Market Crash 2: The Fury of the Ray
The 5:00 hour of Saturday morning found me in the darkness of Rising Sand, making my way towards the walk-in cooler where Danny W. was busy loading up The Ray (our beastly white van) for market. I joined in and we hoisted large stacks of crates and bins from cooler to van, stepping tentatively through the dark around the trenches, stones and sketchy concrete dropoffs of the packing area. We finished unscathed and ran through our checklist, confirming that we had all of the necessary supplies before hitting the road.
“Man,” I remarked, as we closed up The Ray, “being out here in the early morning, getting loaded up like this… makes me feel like we’re going fishing or something.”
“We are dude,” Danny replied, “fishin’ for them dollaz!”
With that and a laugh we hit the road, careening eastbound towards the rising sun, enjoying the free time to talk through the logistics of our upcoming community meal. I sipped my tea as Danny drove, and the larger-than-life September sun peeked above the horizon, further animating the beauty of the foggy countryside.
Our conversation peaked as we reached Appleton, and a new mantra found us as we navigated the narrow, winding streets in our beastly van. “We’re rollin’ heavy today, dude.”
“Hell yeah; we’re rollin’ heavy!”
Heavy as we were, we steamrolled through the chaos of market-day College Ave, finally finding Madeline and getting the Appleton veggies unloaded, and me on my way. Again, I rolled heavy, toward Neenah for my first solo market in Logan Brice’s absence.
Once there, I got parked and set up in relatively short order, and took a deep breath, enjoying the beauty of the scene around me. Slowly, the foot traffic picked up, and I enjoyed the easy flow, alternating between customer interactions and solo time. My serenity was interrupted only occasionally by spurts of conversation floating over from the mobile Sysco unit next to me. “Yeah, our sausage breakfast sandwiches are really good…” Gross. “…those are my favorites, because they have the raspberry and the white chocolate…” Yeah, sounds like something you REALLY baked yourself…
Animus though I felt, it was a beautiful day, and the riverside scene was serene. The morning flew by as I did my best Logan Brice impression behind the table, and before I knew it the noon whistle blew, signalling the end of market. I loaded up, and rolled heavily back to Appleton for Danny W.
Again, I navigated uncertaintly the streets of downtown Appleton, until I reached College Ave and located Danny and Madeline. Bombing confidently in The Ray, I saw a parking spot directly in front of the tent, and turned sharply towards the tent as I passed the small, decalled bakery van behind me.
Startled, I braked abruptly and checked my side mirror. Uh oh. The side of The Raywas crunched up against the crumpled front panel of the van behind. My first reaction, oddly, was neither anguish nor despair, but honest surprise. Hmm, I can’t believe that just happened… I scanned the side mirror once again, affirming with certainty that there was no one in the driver’s seat who could have driven into me. Hmm, weird… I hopped out to face the fate of the situation, and the suppressed smirks of Danny W. and Madeline. As the small van backed away from The Ray, the front bumper thudded pathetically to the ground. Damn. I scratched my head, then took some pictures, called Oren and got on with the rigamarole of the situation.
Once the rigamarole was behind us, Danny and I headed for home; again relishing in conversation about the values and philosophy around what had now become — in our heads at least — a continuous series of community meals. Once back at Rising Sand, we unloaded, split up the leftovers for preservation for said meals, and took our leave. I took one more disbelieving lap around the Ray, eyeing the scarred side panels. Oddly, the damage seemed actually to add to the aesthetic of the machine, in a strange sort of vehicular self-actualization. Where the smaller, bumperless van had begged for mercy, The Ray, it seemed, begged for more.
Here the realization dawned on me. Anyone who’s ever driven The Ray can attest to its inherent and embodied aggression, and the crashes, growls and groans accentuating every turned corner. And me, a tried-and-true driver with over 5 years of truck driving experience and a clean record. I think we’ve got to give some honest consideration to the possibility that this incident was, in fact, a direct manifestation of the gnarled, violent soul of The Ray, rendering me little more than a vessel; the unfortunate conduit between spiritual essence and physical reality. It was destiny. How could a vehicle like The Ray, after all, survive a whole season without eating up at least one small bakery van?
How indeed? Regardless of facts, feelings, and assumptions, we can all agree that we’re dealing with forces beyond our control and comprehension, and will probably never know the whole truth. That said, I can tell you one thing, and one thing only, with complete and utter certainty.
We rolled heavy that day.