The whistle signaling quitting time was always his favorite time. It was the high water mark for the rest of the day, representing that first moment of freedom matched with the highest level of energy he’d have for the rest of the night. He turned his dirty earth-moving machine off, ceasing the rumble in his seat and in the engine. Quietly, he pulled the earplugs from his ears, and collected his gloves and cooler. The cooler held remnants of his lunch which had consisted of two ham and cheese sandwiches, a dill pickle, a bag of chips, and an apple.
Each step back to his truck, parked four blocks away, ached down into his core. Shifting his weight right, he could feel the burn on his ankle and knee. Shifting his weight left provided the same effect on the other side.
The cooler dangled from his neck by a scrap of black and orange nylon rope and the heft of it swayed back and forth across his chest with each heavy step.
The truck, in a sea of trucks, was moved toward with the slow, exhausted steps of a soul lost in the desert, inching its way to an oasis. Once in the car, once the key turned over the ignition, and once the air conditioner quenched the hot, flushed feeling on his face, he began the long drive home.
Getting home safely was always a challenge though that five o’clock lull. He could feel his energy waning. Being at rest, settling into the plush driver side seat, his eyelids grew heavy. He sighed and snapped himself back into wakefulness.
Every few moments his head would droop with his eyes and he’d awake with a jerk, almost over correcting the wheel of his truck into another car.
The closer he got to his home, the more his body ached for his easy chair and his booted feet yearned to decompress in the open air. As he pulled in to the driveway he could almost feel his soft, comfy easy chair conform around him, and before he knew it, that was the case. He kicked his shoes off, pulled the remote from his side table and clicked on the television. With two hundred channels, there was still nothing on, but that was okay since his brain wasn’t on either.
The rest of this story has been collected in a three pack of stories called "The Whiskey Doctor and other stories of the New Great Depression". It's available digitally for Kindle and the Nook.