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Work Out - A friend in passing

By Nancy Leasman

Benjamin drives a dump truck. He hauls the loads of whatever by-products that are made by a local processor. I see him when I’m on my daily walk sometime between 7 and 8:30 each weekday morning. I really don’t know where he’s going but I imagine he dumps whatever he’s hauling on some field a few miles on down the road.

Benjamin is a courteous driver. He goes slowly, respecting the road and others on it. I hear him coming a mile away. His truck appears over the hills to the east or to the west and I watch as it crests the distant hills and approaches. He crosses over the center line as I step onto the shoulder to be sure that our meeting is without issues of safety. If we are going in the same direction I hear the rumble of the engine first, then the friction of the tires on the road.

I wave at most vehicles going either direction. When I came to recognize that Benjamin was a regular, I started to give more than just a cursory arm lift. He recognized me, too, as a regular. Now we smile and give an arm lift, elbow rotation and a waggling of hands.

If he approaches from behind me, I turn and wave and often see his arm wave out the window or see his wave in his side mirror.

I would be surprised if Benjamin is really his name. It just seemed right to give a noble name to a man who rumbles by daily. I think of him as Benjamin and he probably thinks of me as the lady on County 86.

We don’t share occupation, mode of transport, generation, gender, or skin color. It’s possible that we don’t even share the same language, except the language of a friendly gesture. We only share a half-mile section of road and a semi-regular time slot.

This casual relationship of recognition on a rural road makes me feel good. I hope it makes him feel good, too.

On the morning after my birthday, at 8:07, I was walking east about a half mile from home. I heard Benjamin’s truck coming toward me but couldn’t see him because of the rise in the road. He came over the hill and just as we were about to meet, I heard a rustle in the grass to my left. A young deer, the same color as old grass, erupted from the ditch. 

Time didn’t slow down but in a fraction of a second I processed the possible impact. I stopped, gestured toward the deer and covered my eyes in see-no-evil fashion, hoping to draw Benjamin’s attention away from me and toward the deer streaking in front of the truck. 

Maybe Benjamin’s foot came off the gas, maybe the deer’s sprint was just enough. I dropped my hands enough to watch the deer in a flat out run-for-your-life race.

There was no impact. 

I imagined a bucket-full of what-if scenarios in that 5 second interaction. As it was, Benjamin and I waved our usual greetings and the deer trotted through an opening in the woods.

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