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Thursday, November 1, 2007


I heard a car with very high idle revving up into my shop, just before the motion detector went off. I didn’t have time to walk around the car I was working on before the driver beeped his horn for attention. This is on a par with an author sending out a query letter, stating in the first line the agent would be an idiot not to represent the author’s work. I approached the old 1984 Honda, with real interest now I’d been beeped at. Two men, one in his early twenties, and one in his late twenties, jumped out of the car, leaving it running at high rev.

“Can I help you?” I asked the driver, while keeping an eye on the guy approaching rapidly from the passenger side. The driver gestured at the car, rolling his eyes and not saying anything. Oh great, a mime. I hate mimes.

“Say man, I need you to show me how to turn down the idle speed on this,” the guy from the passenger side speaks for the mime.

The middle eighties Honda has one of the most screwed up monstrosities for a carburetor ever designed. It has a plethora of vacuum hoses streaming out of it in all directions, and multitudes of problems I won’t bore any of you with. Needless to say I had no intention of wasting the next half hour showing beep-beep and his friend how to do anything on the Honda.

“Sorry, the only thing I can do is make you an appointment to leave the car off for a diagnostic check,” and I tell them how much. The mime immediately throws his hands up in the air in disgust; and does a little walk around, shaking his head.

“Look, I had a guy turn up the idle, but I wasn’t watchin’,” the passenger informed me. “I’ll give you a few bucks to show me where to turn it down at.”

“I don’t work like that, and especially not on one of these old Hondas. Find the guy who turned it up for you and have him show you,” I tell him, as he opts to now try and invade my airspace (three feet minimum, for all those not familiar with my preference from prior blog descriptions). I hold up a hand. “If you can do a palm reading on this hand, Sir, you’re too close.”

“Just turn down the damn idle for me!” He tries a little high volume persuasion, as he backs away slightly.

“Not going to happen, Sir,” I inform him politely. He stares at me. This is good stuff. I’m already making blog notes in my head: a beep-beep, a mime, an attempted personal airspace invasion, ordered to do a freebie in my own shop, and a stare down.

I lost the stare down. I couldn’t help it. I smiled first. Then the mime comes over and gestures for the passenger to get into the car.

“C’mon, let’s go,” the mime speaks, as he slides behind the wheel and slams his door.

The passenger stares for another moment, consolidating his win in the stare-down I guess, and then gets in on the passenger side. The Honda rev’s out the shop doorway, and zooms down the street in a huff. I admit I lost the stare-down; but I did provoke the mime into speaking. :) Another meaningful interaction in the Naked City.


Erica R said...

OMG, a beep-beep mime. At least Sir Passenger didn't misunderstand your personal space gesture and high-five you.

I always lose stare-downs, even when I instigate them. (Tried to instigate one with a drunk woman who jabbered loudly through an entire play last night, but every time she made eye contact with me, I looked away involuntarily. Damn it.)

December/Stacia said...

Because cursing and commanding people to do things is the way to get help.

BernardL said...

It's really hard to provoke politeness in a drunk, Erica, so it's just as well you looked away. I never look away; but I had to smile, instead of maintain my Vulcan Death Stare, because he was getting funnier by the second. :)

Yea, D, people do opt for belligerent these days, especially when they're trying to coerce something for nothing.

Tempest Knight said...

*LOL* You sure have a good place where to draw weird characters for your stories.

BernardL said...

I wish I'd had this outlet years ago, TK. When the strange ones come in now, I go with the flow, and write them up. In the past, I would have gotten rid of beep-beep and his buddy within five minutes. With the entertainment value, I stick with the conversation until they leave on their own. Lately, I've noticed a drop in the more colorful characters. I'll have to start doing TV show reviews pretty soon if my non-fiction participants stop dropping by. :)