Is There A Problem, Sir?
Gary was not a happy camper. He worked at a service station on the edge of the Mojave desert, a blistering excuse for California real estate. He pretty much detested every phase of his existence. He lived in a dive, it was hotter than hell, and the women in this town were a bunch of stuck-up witches. Worst of all was the incessant flow of jerks though his workspace, with whom he had to deal, every day of his work life.
He hated those pricks with all of his mind. They drove their air-conditioned, luxury cars, and he had to wait on them, hand and foot. He had to gas them up, check the oil, adjust the air in the tires, and clean windshields. And he did it all for minimum wage. Crap, this was a weak-sauce existence.
Gary had a peculiar side to him, one that most people would not have suspected from his unpolished exterior. Gary like precision, and he like tools that produced this result. He had a jeweler’s drill, one that allowed him to create a hole, a sixty-fourth of an inch thick, if he could refrain from exerting too much pressure on the device, so that he did not end up snapping the bit. It does not take much force to snap a piece of steel that is a sixty-fourth of an inch in diameter. Gary was capable of keeping his range of emotions rigidly under control, effecting the mannerisms of a very meek, mild-mannered fellow.
What did he do with his tools? Not much, except know that they were available. He could think of many uses for his sophisticated drill, but just not the ones that came up in the every day context of his world. Only sometimes. But he kept his tools in mind, and he kept them on hand, just in case, in the tool box that was bolted into the bed of his ’64 Chevy, half-ton pick-up. None of those rice-burning jobs for him-it was American-made all the way.
That didn’t mean he could not appreciate the Germans, with their silky smooth engines. He wouldn’t own one, but that was more because he couldn’t own one, not working at a minimum wage job. Speaking of the Mercedes class, one lurched into the station one day, none of that silkiness readily apparent, in the way the sleek, sporty number chugged to a stop. It was just after nine in the morning, and already 92 degrees cool.
Out bounced a rubber ball of a man, an impatient, obnoxious, heavyset man, teeth clamped down on a vile-smelling cigar, Hawaiian shirt bulging at his midsection. His Bermuda shorts made him look like an escapee from Chevy Chase’s National Lampoon Vacation Series. His pink skin was not going to remain exposed to the scorching sun very long, before it would begin to turn cherry red. Gary found it interesting how fair-complected people, always seemed to turn into lobsters in the heat.
He sauntered out to begin the negotiations. “Is there a problem, Sir?” He always began his encounters in the same manner, especially the deferential “Sir.” From the way the car had been staggering, he felt certain that it was a vacuum problem, and that it would take him all of sixty seconds to locate the leak, and another sixty seconds to cut a length of hose and put it in place. However, he was not about to let the driver of the car in on this piece of information.
“Did you see the way I limped in here? I’m surprised I even made it. How long will it be before you can take a look at it?” Rodney Glick was an extremely driven man, with an agenda that dominated his every action.
“Well, it’s up to the boss, of course, but all’s I’m doing right now, is jerking around with a chrome-plated, metallic green GTO. When did the problem develop?”
“Just as I came down the freeway off-ramp. Seemed as though she got kicked in the gizzard. I’m in a hell a hurry; any way you could jump right on it?”
They were always in a hurry, thought Gary, although that worked out fine with him to see them go right on through. He, on the other hand, had plenty of time. Having sent the fat man on to the neighboring water hole, telling him to come back at noon, Gary brought the Mercedes around to the back bay, where he had the place to himself. The boss recognized that Gary had skills, but also knew that Gary’s past was checkered enough that Gary could not pursue the usual channels, of being plugged into the system, so that he could get paid accordingly.
Gary was a gem, as far as the owner of the station was concerned, doing the work of a highly skilled automotive technician, for which top dollar could be charged, without costing the owner jack. As he suspected, Gary found the little flexible rubber tubing, that had broken free of its moorings, to come into contact with the white-hot exhaust manifold, quickly melting it, creating the grief that Rodney had experienced. He replaced the rubber tubing, for a total of seven minutes “service.”
Then he went to work, lying on his back and using that drill, to create a well-placed hole so tiny, it would be difficult to even spot it, except for the fact, that the radiator fluid would be slowly draining. When the hole was completed, Gary took a piece of his chewing gum, and placed it securely over the pinprick hole, knowing that when the radiator heated up, the gum would fall off, and the leakage would commence. It would take a fair amount of time to drain enough of the precious liquid from the radiator to cause problems. By that time the man would be more than halfway across the desert, and therefore compelled to move on to the far side. Gary would never see nor have to think about Rodney again. Or so he thought.
What Gary did not know about Rodney, was that in addition to being filthy rich, fat and obnoxious, he was also highly intelligent, and that he he had made his way up through the ranks as an automotive repair specialist. When his car had been towed to the other side of the desert, with an inexplicably leaking radiator, he had been suspicious. Radiators leak for one of three reasons: factory defect (with the Krauts, thought Gary, no way); rust (too new); or sabotage.
The specialist that Rodney hired, was not only able to determine the exact cause of the hole, he was able to extract Gary’s DNA from the residual traces of saliva, from the chewing gum, and obtain a search warrant for the drill and bit, which created the hole in the radiator.
Gary put his tools into storage, when he went off to the big house, to serve his latest stint, where he worked in the prison automotive repair shop.