My Dad, The Garbage Man!
After Jeff left, my Dad came back. We weren’t sure about things because Dad showed up drunk. He didn’t come back with any determination to change or make things better; he just showed up. Mom was kind of ticked off and said he could spend the night. Dad slept on the couch for a week; then he moved into the bedroom with Mom.
Mom was going to give him a chance if he stayed sober. She ran Dewey off when he came to see Dad, but that only lasted a little while. Dad and Mom didn’t know what had happened to me over the past three years as it related to the pedophile. They would have blamed each other and nothing good would have come from them knowing. I didn’t blame either of them. But I do know that if they had a better marriage, I wouldn’t have suffered in such a way.
Dad came home one day all proud as a peacock. He said, “Shirley, I got me a job. Al Jackson got the contract out at the base for the garbage route and he’s paying me four dollars an hour to be the garbage man. Fool! I would have done it for free cause of all the fringe benefits. Man! Imagine that. $4.00 an hour and all we can eat. The Kroshus family went from the bottom of the food chain to the top of the food chain in one day; life would never be the same.
For some reason, I didn’t share my Dad’s excitement. You see, we lived one street over from the high school and the elementary school. My Dad would always park the garbage truck right in front of the house. I was at the age of thirteen or fourteen and image began to be an important item. There had been rumors floating around about my Dad’s new occupation; we were ever on the alert to diffuse any of these misconceptions. I told people that my Dad was a mechanic for Al Jackson and that my Dad kept all of Al Jackson’s equipment working, including the garbage truck, ‘cause my Dad was a great mechanic. He could fix all kinds of equipment. But the rumors persisted.
At 3:00 pm I would leave class to go the bathroom to relieve my bladder. The next fifteen minutes were the most stressful of each day. When I was under pressure, I seemed to have an extra need for bathroom privileges. As school let out, dozens of kids would walk directly past my house. My black friend, Stevie Brown, was always trying to put you on the spot in front of others. As we walked by my house, there it was; my bad dream. The garbage truck couldn’t have been more in front of my house than it was. But I was prepared.
Stevie looked at my house and said “Jimmy, is yo daddy the garbage man?” I shot back, “No foo”!!!! Stevie said, “Then, why is the garbage truck in front of yo house? I said “Foo, my Daddy, he works for Al Jackson as his mechanic to keep all his trucks running.” Stevie said, “Then, why did I see yo daddy driving the garbage truck?” I said “Foo, after my daddy be fixing the garbage truck, he have to test drive it, foo.” Stevie said, “Then, how come I saw yo daddy down in Babbit, emptying the garbage cans into the garbage truck foo?” I said “Foo, after he fixes the garbage truck, cause he the mechanic for all Al Jackson’s equipment, he have to test drive it with weight in it, foo.” Stevie said, “Foo, you in denial.” I said, “Foo, I am not!”
The next couple years were great years for the Kroshus household. Never missed a meal. Had new, I mean, different clothes all the time. Always had bikes, shoes, toys and good Christmas and Birthdays.
Authors’ note: It really became unbearable when Dad started referring to us as a two car family, he even said we owned a motor-home. We even went camping in the motor-home, but the zenith of my humiliation came when Dad loaded us up and took us to the drive in movie. All us kids hid in the back so Dad only had to pay for Mom and him. Dad wanted Mom to hide in the back with us or at least duck down but she refused. Once inside, Dad backed up to the screen and opened the garbage truck doors and there we sat watching the movie "Paint Your Wagon" it was a funny movie. Dad’s favorite actor was Lee Marvin. Lee Marvin played a falling down drunk in the movie.