Green Beasts

My commute takes me past the sanitary landfill every morning, a daily reminder to be careful about what I throw away, and what I can recycle. Driving by the dump doesn’t bother me per se, but the maniacs who drive the dump trucks do. I’ve learned to watch the turn into the dump, watching for the massive metal beasts, trying to anticipate when they’ll pull out, and if I’ll have to swerve out of their way.

They take left turns towards Des Moines, swinging out into the fast lane of 163 and hitting the gas. So far they haven’t hit me, but any time someone pulls into the road in the adjacent lane I get nervous. They appear too quickly, not yet with the flow of the traffic, a towering green structure of steel on wheels tilting slightly towards the top from the force of the turn. The dump trucks accelerate quickly, first matching my speed, then passing it. They’re in a hurry, they’ve got a job to do.

I get out of their way.

This morning one passed me on the bypass; I was going seventy.

It’s hard to be critical of someone doing their job, doubly so when their job is driving a dump truck. It’s not exactly the most desirable job in the world, although I understand they are well compensated. The trucks take me out of my own little world and remind me of our human bravery. Every day I spend hours hurtling down asphalt in my own steel beast, one mistake away from certain death. It happens every day; the sign on 235 says over three hundred people have died on the roads in Des Moines this year. We never think it could happen to us, until it does. I never think it could happen to me, until a green dump truck swings into the road unexpectedly and scares me half to death.