For the last year finding new and unusual places to write has been a lot of fun for me. My purpose has been to build self-discipline, expand my own creative horizons and hopefully encourage other people in the process. This week I ended up writing at a place that showcases the latest technology, but the experience awakened an old memory.
Write Anywhere #50: Car Dealership
Remember when getting your car fixed meant sitting on a sticky plastic chair in a gas station watching the mechanics dive under cars? Now its a destination. I found out first-hand when I had to take the Write Anywhere-mobile in for some maintenance. An in-house coffee house furnished with big overstuffed leather chairs, John Mayer over the speaker system, cars spotlighted like art works, and several high-definition televisions throughout the building made it feel like a big living room.
While waiting for my car to be looked at I sat in very cold air conditioning on a very hot day with the sound of a beautiful landscaped rock waterfall in the background. The experience was a bit surreal. Not a hint of oil or engines or exhaust; just the sweet smell of muffins and coffee.
The work is done in a glassed-in area to keep dirt, the smell of oil and noise away from the sensitivities of the customer. I watched the mechanics and cars through the window, and one young man working on an engine brought back a quarter century memory…
Bobby’s gas station was closest to my little shotgun apartment. It was still the days of full service pumps at gas stations. I had a long commute to work so I stopped at the gas station on a semi-regular basis. I saw Bobby about twice a week on my way home from work for about two months. We didn’t talk much, but we were both young and there was a bit of a spark between us. We were awkward and mostly communicated by smiling goofy smiles at each other.
One day my brakes started crying in the squeakiest way. I went to Bobby’s station for help, and between car diagnoses with his boss Norman, Bobby would come to the front where I sat waiting. He’d make small talk, puff on a cigarette, and shuffle back out. About an hour in, he bought me a Coke from the machine in front of the station. Old Norman kept giving me dirty looks and hollering for Bobby. Bobby talked about his job and I talked about mine and we agreed both our bosses sucked.
Bobby had Bo Duke hair, but more tousled and carefree. He looked like he should have been on a surfboard instead of a mechanic’s creeper.
“We should go get a beer sometime,” he finally blurted out.
“We should,” I agreed.
“We’ll figure it out when you know your work schedule next week and I know mine. Tell me next week when you stop by.”
“Sure,” I said casually, but beamed inside.
I couldn’t wait to run out of gas and fairly sped my clunker to the gas station the next Thursday on my way to work. His smile dazzled, despite the smudges of grease across his dimpled face. He leaned into my window. The smile faded and his forehead wore the question mark in his mind.
“I’m on my way to the sitter before work. Have to work a 12 hour stretch. Why do so many people buy new shoes for Easter? This is my daughter. She’s almost a year old,” I spit out and laughed nervously in answer to the question on his face.
He forced a smile and waved a half-hearted finger in her direction. She giggled a reply.
“So, uh, brakes okay?”
“Need a fill-up?”
He went to work, filled the tank and stayed by the pump. I waited for him to ask me about our tentative beer date.
“Okay, then, take it easy,” he said after taking my money. He looked down at his feet, sighed, then shuffled away, hands shoved in his back coverall pockets.
We never got that beer. I got my gas somewhere else. I understood. Children were not a small consequence. We were a package deal, my daughter and I. I might be lonely as a single parent but my child was worth waiting for someone who wanted to get to know both of us. It would be worth the wait I told myself. And it was. For all three of us.
Where did you write this week?