I get that feeling running through my veins
You know it drives me insane
In the car, slam the door, turn the key
And I’ll be free on that highway tonight
– Dokken, “Nightrider”
There is something intoxicating about being behind the wheel of a well-tuned machine with the tight cornering control of the steering wheel in your hands and the seat cradling your body when the accelerator is pressed to the floor.
I realized that after I had walked out on my job as a repo man, there had been one aspect of it that I had really enjoyed and that was the freedom of being behind the wheel of my Rx-7. I had worked a number of desk jobs in variations of 9 to 5 Hells with fluorescent lighting and after never really giving the idea of being a delivery driver much thought, I realized it was what I wanted.
I took a job at one of the more expensive restaurants in town betting that people willing to pay the higher prices would offer better tips. The manager scheduled my first night on a Friday and out of three drivers supposed to work the shift, I was the only one that showed up. To make matters worse, the city was being drenched by a massive rainstorm and I didn’t know the street names nearly as well as I needed to.
Despite the difficulties, I accepted the challenge and began my shift. I shot from one delivery to the next with the rain coming down in sheets. By the third or fourth location, my clothes were soaked and the cold began setting in with shivers. The main streets were crowded with other vehicles and streaks of light while the roads less traveled became black with reflection.
Still as crazy as it all may have seemed, I was enjoying the night. I was right about the tips and quickly learned that a quick smile or witty banter made for a bigger payday from many of the women that greeted me. Later I would meet a regular that ordered from us at least once or twice a week. She would always order a medium rare ribeye and ask for me by name. She was almost always three sheets in the wind when I arrived, sometimes mostly dressed, sometimes not. Her relentless flirting made it obvious that she wanted more than that steak but in all honesty, I really wasn’t interested after surviving my previous party life. I would often stay and keep her company for a moment however because she seemed lonely and I didn’t see any harm in talking.
There was another delivery to a local industrial company. It was a fairly large order for $250.00 worth of food and the supervisor asked me to drive my Rx-7 through the plant. I had heavy machinery and factory workers on all sides as I navigated through tight areas and weaved through the maze of metal until reaching the conference room door. I unloaded the order on the table and walked out with a $50.00 tip along with a fond memory that I will never forget.
As I continued working the job, I met a number of people that would become friends. Donald was another driver and we had a friendly rivalry going where we joked about our both being the best workers the company had. I would ask how it felt to always be in second place and he would snap back with the promise of letting me know when he wasn’t in first. He was funny and one of the luckiest guys I had ever met. He put a few quarters into a slot machine once and walked out with an extra $300.00 in his pocket. He was also incredibly lucky when it came to concert tickets and I lost count of how many he won from radio station contests but it did put us front row at a KISS show.
The streets became well known and my speeds increased until my delivery times were shaved down to nearly nothing. I really was the fastest driver the company had but I’m betting that Donald would argue that point even today. What started out with a questionable beginning had turned into one of the most enjoyable work experiences that I ever had.