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Monday, June 18, 2007


A young man in his very early twenties came jogging into the shop, dressed in the inexplicable garb of the time: pants flopping over his shoes, tops of pants hanging down to show his underwear, inside out strapped t-shirt, ball cap on sideways. Now, you’ve probably seen these GQ role models for dress, but have you ever seen them try and run. It’s hilarious. It’s like the human version of March of the Penguins in double-time.

“Yo…yo…yo…” my visitor begins calling out the moment he gets through the door.

I meet him halfway into the shop, having thoroughly enjoyed his approach from across the street, where he and his buddies were trying to start a car.

I see it all here. Visitors from Berkeley arrive in: peasant dresses, beads, Birkenstocks, ponytails (now with completely bald top), tie-dyed shirts, raggedy beards (now gray). Yea, I know there were avant-garde goofballs in my generation, and I get reminded of it often, because the meatballs haven’t grown up yet. They’re still trying to pretend it’s the Summer of Love, including the drugs. They haven’t had a coherent thought since 1968 either.

Anyway, I meet my new-age stop-in.

“I’m right here, young man,” I wave, trying to get him to quit calling for me. It’s possible he doesn’t like who he’s attracted, but I don’t have anyone else to send out. “How can I help you?”

I immediately evoke forty-five seconds of gibberish my evolved interspecies translator can’t crack, and I hold up my hands, pleading for him to stop.

“Hold it. Hold it. I did not recognize a single thing you just said. Slow way down, and remember, I’m old.”

This draws a quick snort of laughter; and he nods, either in understanding, or derision. In any case, he begins speaking in English.

“Do… you… have… a… funnel… I… can… borrow?” He asks. Yep, it was derision.

I grin and go get a long plastic funnel for him. I usually require they leave their driver’s license until they bring back what they borrow; but he’s just across the street, and he ain’t going anywhere. I only loan out three items: jumper cables, gas can, or funnel. Besides, watching the March of the Penguins in double-time back across the street was going to be a treat. He does not disappoint, and nearly takes a header in the middle of the street as he stepped on his pants. He glances back toward the shop to see if I noticed. I waved of course. I had to get back to work on a Chevy starter job, so I didn’t think about it for half an hour, until when lowering the car I was working on, I saw him walking across the street with my funnel. Damn, it was still the March of the Penguins… but it just wasn’t the same. He handed me the funnel.

“Do… you… repair… cars… here?” He’s still pissed I saw him trip.

“Whatever gave you that idea?” I asked with straight face. I like this kid. I’ll play for a while. “Was it the big sign on the building, saying I repair Domestic and Asian cars and light trucks? I’m just asking cause I don’t want to waste my advertising budget on something that doesn’t work.”

He stares at me blankly for a moment.

“Yea…yea… okay…” he manages to get out. “My car still won’t start. Do you charge to check it out?”

“Oh…yes,” and I told him how much. He was not pleased. Oh no!

“Just to look at it?!” He asks with incredulity.

“No, I can look it from here. That price is to actually find out what’s wrong with it inside my repair shop.

He shakes his head in anger, and turns around. The young man forgets himself, and gives me one last double-time March of the Penguins. I almost call him back to deduct his entertainment value from the diagnostic charge; but I remind myself of the fact no price would be acceptable to him, other than free. :)


December/Stacia said...

You're my hero. I've never seen a boy dressed like that run; it must be a real treat.

BernardL said...

The ball-cap, with the bill at a ninety degree angle to his face was what really completed the ensemble, D. To his credit, I wouldn't have thought anyone could run in that outfit. :)