“What the hell’s wrong with you!!?”
I stopped all motion, my shop key still in position to unlock my office door. I turned slowly, taking a deep breath of balmy Monday morning air. I didn’t want to spin around like a top; because the voice had come from across the street, and showing fear in a place where some of the denizens feed on it like Rice Krispies is always a bad idea. A man around six feet tall, of average build, wearing a blue windbreaker bore down on me with long strides. He looked in his late twenties, complete with Fu Manchu mustache from the 1960’s, but with one of those ear gizmo cell-phones from the present day. His long brown hair was tied in a ponytail, and his hands were clenching and unclenching as he nervously glanced both ways so as not to end his long anticipated meeting under the wheels of a passing car or truck on
I waited until there was no doubt he was going to violate my air space, and took a step back, putting up the stop sign.
“Whoa there hoss,” accompanying my straight arm, hand palm out stop sign with a few amiable words. “You’re getting ready to end this conversation before it ever begins. I can hear you fine from there.”
“Don’t you ever pick up your f**&^g phone!” The man asks, his face jutted forward, as if he wants to dart into my established demilitarized zone. “I called and left messages all weekend long!”
“I don’t work on weekends, Sir. What…”
“Don’t you check your God D**m messages!? What about emergencies?!”
“I’m not a doctor, and I don’t play one on TV. No one dies from car breakdowns, with the possible exception of aggravation. The only emergency work I do on weekends is if my wife tells me to mow the lawn or I can sleep in the spare room. Now…”
“You mean to tell me you never check your phone messages when your shop’s closed?” The man is in open-mouthed wonder. I didn’t get him with humor, but I nailed him with my utter coldhearted contempt for my phone.
“Never have, never will,” I shrug with my best ‘what me worry’ grin.
“What the hell way to run a business is that?” He asks, his voice at low volume, in stunned awe of my nonchalant sacred phone attitude.
“Actually,” I reply brightly, turning to unlock my office door, “it’s my business. I’m the owner. Unfortunately, I don’t have a suggestion box, so consider your objections duly noted. Anything else?”
“My… my Nissan pickup’s been stuck down at the corner of High Street and Allendale since Saturday morning,” he answers, almost a shadow of his former self. He gives me the one finger hold button, indicating he’s received an all important call in his ear.
I shut the door and go through the office to open up my main entryway, taking the universal wave off in good humor. Once the main entrance is open, I see my new buddy has regained some of his balance. I figure his incoming call must have charged up his self importance somewhat.
“Would you like to have your Nissan towed in?” I asked politely. “I charge seventy-five dollars for the diagnostic, and then I’ll have to call you with an estimate of whatever’s wrong.”
“I don’t think I can do business with someone who isn’t connected,” the man informs me with a straight face, waiting for me to assure him otherwise.
I laughed, thinking I misjudged the guy, and he does have a sense of humor. Nope, I was right the first time.
“What the hell is so funny?” He asks, his irritation returning in waves.
“Well, if you meant connected to reality, the answer is yes. If you meant to some cyber-robot’s grid, the answer is no, I’m not connected. Want your Nissan fixed, or not. You have five… four… I begin counting seconds off on my hand for my own amusement… three… two…”
“I… guess I want to have my truck towed in,” he admits before the time limit, deflated once more.