Dan slammed on his brakes. He stopped just inches from the front end of the truck leaving his driveway. Three Krispy Kreme donuts and the remains of a large coffee mingled on the floor of the front seat of his new BMW 335i.
Dan got out and stormed to the driver’s side of the truck. Helping Hand, Inc. was painted on the door.
“I thought you were here to pick up the furniture,” Dan barked.
The driver rolled down his window.
“The furniture. You were supposed to pick it up,” said Dan.
“Yeah, I was, but I can’t take that piece.”
“Why not?” he demanded.
“Because it doesn’t meet our standards.”
Dan looked in the direction of the love seat. “What are you talking about?”
The driver climbed out of his truck and walked toward the love seat, motioning for Dan to follow. Running his hand along the frayed upholstery on the back he said, “You got a cat or something?”
“What I’ve got is a piece of furniture that’s in perfectly good condition. I called your office. I described it. I scheduled a pick up, and now it’s your turn to do your job, so we can both get on with our lives.”
“Sir, would you please move your vehicle so I can exit your driveway?”
“Would I what?” said Dan.
“I think you heard me,” said the driver.
“Yeah, I heard you. My car stays right there until you load that piece onto your truck.”
Looking at Dan, the driver sized him up. Five-nine, maybe 200 pounds, a big gut on him. I could take him out, ten seconds tops. But what about the cops and assault charges? I’ve been down that road. Maybe I could get him to take the first shot. No. Better get in the truck and let him cool off.
“Did you ever think of taking an anger management course?” the driver said through the half-closed window of his cab.
Dan lurched back to his car, pulled the door shut with rattling force, and grabbed his cell phone. He gnashed through numbers and menus until a receptionist at Helping Hand Incorporated cheerfully responded.
“Helping Hand. This is Deborah. How may I help you?”
“I scheduled a pick-up for today,” said Dan. “Your driver is here and refuses to take a perfectly good love seat. I want to talk to someone who can order him to load the goddamn piece onto his goddamn truck.”
“I wish I could help you sir, but the manager is the only one who can do that and he isn’t in on Saturdays. You know, our drivers are trained to make these kinds of decisions.”
“Well, he’s making the wrong decision.”
“Excuse me, Sir. I have another call coming in. Can you hold please?”
Looming in his rearview mirror, Dan saw a police car glide to a stop. The officer stepped out of his cruiser and walked toward Dan’s car. Dan got out to meet him.
“Is there a problem, Sir?” the officer asked Dan.
“I’m the one who called, Officer,” said the driver, climbing out of his truck.
Dan took a step toward the officer. “I’m trying to get this guy from Helping Hand to take that love seat, but it doesn’t seem to meet his high aesthetic standards.”
The policeman looked at the driver, then at Dan.
“I’ll show you, Officer,” the driver said.
The three of them walked over to the love seat and the driver pointed to the frayed fabric.
“I’m not supposed to take furniture in this condition,” said the driver.
“Look,” said Dan, “it’s a perfectly good love seat. We kept its back against the wall. I just took it from our living room this morning.”
The driver turned toward Dan and said, “I’m sorry you had to live that way.”
For a moment no one spoke.
Addressing Dan, the officer said, “Sir, I’m sorry, but it’s his decision to make. Move your car, please, and let him drive away.”
“You’ve got to be kidding,” said Dan.
“No, I’m not. Move your car.”
The officer turned toward his cruiser just as a smile broke across his face.
Dan mashed his tire rim into the curb as he backed up. When the truck and cruiser vanished, he stood alone in his driveway, looking at the love seat. Against the black asphalt, it looked forlorn and hideously pink.
He wrestled it from the ground and balanced it on his thighs, his knees bent. Lifting it higher, he hobbled to the side of the garage and dropped it under the eave. His hands trembled, his chest felt tight, and he wanted more air than he could get into his lungs.
Dragons at Work
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