DEATH BY CAT FOOD

“That’ll be four dollars”

I sat down with my overprice frosted flakes (of corn) across from a man with a baseball cap, a motor freight company T-shirt, and jeans. Not paying much mind to each other, I poured my milk and ate my cereal in relative silence, listening to the conversations of Amtrak workers also in the lounge car.
“This guy knows how to make up time”, one of them said. That’s good to know considering this ride is a long one as it is. Apparently the same conductor made up a five hour delay.

Finishing my still overpriced Kellogg’s breakfast, I looked around the outdated interior of this so-called lounge. Nothing was falling apart, that I could tell. It all just looked in need of a modernization.
Then I heard a somewhat raspy voice from across the table.

“You heading all the way to New York? Albany?”
“No, all the way to the city.”
“You from there?”
“I’m actually from the Chicagoland area heading to New York to start a bike ride across the country with a team of nineteen others to raise money for cancer research.”

A minute passes.

“You travel much?”
“Yeah, I’m a cross country truck driver, well, was. Now I just pick up trucks. Been on this train since 8:30 yesterday morning.”

And I though I had a long ride.

“It’s a good job though. They pay for all of my travel and food expenses. I clock in for twenty one dollars an hour from then until when I bring their truck back. Sometimes they need repairs, sometimes not. But never take a truck with a load. That’s government stuff, and a good way to get yourself shot, quick. I’ll only take it if it’s just the cab.”

Another couple of minutes pass. He pulls out his phone then slides it my way. On the flip phone screen is a picture of a truck that had hit the legs of a bridge. Written under it were the simple words: this happened.

“Closed the highway for six hours. The entire truck was split down the center. 65 miles per hour. His side ran into the pillars. Couldn’t even get an autopsy. Everything on his side of the engine compartment was slammed his way, not to mention the load of cat food he was carrying in the trailer that was still hurling at the pilar at 65.”
“What a way to go. Death by cat food.”

I sat there for longer than I realized, staring at the sights that Ohio has to offer, or rather, the lack thereof. Then with a smile and a nod, I was on my way back to my seat with my team.

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