I had to make some money for college stuff, so the old man got me my first paying summer job with Buzzard’s Brick and Block at minimum wage, a buck twenty-five an hour. I drove forty minutes both ways in my 50 Plymouth station wagon to an abandoned brick plant on the side of a canyon not far from the Pacific. I say abandoned because there was nobody there but me, the plant, and piles and piles of brick stacked more than 20 feet high.
My job was to unstack those brick and to restack them on pallets of a thousand brick each. Trucks came and picked these up and took them to the main yard for sale. I don’t know how I stood it all alone there stacking one brick after another that whole summer. But I had a little radio I listened to; the Stones were singing, “My, My, My said the spider to the fly.” And because my brain was still saturated with hormones I could sustain sexual fantasies for a good while, sometimes topped off by an assisted, open air ejaculation.
One day though I was told to start up the dump truck, load it with rock, and back it down to the gate and dump the rock to one side of the gate where it was still possible for a car to drive through. They must have been worried about some sort of liability thing with the abandoned brickyard. I was 19 and had never driven a dump truck; true, it was not huge, but it was a dump truck. And I had failed my driver’s test twice.
But I loaded it with rock and broken brick and backed it down and got the truck to dump right where it was supposed to. I guess I got over elated because when I tried to pull away from the gate, I lost control and the truck backed into the metal pipe to which the gate was appended. I bent the pipe pretty severely with the result that the gate stuck up in the air at about a 45 degree angle, so while a person could not drive around it, a person in a small car could drive directly under it.
I figured my ass was grass. But when one of the trucks came out to pick up stuff, the trucker said he would fix it and did by backing down his rig and pulling the metal post almost back to an upright position with a chain. The fork lift battery gave out. It was not a minimal forklift; seated in it I was a good six feet off the ground and I needed it to get down the highest brick so I could stack them on the pallets.
They sent out this weasel guy they used to do all the little bitty shit work. But failing to bring jumper cables, he decided we would push start the rig with his truck, even though the forklift was an automatic and I swear I have never heard of a way to push start an automatic with a dead battery. But there we were banging along over the rough ground hitting maybe 20 miles an hour when the ground just ran out and I had to make a turn. But I hit a bump and went flying, as the fork lift went on over the edge and sunk its blades completely into the opposing embankment.
I have gone flying a number of times, mostly head over heels over my bicycle handles, and each time, it’s funny. When I realize I am flying, I just sort of give up and go limp. I swear that the three of four times I have gone flying, including the fly from the forklift, may be among the most relaxed moments of my life. In any case, I was not injured.