Sunday, June 15, 2008

Here is the second installment of The Ice Cream Man Rings for All Eternity:

* * *

The ad on craigslist seemed promising:

Ice Cream Truck Drivers wanted immediately for the Northwest Philadelphia area. Must be at least 18 years old with a descent driving record and be able to pass a background check. Cash paid daily. Call 215-574-3873 for more info. Sweet Melody Ice Cream Co.

James had never driven a truck before, but figured it couldn't be too difficult, except maybe on the mirror-clipping goat-paths that make up Manayunk. He remembered walking on Ridge Avenue one time and seeing a line of cars backed up a quarter mile long, cars honking, dudes "what the fuck!"ing in typical Philly fashion...all because of the Ice Cream Man.

On foot James was able to make his way up Calumet Street, past the cars stuck with no where to go, to get a better look. Wanting to see the cause of this snarled line of cars held the same draw that accidents on the Schuylkill do for frustrated motorists wondering what the clog is. The irony is that the delay is usually caused by the motorists themselves, each and every one of them, unable to resist slowing down in order to be a personal drive-by witness of someone else's highway misery.

But this was a real clog in one of East Falls' minor, but heavily used, neighborhood traffic veins. There was no room for rubber necking simply because the one way street lined on both sides with parked cars would not allow it. James found it interesting to note the different people's reactions to the situation, and how their vehicles were usually a good indicator of what that reaction would be.

The guys with trucks, the contractors, plumbers, electricians, had no patience, and no qualms about laying on their horn and yelling. Their counterpart, the Prius and sub-compact drivers entertained looks of curious bewilderment. The teenage drivers straight arming the steering wheel tough-talked to their girlfriends behind the dash but their balls had not developed enough to move beyond this insulated verbal aggression. The Bimmer and Audi drivers scowled, checked their watches, put their fingers to the bridge of their nose as if their wasted time was like an air-conditioned fueled energy meter spinning wildly in July. The women in Volvos and Subaru Outbacks listened to NPR, and smiled patiently.

(to be continued.)

No comments: