Never Pick Up Hitchhikers

There aren’t a lot of jobs for college students these days; especially those who return home each summer to the tiny village in which they grew up.  You take what you can get, even if that means having to drive twenty minutes out of town to work in a pickle factory.

Life in a pickle factory is confusing.  The actual process of putting pickled cucumbers into a jar isn’t, it’s the people around me that I can’t figure out.  There are people here who actually seem to enjoy what they do.  Then there are those who you can tell hate every single moment, but they refuse to do anything to improve their situation.  Peeing into the jars when they think no one is looking is their idea of getting revenge on the world that placed them here.

I must admit, though, I like the idea of revenge.  I know I’m not supposed to and that living for revenge is unhealthy for the most part, but sometimes it’s actually quite healing.  Not for those who will one day eat the urine soaked pickles that come out of this factory, but for people like me who enjoy seeing one coworker in partcular suffer.

His name is Robert Woods, and he’s a complete asshole.  He was an asshole when I knew him back in elementary school and he’s still one today.  Back when we were still learning our ABC’s and how to add, subtract, multiply and divide, Robert Woods teased me unmercifully.  He called me a thousand and one nasty names, pulled my pig tails, stole my lunch almost everyday, and pushed me down at least once a week on the playground.  I thought I had seen the last of him when his family moved away in Grade four, but lo and behold, didn’t I spot him in the staff lunchroom on my first day  here.

I spotted him the next day as well on my way in to the plant.  He was standing by the side of the road hitchhiking.  I could have been nice and picked him up, saving him one hell of a long walk into work, but instead I chose to pay him back for all of those times he tormented me.  He called me out on it at lunch.

“You’re Leigh Summers, aren’t you?” he asked while I was eating my cucumber-free salad.

“Yes, I am,” I replied, letting on that I still had no idea who he was.

“We used to go to school together years go.  Remember?  I’m Robert Woods.”

“Oh yes, of course!  Long time no see,” I said pretending to be happy to have the creep back in my life.

“Did you not see me thumbing for a ride this morning on yor way in?”

“Was that you?  I remember seeing a hitchhiker but it’s just a natural reflex for me to ignore them, I guess.  My parents always told me never to pick up hitchhikers, so I didn’t even look to see if it might be anyone I know.  Sorry.”

He was out hitchhiking the next day, and the day after that.  He wasn’t the day after that, though.  I heard through the grapevine that he was fired for being late three days in a row.

Maybe deep down inside I have more of a pickle factory worker inside of me than I do the character of someone above all of this.  One of my classes this fall will be in psychology, so perhaps I’ll ponder it more then.



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