Oh yeah, Roger was a special guy. I worked with Roger. Worked with him, oh for about four years or so. Roger was smart. Well, Roger was as smart as Roger wanted to be. He had a logical way of thinking but a lot of times, it seemed as though Roger would hide that logic when he was talking to me, or really to anyone. It was there all right. I know that the logic was there. I had heard that logic slip out once in a while from Roger. I think, looking back on it, that Roger thought that logic made things seem too serious. I think Roger preferred to keep things light with a little bit of funny thrown in to keep things kind of smooth.
I never heard Roger argue with anyone or anything. Now, that isn't to say he wasn't above complaining or something like that. I heard Roger complain a lot of times to our boss about how things were being decided and how he thought that things should be done a different way. Not necessarily a logical way, just a different way. Roger could grab a hold of something that came down from the ivory towers and hold onto it for days, sometimes for weeks and while he was holding onto whatever it was that was bothering him he would complain. Lot's of times he knew that his complaining was not wanted or needed and at times such as those, Roger would complain to himself. He would complain like someone who was thinking something out to themselves but having to hear the words of the thought to process it. That's what Roger would do. He would talk, or rather complain, to himself out loud. Not loud enough to really catch the ear of anyone who mattered, but just loud enough to catch my ear. I swear it would get annoying at times when Roger would start complaining to himself. I would much rather he complain out loud, to somebody, and get it out of his system. When a man holds his thoughts inside to himself, they seem to stay there longer. So it was with Roger. This complaining to himself did nothing to ease his mind on a subject. If anything it made him complain more. Soon he would be complaining about his complaining, just like everyone else. Eventually, again just like everyone else, Roger would tire of hearing himself complain and slowly his irritant would slip from his mind and his thinking.
Roger was not a big man. He was about five feet and nine inches tall I suppose and skinny as a rail. I bet he didn't weigh much more than a hundred and forty if that much. His hair was kind of long but you would never really know it. He must have gone through a tube of Brylcream a month greasing that hair down. On the other hand, maybe he didn't use any grease on his hair. I never really asked him about it but I suppose it could be that Roger just didn't wash his hair very often. He seemed like a clean man though. His clothes were always clean and I never noticed any odor drifting my was from him. I have to give Roger the benefit of the doubt that he did wash his hair just on those facts. He was clean otherwise, so why wouldn't he wash his hair even if it were just to go plaster grease on it once it was clean. If he felt comfortable doing that then I suppose it is fine by me.
Roger, he was not much of a socializer. Not even sure if that is a word, but he wasn't. He didn't go out to lunch and seldom, if ever, ate lunch with anybody else. He would sit off by himself slowly eating a sandwich he had made that morning and washing it down with coffee. As he ate you could see him thinking. He wouldn't read the newspaper. Sometimes he would listen to a small radio he sometimes carried to get his news. Most of the time though, while Roger was eating, he would sit still, looking out into someplace in space very intensely I am not sure what he would be thinking from day to day, but I could tell he was mulling something over in that brain of his. It was during lunch breaks that Roger really looked lonely while he was thinking.
I always thought Roger had to be a lonely person. I guess that is what the definition of a loner is really. He was not married and made no mention of anyone else in his life. He never mentioned parents or siblings or lovers or even friends for that matter. As far as I knew his life was on the job. I have no idea where he played out the rest of his life when not at work. He was someone who would appear at seven in the morning and disappear at three thirty that afternoon. He was never late and never left early. He was at the time clock with his card at precisely the same time twice every day. He was consistent, I will say that for him.
But back to this business of being lonely. He was lonely. I think he was probably about fifteen years my senior although when you are young, older people seem to be a lot older then what they really are. He could have only been ten years older than me. I don't understand how somebody as smart as Roger was did not seem to have anyone anywhere in his life. Is it possible for somebody to be that totally alone as Roger made himself out to be? He didn't seem to have anything to spend his money on. The car that carried him around town was old and rusty as well as noisy. I think he had just the one car the whole time I knew him. I suppose that car could be counted as a friend although he didn't talk about the car much either. When Roger did talk about anything other than work, it was never about anyone he knew. Every once in a while he would throw out a very short and fast opinion on politics but never followed through or expanded on it. Sometimes when he would arrive at work, he would relate something that had happened on the road while he was coming to work. Never knew what road it was, just that he was driving on a road and it was between where he made his home and where work was.
Roger did laugh. He laughed quite a bit actually. Most of the time he was laughing you wouldn't be able to hear it. He would be listening to somebody else talking and then something humorous might be said and his lips would curl up into a small smile while his shoulders shook a time or two. No noise would accompany this mind you and the laugh only last a matter of seconds, definitely not more than a minute. Every once in a while though something would really get a hold of Rogers sense of humor and noise would escape from his lips while his shoulder's were shaking. It was kind of a strange sound, in between a snore and a snort if you can imagine that. Usually three of these sounds would be heard before Roger got control of himself and fell silent again.
Now, I don't want you to think that Roger never talked, because he did. He just didn't talk very often. He was interested in things and if he over heard you talking to someone about something that interested him, me might talk to you or ask you a question or two about the topic later. Sometimes, if he was really interested in something, he might actually join a conversation already in progress among a group of people. And then there were the times when he would be so interested or familiar with a subject that he might even reveal a little of himself, his private self, while talking in one of these conversations. That was a rarity though.
One day, Roger didn't show up at work. It wasn't just a one day missing work kind of thing. Roger didn't show up for work that one day, or everyday after that one day. I am not sure where Roger had gone to or what Roger had decided to do. I never saw him again. There are lots of possibilities as to what happened to Roger. I don't really know. I didn't go around asking questions of anyone about knowing what happened to Roger. He may have gone out and found another job. Five years at one place, five years of getting to know the same people everyday, may have been to much for a person like Roger. As far as that goes, I suppose it is possible he may have left the state entirely. Maybe he took off out west somewhere. Loners do that a lot don't they? I mean kind of like a nomad or something? Just pick and go, always needing to be on the move, looking for something different? I can see Roger being like that. Just wake up one morning, look around the room where ever he is staying and just sigh and pack up and go. I guess that is what I hope happened to Roger. That is what I decided to believe. Just packed up and went. Gone without a trace. Headed to Arizona or somewhere like that.
The alternative is too hard to even think about. What if Roger died. One night, his heart just quit. It could happen I suppose. Heart attacks happen all the time to people. The thing about Roger is, well, that he was a loner. You see? Who would know he had died? No family as far as we knew. No close friends. I am not even sure if he had a telephone. The police would find him, eventually figure out who he was, and then, well I am not sure what they do with people who die and don't have anybody to tell.
What if he lingered before he died. Lying on his bed, staring at the ceiling and thinking that this was it. All lone and dying. They say that dying is the sure thing you have to do by yourself, but you don't have to be alone while doing it, at least I don't think that it would be a very pleasant feeling on which to die. A loner, dying alone.