By John Meyers
I want the world to think of me as a tough, hardworking man. The kind of man you see driving a pickup truck, hauling brush, old refrigerators, moldy furniture and scrap metal.
I’m a help desk technician. I spend my days resetting passwords and listening to the guy next to me blow his nose. I’m fairly certain this job does not appear on anybody’s list of tough-guy occupations. I know I’m capable of a lot more, and I firmly believe that if you put me behind the wheel of a pickup truck, I will make a difference.
I’ve always wanted to be a cowboy, or at least a sort of rescuer-cowboy type. I often imagine myself in this role, driving down a quiet dirt road somewhere in the southern United States. It’s like a movie. An old Lincoln Continental is stopped on the side of the road with a flat tire. I pull over, get out of my pickup truck and move toward the Lincoln in a non-threatening manner. My ostrich skin boots make scraping sounds in the dirt as I walk.
An older gentleman is sitting in the Lincoln. He smiles when I approach. I am a large man, my faded flannel shirt is drawn tight over my barrel chest, he can trust me. I change the tire quickly. When I’m done the gentleman thanks me and flashes a look that says “Only you could have done this. Only a rescuer-cowboy type driving a pickup truck could have helped me out of this predicament.”
Perhaps this scenario is a bit of a stretch, but almost every day at work I load up various automakers’ websites and think about buying the truck. There are so many different options that I end up confused and lose my nerve. I’m hoping the day will come when I don’t lose my nerve, because I know there are people across the country with flat tires who need my help. They don’t need me to reset their passwords. They don’t need me to tap delicately on a keyboard and bring their computers back to life.
They need my physical strength. The kind of strength only rescuer-cowboys possess. I will use this strength to change their tires and get them back on the road. I will refuse all offers of compensation. Instead, I will ask these people to look closely at my magnificent work-scarred hands and tell me if I have done enough.
John Meyers’ stories have appeared most recently in Spartan, SmokeLong Quarterly, Threadcount Magazine, Lunch Ticket, and The Laurel Review (forthcoming). John was a 2018 Best Small Fictions nominee and is online @hammeredinmetal.