“Hey… you screwed up my car!” The man didn’t say screwed, but I doubt we need another blog full of colorful language not vital to the story. This semantic gentleman I will dub Foul Mouth had just driven a 1998 Cad into my shop, and he was not happy. He was about sixty, and since I’m pretty close to that I figured those veins popping out on his face were not a healthy sign. Mr. Mouth’s hair was mostly gray, and wildly wound around his head in no particular form. It could have been a rug; but I would think if a guy wants to put one of those on his head, he’d make it neater looking. Slightly taller than I am, maybe around six feet one, he outweighed me by about fifty pounds. I noticed right off he was puffing hard on a cigarette which never left his mouth, so he talked, or yelled out of the side opposite the cigarette. The eye on the side of his mouth, clamping on his habit, squinted in the leering way chain smokers have when the cigarette they’re working on never leaves their mouth until only the useless filter’s left. He was wearing gray slacks with burn marks, white T-shirt, and red-print short sleeved shirt over the undershirt, but left unbuttoned. I had a problem here right off: I’d never seen the guy or his car before in my life. Some folks send their relatives over to leave off cars, so maybe this was a surrogate customer.
“Hi, can I help you,” I ask, walking through the shop toward him. Foul stays with his car door open, and one foot still inside. As I near the Cad front bumper, the smell of bourbon drifts to my sensitive nose. I am considering changing his name to Noxious Fumes. This is a definite second problem since it’s only 11:00 AM. I stop.
“You screwed up my car!” Mr. Mouth repeats, and now I can see his one fully open eye is alternating between half mast and open. It goes to half mast each time Foul rocks forward with his hand on the car door for support.
“Are you sure you have the right garage, Sir?”
“Damn right… I have the invoice here…” Foul dives inside his car. It takes him five minutes to get his invoice off the passenger seat and flop around until he’s able to get back out of the car. “Here…”
I dip inside the fumes, take the invoice, and back away. Mr. Mouth had his right rear quarter panel fixed, and a paint job done at Nelson’s Auto Body. Oh boy, this is going to be fun. Foul is only a city off. Nelson’s Auto Body is in
“You’ve made a mistake, Sir. This is Nilson Brothers Garage not Nelson’s Auto Body,” I inform him politely as his face goes to lava red. “Let me show you one of my invoices so you can see for yourself.”
“#@@##$$%^*()**##!! You…you’re trying to rip me off!” Foul states plainly. His fists are clenching and unclenching as he does the slight side to side dance of the enraged and inebriated nitwit.
“Look, calm down,” I urge him quietly, walking around the Cad. It looked great. “You’ve come to the wrong shop, but it looks like Nelson’s Auto Body did a nice job on your quarter panel and paint job. What kind of problem…”
“Not the… paint job… you idiot!” Foul is a couple seconds from a coronary; and I’m only a few feet away from one of my planted 900,000 volt stun guns, but I doubt he’d survive the attitude adjustment. “It stalls… every damn time… I come to a stop.”
“Maybe, but I doubt the body work and paint job’s causing it,” I reason with him firmly. “You do know you have the wrong place now, right?”
“Yea…” Foul’s color starts to fade a little. “I…I spent a lot of money…”
“True, but you received your money’s worth on the paint and body job. It looks great. Do you have a shop you go to for regular repairs?” He better.
“Yea… I got one…”
“Good,” I remark, jotting down his license plate number. “Now, there’s a parking space right out in front of the shop. I think you’re okay to park it there if I watch for traffic. Park it, and I’ll call you a cab, or if you live around here, you can walk home. It’ll do you good.”
“I’m not… leaving my damn car here… I…”
“You’ll leave it here, or the moment you drive anywhere, I’m calling the police.”
“Why you…” Foul’s color is coming back as he lurches angrily around the Cad.
“Don’t kid yourself,” I give him the halt sign. “Although you’re probably out there driving drunk every day for all I know, today ain’t going to be one of them.”
“Don’t lecture me… asshole… I…” Foul notices he’s sucked the life out of the cigarette between his lips, and replaces it nervously with another. His hand shakes as he lights it.
“You’re going to have to leave. You can park your car, or drive it away, and get picked up for DUI. Your choice,” I inform him calmly. “I think you have enough problems without adding an arrest. I’m betting if I called the police with your name, they probably already know you all too well.”
Yep, they do, I see as his cigarette droops down on his lip. He realizes I have his name and address from the Nelson Auto Body invoice I’m still holding.
“Want me to call you a cab?”
“No… I’ll park it... and walk,” Foul answers quietly, getting back into the Cad.
“I’ll guide you out,” I reply, handing him back his invoice after jotting down the information while he watched. His street is only three blocks down
Minutes later, I’m watching Foul walk awkwardly down 38th, smoke billowing out of him as if he were a walking steam engine. I look up at my clock, and I’ve only lost a half hour. Wooo…hooo…