Yesterday afternoon, around 4:00pm, I gave the very first Schlock book away to a forklift operator named Jack.
Jack and I were having trouble getting the (insert epithet here) defective pallets to stay under their loads, and we realized that we were going to have to break them down. So I cut into the wrap, and the two of us re-stacked 3750 pounds of boxes into a double layer in the back of the 14″ U-Haul I’d rented. Since I wasn’t yet sure these really were MY books, I cut open one of the boxes and checked.
There should have been “level completed” them music when I opened that box. It was a powerful moment for me.
Anyway, Jack and I had been talking, and I explained to him that sure, I could have saved a few bucks having them deliver the books, but I had customers waiting, and I needed to sign them all, and oh, yeah, I’m the guy who wrote these. I handed him a book, and he checked the inside back cover. “Hey, there you are!” he said.
There I am indeed.
(Now that I’ve been into some of the boxes, I’d like to be able to give Jack the book he “nudged” with the forklift blade. It has a very, very subtle crimp in the cover — he had a gentle touch with that forklift, even with a ton of books in his prosthetic, metal arms.)
He cautioned me about the truck, saying “you’ll definitely feel it” in reference to hauling nearly two tons of printed matter over the Point of the Mountain. And as I drove off, I pondered. I ruminated. And I turned up the A/C, because I was a sweaty mess, and it was 95 degrees (35 C) outside.
It occurred to me that this very literal “sweat equity” is something I wouldn’t have gotten from this project had I not self-published. There is something noble, honest, and perhaps even sacred about manual labor like this. Sure, it’s not something I want to have to do every day in order to put bread on the table, but you have to be willing to do it. And as a result, the last 55 miles those books travelled before being handed off to the Post Office, they travelled alone with me in a rented truck. I’d like to think we bonded a little bit.
I also worried, especially when the tractor trailer full of I-beams was on my left, and the double-long tank-trailer full of gasoline was merging in on my right. The irony inherent in dying in a twisted fireball along with all 5000 copies of my first book would have been powerful stuff. I’m glad the Universal Agent In Charge Of Ironic Death (feel free to replace that string with $DEITY, $KARMA, or $MURPHY) saw fit to stay its hand. If I’m going to die ironically, I want it to be humorous irony on or around my 29th official birthday.