Every morning, long before the winter’s dawn, and long after the summer’s dawn, but always before I am ready to rise, the overly large truck races up the hill by my home. The hill is not too long, but there is a long straight way after the driver crests the top of the hill. He races up the hill, with his souped up exhaust that literally roars with vigor after sitting silent most of the night. It’s 5 AM, and he is on his way to work. He will come home at 6:30 AM, but braking down the hill to the four-way stop doesn’t have the same thrill as racing up the hill. By the time he showers and eats breakfast to return to his normal work day, I will be gone already, walking past his home where that truck sits to my bus stop. It seems absurd… the seat of the truck is higher than my head, and the tops of the tires are nearly to my shoulders. This soldier works every day, but never does he tire of his 5 AM joy ride up the hill. He does not seem to care that my windows rattle or that I am woken a full hour before my alarm goes off. He does not apologize for the daily inconvenience I experience, and it annoys me. Sometimes the annoyance is mild, but sometimes I could rant and rave if faced with this man.
Imagine then, that one morning, I woke to my alarm at 6 AM and not to the usual rattle and roar of my neighborhood soldier off to PT at 5 AM. Even on holidays, he never strayed from that particularly annoying version of a rooster’s crow so I wondered if he slept in, or perhaps he earned a day off. The following morning, I happily awoke to my alarm instead of his truck, and I felt wonderfully rested and refreshed after a full night’s sleep. And, so it seemed that the soldier’s routine had changed. The truck still sat in the driveway, so nothing too serious had changed. Perhaps he was given temporary duty somewhere else. I gradually got used to sleeping in until 6, and I was even late for work once or twice without the benefit of a 5 AM drag race to wake me.
But a few weeks later, as I walked home from the bus stop, I saw a soldier in uniform, being assisted from the van that sat next to the truck that had been silent at 5 AM these past mornings. It took longer than it should have for my brain to understand the implied turn of events. Maybe the soldier had been deployed and injured. Maybe the soldier had just been injured. Whatever the reason… the soldier had indeed been injured, and he could no longer race his monster truck up the hill to the long straight way at the top.
And so now, when I walk by his truck, still covered in snow from the weekend, rather than cleared off and warmed up, I send good thoughts his way and regret the years that I resented him for waking me up every day at 5 AM.