Saturday, April 12, 2014

Shipping And Receiving

Loading docks and parking lots on days off yield subtle mystery. There is something akin to sacredness around those utilitarian spaces when they are empty or abandoned. Stillness deepens in these spots when the vehicles aren't around. One can walk at leisure without fear of injury or prying eyes.
    The quiet unfolds with each step. The air may not be clean but one's thoughts are. These places allow extra contemplation. They are semi-wild spaces. The debris that accumulates in the corners, between concrete and asphalt is of a particular kind. Sun bleached, scored with gravel scratches, dry cleaned and left exposed. Rusted washers, broken knots of wire, cloudy glass shards, errant plastic bits, pocked paper scraps.
    It's here that our civilization comes to rest. One can sit, legs dangling from the dock and stare at the container off to the side, the misplaced shopping cart in the grass, the fence sagging with age and neglect. One can finger the layers of tire rubber making bumpers, the stark cement curbs, the metal plates blasted by the elements, yellow warning paint flaked off.
    When work isn't happening here, nothing happens here. A visitor doesn't belong because this place is not meant for visitors. Teenagers do not loiter here. This place is a secret kept in the open. It's strewn with clues that point to something but off-hours the crass voices and dick jokes are beyond mute, they've never existed. Like warm work buds dissolve into their own private lives after the five o'clock bell, this place, this empty lot cancels whatever noise it saw during the day.
    I love these momentary zones, pregnant with silence. The trucks will come again, the jiggers and dollies will scrape pavement, boxes will cover ground, plastic film will get snagged, orders will be barked, pallets piled high. And after all that, the hidden action of our urban world will once again grow quiet.