Monday, February 21, 2005

The age of invisibility

This has been the weekend of weirdness, so I'll start with the mystery bill...

My car started smelling like it had been doused with gasoline and that was worrisome; I don't really understand how or why cars work. I can manage to use basic power tools, but that's about the extent of my mechanical ability. Turns out I needed new fuel injectors. Could have been worse.

Russ, the mechanic I go to makes most of his money by working on big rigs. But he also has a soft spot for ladies in difficult circumstances (fragile old ladies, ladies undergoing chemo, struggling single moms) it doesn't matter when I take my car in; he will make sure I get it back the same day as long as he can get the parts...and he'll charge me cost for the parts and discount the labor.

The shop is in the warehouse district, and probably has not been cleaned since it opened years ago. A thick coat of dust covers everything, and since Russ takes trades on work, there are stacks of TVs, a few freezers, lots of model cars and planes and even the contents of a storage unit in one corner. The walls are yellowed from cigarette smoke.

Russ doesn't actually do any of the work any more, his 20 year old son does it all, while Russ chainsmokes, orders parts, and shoots the breeze with whoever walks through the door. And he really, really likes it if his clients sit and talk while the car's being worked on. And since he takes good care of me...well...I sit and talk and try very, very hard not to breathe much. This time, for 5 hours.

I think my invisibility began about the time I hit 40 (and about the time the below picture was taken, so you can see it has little to do with looks or body shape). For some men, I simply began to not exist in any noticeable way. Earlier in my life, there would have been some striving for my attention, or an insistence that I listen to them, or even just those looks that guys give you when you think they're not looking. Now that I'm invisible, that rarely happens. Do I miss it? I'm not sure. I know I was glad to be invisible on Saturday.

Russ already had someone in his office; Guy #1, late 40s, skinny, smoking, black front teeth, grimy (not grimy like a mechanic, but grimy as in probably hadn't bathed for a week), hyperactive. All this guy could talk about was his lazy kid and ugly wife, and how he never got any sex. What I couldn't figure out was why he was surprised that he never got any.

We were joined after about an hour by Guy #2, also late 40s, NO front teeth, smoking, grimy, with this huge gut and a too-short T-shirt. He was accompanied by his two grandkids (apparently the kid's mom and grandma are both in jail for meth so he's got custody), one with a mouth full of crowns (not fillings -- crowns) and the other so severely crosseyed that I really wanted to ask if he were seeing a doctor for it. Guy #2 was fixated on Brittney Spears, and "how fat she's getting".

Then comes Guy #3. He's probably in his 30s, skinny, again no front teeth, smoking, dirtier than the previous two. This guy's on marriage #3, has 5 bio kids, works for cash so he doesn't have to pay child support, and is trying to figure out a way to put his soon-to-be-ex-wife's car title in his name. After a while, all three losers are discussing Brittney Spears' body and telling ugly racial "jokes".

Russ talks to me off and on, pretty much ignoring the visitors until the kids start running wild, and then he makes them all leave. I am not sure that any of them ever even noticed I was there.

It's a little scary to know that people like that exist. Even scarier to know that there are women who would marry them and have children with them.

Later that night, I worked psych. For the first time, I actually felt that maybe the kids on the unit might be the lucky ones.


Gone Away said...

Hi Jodie. Great article, well written (as usual) and very entertaining. All I can say is that we're not all like guys 1, 2 and 3, honest.

But you have a gem in that mechanic. Hang on to him whatever happens - mechanics like him are as rare as hen's teeth. If you want a good laugh on the subject of mechanic's, here's Harry's take on them.

Jodie said...

Gone, I wouldn't have believed there were 3 guys in the world like that, much less all of you. :D

Harry said...

Gone is such a gent...thanks for the plug, bud.

What's weird in your well-told story, Jodie, is how much your three men resemble some of the neighbors where I grew up in southern Georgia, although the mouth filled with gold would have been excessive, in those parts. Was one named Coon Sapp, by any chance? Or Larry?

Jodie said...

How did you know Guy #2 was named Larry? Spooky. :D I loved your tale of mechanics, Harry...did you ever get your tag renewed?

Gone Away said...

Shhhh, Jodie, you'll be getting da law on him... ;)

Third Degree Nurse said...

Lord help us all.

Your mechanic sounds like a nice guy. I took good care of my mechanic all those years in TX; he got homemade apple pies and pecan pies on a routine basis because he kept me off the side of the road.

And I don't know about that invisible thing...even their own noses aren't in focus for those guys. And, yes, it's pretty scary that our sisters are out there breeding more of them.

Harry said...

Oh, the tag was a breeze, and then the starter died, so Rustbucket sits in the drive, waiting till spring, and hopefully, another dance or two with Clem and the boys which will be fodder for more nonsensical writings. Ain't it great, having troubles?