Tuesday, January 22, 2019


I take my seat in the cramped, dark space and face forward, sliding the door shut behind me. I know he's there, but I can't see him clearly. But that's okay. I kind of like that I can't see his face. I can't see the judgement or amusement that might cross his features. I can speak freely here; unreserved. He's just mostly here to listen. In this space, words seem to pour out of me, lifting some of my burdens and cleansing a part of my soul.

This pass van was my own personal confessional booth and it was an intricate part of my existence.

I'm not sure how it happened. How it started. But I got to know one of the drivers on my show. I'd somehow always end up in his van on the drive from crew parking to set, or from one location to the next, and sometimes, I'd be the only passenger. Just me in the back. On these trips, when it was just the two of us, we'd start talking. Small talk at first. About where we're from, what part of town we live in now, if we have any siblings, etc.

Soon enough, we'd start talking about our day, and soon after that, we'd talk about the... "idiosyncrasies" of our respective departments.

On this particular show, I wasn't getting along with a few people in my department and it upset me because these were people who I got along with so well before. They were like family at some point, but now, for whatever reason, they were ganging up on me so much that even other departments would ask me why they hated me so much. I'd smile and give a polite shrug, staying politically neutral. I still have to work with these people, after all, and feeding the gossip mill is feeding the fire. So I took the high road and kept my opinions to myself.

Unless I was in the van. With just the two of us, I felt safe. I'd seen him before around other crew members, and he was always quiet, even with the boys in his own department. He was one of the few who didn't partake in gossip. He never egged anyone on to spill any and he definitely didn't spread it. I knew he wouldn't tell my secrets. He was more of a listener than a talker, and so, when I slid in to the empty backseat of his pass van, I would talk.

I'd tell him everything. Why my co-workers were turning on me. Which one started it and why the others followed. What they'd do to make my day miserable. I'd tell them about how I was blamed for equipment not being ordered when it even wasn't my responsibility to order equipment. How I'd cover for my co-workers when they made a mistake on set, yet they'd still talk shit about me to anyone who would listen. I told him the only reason why I was staying was because this job came with a promise of better things down the line. And hell, I wasn't going to leave. I busted my ass to be here. I had earned my spot and I wasn't going to leave it because of some assholes.

I told him everything, and he'd sit there in the driver's seat and just listen, not really saying much. But that was fine with me. I didn't need advice. I wasn't looking for sympathy.

I just needed to unload. And I needed someone to listen. And I needed to feel heard, even if it was just for a few moments to an audience of one.

And sometimes, he'd talk to me. Never turning around to look at me, he'd stay in his seat, still facing forward, and just talk. He'd tell me about the bad decisions he made in his life. Why he almost got fired from his last job. How he planned on making ends meet. And I would sit there and listen to him like he would for me. I wouldn't tell anyone his secrets either. They were safe with me.

Looking back, I guess it seemed a little odd, us having one-way conversations and not even look at each other. But in some ways, I feel like that's what made things easier. In some ways, it's easier to spill your guts to someone you can't see. Kind of like talking into the darkness. You can't see their reaction. You can't be judged. Not that I'd judge him. The van had became a safe space.

I was never raised with any particular religion, so I never went to confession. But for a few minutes each day, I understood why they say that confession is good for the soul. I didn't have any sins to confess, but just telling someone my problems, even it if was met with mostly silence, was enough to get me through the show. I almost went crazy from dealing with all the drama my colleagues were causing me. And I may have almost quit. But this small act was enough to keep me going.

The show, as all shows do, eventually ended and the driver disappeared to wherever co-workers go until the next time I see them.

But now, whenever I slide into the back seat of a van, and it's just me and the driver, I smile a little as I remember my own private confessional booth, and how it made all the difference in the world.

1 comment :

Michael Taylor said...

Very nice. Although I had my share of conversations with van drivers, they never reached this level - but there's definitely something to be said for being able to unload on a non-judgmental third party. Like the relief valve on a pressure cooker, it lets the excess steam out, and helps you keep from blowing up in the kitchen. Sounds like you received most of the benefits of therapy without the steep end-of-session bill...

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