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Friday, February 2, 2007

Morning Visitor

I first hear somebody mumbling incoherently, and then my motion detector chimes. Pulling my head from the maw of a 1999 Ford F250 truck, I glance around the hood to see a guy in his middle thirties gyrating by himself to some unheard sound. He didn’t drive in, so I’m on alert as I walk over to give him my welcome to Nilson Brothers Garage spiel. The distinct scent of bourbon assaulted me as I drew near. Glancing up at the wall clock, I see happy hour started early this morning.

“Hi, can I help you?” I ask with my most concerned and interested look. I’m neither.

He looks at me, spews out a few paragraphs of street lingo I can’t decipher, and then holds his arms out. The man walks toward me, mumbling, with a crooked smile on his face, and glazed over eyes.

Oh my God, he thinks he’s going to hug me, as I bend slightly away and put out the stop sign.

“Woe there, hoss, I don’t even hug my wife,” I explain, as he gets a disappointed look on his face. Oh no, I’ve hurt his feelings.

He gestures in a come hither motion with his hands, zinging out fifty or so unrecognizable words as he tries to maneuver past my extended left arm, personal air space palm protector. Not going to happen.

“Step back, Sir, and slow the speech down,” I instruct him forcefully. “I have no idea what you’re saying, and there won’t be any hugs, kisses, or hand slaps. Back off, and explain slowly how I can be of service. You do know this is an automotive repair garage, right? On the other hand, I hope you ain’t driving.”

I hear a few things as he drops his hands to his sides like he’s crushed: something with man, neighbor, and giving him bus fare. Not going to happen.

“Sir, I don’t give out money here. I fix cars and trucks. I’d suggest you walk down to McArthur Blvd, and sit down on the bench there until you can…”

“I ain’t walkin’ to McArthur, you *?$##%^^*!”

I start grinning, because he’s straightened, and his eyes have become clearer mysteriously. “Suit yourself, Sir; but if you don’t have a car, we have no further business to conduct. On the upside, I did understand what you said.”

He gets a mean look on his face, and stands there glaring at me for a moment. Deciding he’s wasted enough of his 9:30AM buzz, he turns and dances out, glancing back with a string of epithets every few feet. Wow, Friday starts out with a bang. Things could be worse. I could be walking drunk down 38th Avenue in Oakland at 9:30 in the morning. :)

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