Unorthodox Angles/Andrew Gramling


Finding Connections: When Worlds Combine

Part 2

I wasn’t exactly looking forward to leaving Milwaukee when the Amazon delivery service I worked for changed delivery service areas. Most of my life I’ve spent in the city, so that’s where I felt most comfortable. From cities in China with a population of 4-6 million people to New York City, a city big enough to include everyone, and much more. I wanted to be where people were, even if I wasn’t always the most sociable. It was hard to feel lonely when you were surrounded by people. Out in the countryside, there was hardly anyone out to make you feel connected.

My younger experiences in the country weren’t the best for an introduction.

My friend Jared, who I had mentioned in the previous article, was from Cambridge, and he dragged me out there a couple of times.

One night a small group of us drove out there at Jared’s request. I was really bored, but the night ended with people throwing snowballs at us, a fire extinguisher being used on them, and driving off the road into a ditch because the road was icy. Not the best time.

One of our friends named Sarah went out there one day, and some guy named Dan was harassing her. She said she was pregnant, which she was, but Dan said she was lying and he was going to beat her over it. Jared told me about it, and I told him we needed to go out there immediately to teach him a lesson, which we did the next day. Sarah was very pleased when she learned that we fixed the situation.

A few years later we were at a bonfire in Cambridge, and someone came through the crowd and tried to move me with his hand so he could pass through like he was the king. I didn’t budge, and I looked to see it was Dan again. He was a little surprised to see me again, but the surprise didn’t last long. He acted like he wanted to fight me, but he didn’t do anything. It was on him to do something because he’s the one who got punked out during our first meeting, and right now when I refused to get pushed around by him. We ended up talking about it once we both cooled down, and we decided the next time we met we wouldn’t be in each other’s faces anymore, and surprisingly it happened that way. Some other guy we were there with named Kyle threw a beer bottle and accidentally hit a girl who was a foreign exchange student from Germany in the head. It was time to leave after that.

When I got older, I did door to door marketing in the country also. One guy named Danny who was about 21-years-old always got the cops called on him. It didn’t matter if we were in DeForest, Poynette, or wherever. If Danny was with us, somebody was going to call the cops, and we’d have to relocate to another town. We had many freezing cold nights wandering around in the darkness trying to find potential customers. The countryside just didn’t seem like my kind of place. I didn’t resonate with it at all. It didn’t seem like a place I’d ever get used to.

There were at least a dozen of us on any day running routes out of Sussex. We’d line up at the offsite in Pewaukee, drive to the Amazon warehouse in Sussex, load up in about 15 minutes, and then all go our separate ways. We’d usually have between 150 to 200 stops per day and at least as many packages. I only delivered on weekends, but most people drove four days a week. There was quite an interesting mix of us, and more than half the crew was made up of women. The women were actually badder than the men. I wish I WAS joking.

It was hard to get to know anybody, because we’d only see each other briefly in the beginning and then be gone all day. We would communicate by app., but the managers discouraged it from becoming Facebook style communication and wanted us to speak mostly about serious and business-related subjects.

Driving out in the country was very quiet compared to Milwaukee. There weren’t nearly as many people out, the buildings were all one to two stories tall, and there wasn’t such a variety of people. Some places seemed quite unfriendly, like one house that was down a long driveway in Oconomowoc that had a sign near the entrance that said, “Is there life after death? Trespass here and you’ll find out.”

They had a horse pen on the way to the house, and I stopped and got out to pet the horses one time. The woman who lived there came up shortly after I had begun petting the horses and I asked her if she minded, remembering the sign out front. She was actually very kind and said she didn’t mind at all, but she asked me if I could make sure I didn’t drive too quickly so the horses wouldn’t get scared. That was an easy request to fulfill. The two horses’ names were Tango and Cash, surprisingly by coincidence because they named the first horse Cash, but the second horse they bought was already named Tango.

It seemed like the people out here for the most part, despite whatever they had going on the surface, were decent people underneath. Most people would wave to me when I drove past them on the road. Some people would leave food and drinks for the drivers and leave a note of gratitude for our service. I even met a few distant relatives who went back about five generations who I had always wondered about. Since our family first came to this land from Europe, there were still some old ties here. The place where my grandparents were buried was in a cemetery on a long country road next to St. Bruno’s Church in Dousman. I passed it several times and then finally decided to pay them a visit.

“Why am I here right now? Why was I called back to this place?” I asked myself as I stood in front of their graves, wondering if they were watching me from someplace above. I felt all alone out here in the country, but life never stays the same. The wheels keep turning. Which way they turned was hard for anybody to guess.