I return the genial greeting and continue to stare at the man, somewhat perplexed. He recites my order, probably just as he was trained to. I'm not judging you, old man. I'm searching around in your mind, trying to find the origins of what's on the outside. Something gloomy is going on here. He trembles like washing line in the wind.

I pay him and he rummages his bum-bag for change. It's taking him a long time and when I vividly imagine the reactions some people may have given this man in the past, I grow sorrowful. My compassion, at this moment, rests solely with this man; though on a grander scale, on the macrocosm mirorring this situation, I feel sadness for all those like this man. And then I regret my pity and label it presumptuous. For what if this man loves his job? Is that sadder, I think, or not?

He finally produces the right coinage before re-zipping the bum-bag, which is strapped tightly to his waist. His appearance causes strings to be pulled behind my eyes, at the top of which are puppeteers laughing at me for being so soft. Tears feel imminent, though I cannot pinpoint exactly why. In retrospect, it is far clearer; but in the right then, my intuitions had freer reign and the symptoms were barely repressable. Old man, what has landed you on my front porch, fumbling with your eye-glasses trying to read the receipt, the hat sporting your employer's logo hanging limply to the side of your head?

I give thanks and watch the figure exit my property. Just one in a sea of many, I say to myself. I feel arrogant because it feels as if I think I'm "better". I do not. But there seem faculties missing; valuable functions which so many seem to have lost or missed out on or...who knows? I cannot feel this pity any longer, I exclaim to myself. Compassion, it may be, could be the end of me. Drivelling statues in a godless world. Figures of yore would look upon these days with shame. Who fashioned this mess?

I eat the pizza and think of the old man, squinting through the windshield of his car on his way to the next delivery destination. He sees eyes in the revision mirror and the eyes return the look, which is one of suppressed pride and recognition of what supposedly must be. Did that boy look at me, an old man far his senior in both age and wisdom, with pity? And the thought gnaws away at him; it inspires rage inside of him because it is as if something has happened which is outside his own control. Posterity, he says, is doomed to arrogance. The wisdom of elders will remain obstinate until the day he dies, while I remain at my house, eating a greasy pizza and feeling sorry for an old man who has been forced into becoming a pizza delivery boy.

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