On a Truck Driver

Jim needed a delivery guy.

He interviewed a few people, if you call asking people if they could drive a delivery truck an interview. In any case, Jim was almost driven to despair–no pun intended. Most of the young men Jim spoke with could barely keep their mouths closed long enough so that the flies that swarmed in Memphis that summer wouldn’t make homes inside. He was getting so desperate that he considered hiring his wife, Gladys, to make the deliveries.

It’s not that the job was difficult. This wasn’t a large delivery truck, after all. The job called for the driver to simply run electric supplies like spools of wire, light switches and fixtures, and outlets to building sites from the Crown Electric Company warehouse on Dunlap Street. Easy peasy, right? Well, you’d think so.

Finally, an incredibly polite, almost shy young man showed up brandishing the want ad from the Memphis Commercial Appeal newspaper which he had carefully torn out. Jim took the young man to the truck. “Think you can show up on time?” Jim asked. “Yessir,” the young man answered. “Can I trust you?” Jim asked. This made the young man smile. “Well, if you ever have reason to not trust me, Mr. Tripler, my Momma would have my hide,” he answered. “Whereabouts you from?” Jim asked. “Mississippi. Sir,” the fellow said.

Jim asked him why he wanted the job. The young man said that he hoped to one day become an electrician, and that if he started at least working for an electric supply company, that he might just get a foot in the door of that profession. Jim was impressed with the young man’s gumption.

“The job’s yours,” Jim said, and he handed the young man the truck keys. “There’s a delivery that’s needed out on Union Avenue. Know where that is?” “Yessir,” came the polite answer, again. The young man began to get in the truck, but he hesitated. “What’s wrong?” Jim asked. “Well, the ad says the job pays $1.25 an hour. Is that right?” Jim grinned. “Now, you said I could trust you, and you gotta trust me,” Jim said. “After all, I got a Momma that I have to answer to as well,” he added with a grin.

And so, Jim found himself a delivery guy. The boss and the employee soon became friends. Jim learned that the fellow’s mother shared the same name as his wife. Years later, as Jim would re-tell the story, he would always emphasize how polite the young man was and how close he was to his mother.

After some time on the job, the young man had an opportunity to improve himself by taking a job in the entertainment industry. Jim was sorry to lose his young friend and delivery driver, but he was happy for the polite young man from Mississippi. He never forgot him.

And Elvis Presley never forgot Jim Tripler, either.


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