As I sat in the Production office of the arena in Loveland, CO I realized so much has happened since my last post. I sat at the table with my cup of coffee and the smell of a lingering rodeo, one event came to mind loud and clear. It happened in Pittsburgh, PA and I had finally fallen asleep when the hotel room phone rang.
“Gina he’s dead, he’s dead” those words are not really what you want to hear when the phone jolts you out of a Xanax induced sleep. I didn’t really know the guy who drove our merch truck, following the tour trucks. I sat with him a few times in catering, but I hadn’t said more than ten words to him since we started the tour in September. But at midnight, I threw on my slippers and a sweatshirt and headed back out in the cold Pittsburgh night and back to the venue where the merch truck sat there with ambulances, paramedics, and police all around. I did the only thing I knew how to do, I just held our merch manager and stared at the back of the truck. The truck that I knew held the dead body of a man I didn’t know.
Our worlds didn’t really collide, but I was sad, sad I didn’t make more of an effort to get to know him, but as I sit in this smelly production office hundreds of miles from Pittsburgh, I couldn’t help but contemplate life. So many thoughts were still swirling around in my head, the least of which was how he died, alone in the cab of his truck. That night I stood on the sidewalk, comforting the person who found him and as I talked to her, I learned that no one out on tour really knew him.
How can you be on the road with someone for over two months and not even really know if he even had a family? It’s been a week since that cold night in Pittsburgh, and I still am having trouble shaking that whole event. Death confuses me in general, how someone could be there one minute and a few seconds later they were gone. One of my greatest fears is dying all alone, undiscovered for hours, or even days. The thought that this man was dead in the cab of his truck for probably a day or so was almost worse than his actual death.
I find my mind wandering to what were his last thoughts, did he know he was dying? Did he try to call someone, but couldn’t? Or, what I hope is true, did he just fall asleep and not wake up? Whatever the case was, it affected me more than I anticipated and made me look at how I interact with people in general on a daily basis. I never want to end up with the same feeling I had on the sidewalk that cold night in Pittsburgh. I’m certainly not saying we have to like everyone we meet, because, well…people. But, I made a promised to myself I would make more of an effort. More of an effort to be present when someone new is talking to me. More of an effort to remember things new people tell me. Just make more of an effort.
As I sat in Loveland, Colorado, I remembered what I use to tell my chickens every first day of school. Be nice to the new kid. If you see them sitting alone at the lunch table, sit with them. Everyone has been the new kid one time, or another, including you and everyone, knows what it is like to sit a the lunch table all alone. I use to tell them they didn’t have to be friends with them if it turns out they didn’t like them, but make an effort to get to know them. I didn’t even follow my advice. I would often walk into catering to find the merch guy usually sitting alone, and I would get my food and eat in the production office. I’m still angry at myself for that. How can I teach my chickens to do something that I, as an adult, couldn’t even seem to remember to follow?
So, I will make more of an effort. I will follow that sage advice I gave those little chickens so many years ago. I will make more of an effort, will you?