Char was standing at the open door of Dickie’s truck while he cleaned his dash talking about the fact that Dave had called in sick today when Kelly walked by. Excitedly, Char said to Kelly, “Dave called in sick today.”
“Yes , I’m sure, Char said. “I was doing address insertions when Marcia took the call. Dave called in sick. He has the flu and won’t be in today.”
“You know,” Dickie said, “if Dave called in, he’s hurtin’ pretty bad.”
At the time clock where people waited to swipe in at 0640, the erase board indicated that Banick would be doing Dave’s route. Rudi asked if Dave was off today.
Russ was handing out equipment on the other side of the counter said, “No, Dave isn’t off. He called in sick today.”
Big Wayne said, “He’s been coughing and sneezing all week.”
“Calling in before the New Year holiday means Dave won’t get sick pay,” Karen said dispiritedly. “That’s not right, Dave never calls in.”
“Standing in line, Lil Wayne turned to Donna and said, “Great, I know they’re going to bone me with Dave’s Marilla stops. It always happens when you try to get out early. This place sucks.
Opposite the Southtown drivers in a parallel line were the city and Northtown drivers, also waiting to swipe in. With a broad grin, Randy said, “You Southtown guys talk big, but the second it gets a little cold you get the boo hoo sniffles and have to call in.”
The Southtown guys hissed at and cursed Randy and reminded him that Dave never calls in sick. When the noise settled down, with a little sparkle in his eye, Bova, the dean of the Southtown drivers, looked at Randy and said, “Remember that peak, maybe 04 or 05 when you were still down here and me and Paulie had to meet you and take seventy-five stops off you because you had a sore throat three days before Christmas?”
Big shocked eyes and muttering could be heard in both lines as Randy put up his hand in protest, “I had strep throat and a 103 degree fever. There was no way I could work...no way at all. And, I never call in sick either.”
“Yeah strep, that’s what the note from Dr.Christmasoff said, the whole holiday week off for strep” Bova said amidst a tide of laughter from both lines.
The clock ticked 40 and the lines moved methodically as the drivers swiped in. Randy could be heard vehemently defending himself all the way to his truck for the depraved violation of becoming ill during Christmas week more than a decade ago.
Walking to their trucks as Randy’s protests faded, a new Southtowns driver, Shannon, asked Kelly who Dave was, "Dave is the Orchard Park guy, he loads Rudi and Bell’s trucks.”
Then it clicked for Shannon,“Oh yeah, the guy with the big head.”
“Well,” said Kelly furrowing her brow, “Dave is confident, but I wouldn’t say he has a big head.”
Waving her hand Shannon said “No, that’s not what I mean. I mean he literally has a huge head, an Andre the Giant sized head. You gotta admit that is one giant smosh.”
Flashers blinked and hoods slammed on the rows of trucks as the drivers went through their pre-trip routines. Patrick, the Southtown manager waited behind the trucks along the dormant conveyor belt and was shuffling through some papers. Finishing up their pre-trips and signing onto their hand held devices the drivers huddled around Patrick for their quick daily meeting and Patrick announced that Dave had called in sick today and Banick would be doing his route and Lil Wayne would be taking his Marilla stops.
Bell, who was a minute or two late and hadn’t checked the erase board when he swiped in said, “What...Dave called in sick?”
“Yeah,” said Char, “Dave has the flu and he called in.”
Then Rudi said, “You know, for Dave to call in, he’s gotta be hurtin pretty bad.
“He’s been coughing and sneezing all week,” Big Wayne added
“I knew it, I knew it,” huffed Lil Wayne. “I knew I was going to get boned with those Marilla stops. It happens every time you make plans. This place sucks.”
Near the end of the quick meeting Rick, who was a late starter, came up set his bag on the belt and asked what was happening.
Char responded, “Dave called in sick today.”
“Really? Dave never calls in sick.” Rick quipped
Shaking her head, Donna said, “He’s probably hurtin pretty bad.Still fuming Lil Wayne put an exclamation mark on the whole conversation, “Nobody cares about my wrecked plans because Dave called in sick today. This place sucks.”