15 July 2005


As many of my readers here and at Alternate Brain know, I work in a small shop on the north shore of Long Island. There are 4 of us working (see the lineup in the sidebar) but we also have a regular cast of characters who show up on a regular basis. They come, hang out, get coffee, bullshit, and then leave. At any time of day at least one of 'em is around.

Joe and Ma: Joe owns a tree service . . . well, Joe is the tree service. When he needs help, he heads into Glen Cove and picks up a couple illegals for the day. Ma is Joe's dog (a 13 year old Pit Bull with eyes that look like Marty Feldman's) and adult supervision. Joe has about 10 pieces of equipment (bucket truck, dump truck, etc) but no place to park them so he leaves them in parking lots around town overnight. Inevitably, one of us is giving Joe and Ma a ride somewhere in the morning to get one of his trucks. I dropped them off at Burger King one morning where Joe left the bucket truck the night before. Ma was in heaven.

Franz the Kraut: A pain in the ass old German who has too much free time and knows everything. Reminds me too much of my old uncles, but I do keep my German fluent by practicing with him. At least once a week I'm telling him to 'shut the fuck up before I slap the old right outta ya'.

Bob the Admiral: The dried up old squid who lives across the street from the shop. He was blown off a destroyer during WW2 by a Kamikaze and spent like 4 days in the water before they found him. He sits on his front porch and watches all the women go into the Post Office (next door to the shop). The crusty old geezer yells at us across the street and gives us the finger. We yell back for him to get off the porch, he's scaring the children.

Grumman Dave: Former still photographer for Grumman Aerospace until he retired a couple years back and now has too much free time. His wife sends him up to us when she's had enough of him. Unlike the three above, he actually is a customer and has been for 30 years. That's why we don't tell him to get out as quickly as we do the others.

Clyde: Retired Nassau County cop. Works part time playing carpenter. He stops by in the evenings so he can drink beer before going home to his wife.

Jeff the Pimp: A brother who went to school with PDB. He thinks he's a big pimpin' playa but he ain't got two nickels to rub together. It's fun to watch the looks women give him when he lays his line on them. One of his favorites: 'Wasup, breakfast?'.

Shanghai Johnny: Chinese immigrant mailman who is fascinated by cars. I'm the only one who can understand him.

Kommissar John: The New York State legislator for our district. Republican, spitting image of former Connecticut governor (now convict) John Rowland. An asshole extraordinaire and I tell him every chance I get. He usually checks to see if my car is in the lot before he shows up. Tries to avoid me like the plague but his local office is line-of-sight from our door. Try to guess how many times I've mooned him. Yes, the locals are used to driving by the shop and seeing me in the lot, mooning somebody up the block.

So, aside from all the crazy shit being an in-demand mechanic entails (we're always busy, no comebacks) we have these clowns to put up with. But that's what makes us unique. It's a garage plucked off of Route 66 fifty years ago and dropped on Long Island. I wouldn't work anywhere else.

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