Three years I’ve been coming to this place, and still the guy at the help desk has no idea who I am.

“Have you been with us before?” he always asks.

 “Yep, many times,” I always say.

Maybe it’s a game he plays to keep his own sanity. Sitting behind a desk, typing entries into a computer all day. Never really doing anything else. I can sympathize with that. I do the same thing. And I know how soul-crushing it can be. Especially if you’ve seen something else.

I sit down in the lobby to wait for the hour or so for my car to have it lubed up and inspected. I’m sure they will tell me I need other service. It’s the price you pay for taking the car to a mechanic at a dealership. But, they haven’t steered me wrong yet. Except for the time they replaced my windshield wipers for $30. But, that was my fault for saying “Yes.”

A lady is sitting here with me in the waiting room. She seems the impatient type. She was standing outside when I got here, then came back in. She’s got some kind of kiddie design on her shirt. It’s purple and ugly. I think she used to be an attractive person, but has been throttled down by life, marriage, kids and responsibility. It happens to most. I’m hoping it hasn’t happened to me, but I have my doubts.

Her feet have painted toenails. Bright orange or maybe some kind of pinkish-orange. They look like the toes of a 17-year-old who is getting ready to go to the local swimming pool. I can’t stop looking at them. It’s even harder because she keeps moving her right foot. Up and down. Up and down. Luckily, her legs are nothing to stare at.

I wonder what she’s thinking. Is it about me? I guess my narcissism makes we think that way. When I was a kid, I always thought people were talking about me or looking at me strangely. It made me have problems breathing. It would most likely be diagnosed as mental illness today. They’d give me a pill and I’d be more sedate.

A second woman walks into the shop. She’s wearing a pink T-shirt and sports a bad perm. I wonder all the time why people get perms. They never look good. Ever. Just look at 1980s prom pictures on the internet. See?

She walks away before I have a chance to see what else she was about.

Some dude keeps peering into the room. He’s obviously a salesman. Just by the way he looks. Ugly polo shirt and grey Dockers pants. He has tanned arms and a tanned face. I’m willing to bet the rest of him isn’t quite as colorful. A tan earned on the golf courses of the area, of which there are plenty.

Sometimes I miss living in this town. It’s a retirement “destination”, which is not a selling point for someone my age, even as I approach the time when I’ll be in their target demographic for fliers and such in my mailbox. It is a peaceful place. And I was pretty well-respected in some circles. In others, I’m sure I wasn’t, but I never ran in those circles so it was never, and will never be an issue.

The digital television signal for the local station keeps wigging out. The stutter-stop talking is distracting. Not that the morning talk show banter is anything that needs to be heard. I miss rabbit ears on televisions. The airwaves are supposedly for the public’s use. Although it never really was that way. Now, you have to have a digital TV. I think it was just a way to sell televisions right before the big collapse. A last-ditch way to bleed a little bit more profit out of companies before failure. Circuit City probably sold quite a few televisions in the last years of its existence. Then it died.

I don’t miss Circuit City.

Did you know Cindy Crawford has defied the aging process? I guess her secret is French in origin. Something I’ll never know about. Melon extracts and all. I’m sure it has nothing to do with good genetics and working out all the time. Nah.

The lady gets up again. She needs to pee now I guess as she heads to the bathroom. She had ugly elbows. I worry I’m going to marry a woman with ugly elbows. It’s a peculiar thing to be afraid of, I’d admit, but it is a real concern. I’ve seen ugly elbows, and they are scary things.

I’m alone now in the waiting room. An older gentleman is standing just outside of it, holding a dealer plate. Is he a salesman? He’s kind of old for one. Maybe he owns the place? He seems nervous. Maybe impatient. Pacing back and forth. Tapping the license plate against his right leg. He swallows and walks away. I am utterly alone again.

Mr. Polo shirt just came out of the bathroom. He took a shit. You could tell. His face was red from probably pushing too hard. He’ll have hemorrhoids one day. He was scratching his knee and walking at the same time. Then he looked at me. And sped up.

I don’t miss that guy.

Now the toes lady is back from her bathroom visit.

She sighs loudly before sitting down. She then sniffles and wipes her face with her hands. I wonder if she washed them after using the public loo? Her glasses have been removed. She looks older. Her hair is highlighted with streaks of blonde to cover up the aging process. She remembers her glasses, which were tucked into her shirt collar. She begins to wipe them clean with her ugly purple creature T-shirt.

Over and over she wipes. Then looks through the lenses. Never quite clean enough glasses are when you clean them that way.

The other lady, the one with the bad perm, scuttles through the waiting area twice. She’s got purpose behind her steps. She also has a giant smile on her face.

The waiting room guy comes and gives the toe lady her keys to her car. He seems overly polite and weird.

A second waiting room guy comes in and says “Hey” to me. I say “Hello” back.

That will be the extent of our conversation.

Another salesman goes to the bathroom. This one is bald, shaved bald, with yet another bad golf-course tan. He’s also wearing a polo shirt – striped – and khaki pants.

I start to wonder if he’s peeing or pooping. These are the thoughts that go through my head.

Another customer comes in. He looks annoyed. I’d be annoyed too if I was a East Carolina Pirates fan. He twirls his feet as he sits. Switching back and forth which leg he crosses. Bad circulation, maybe?

He holds a Bojangles cup by his side. No lid. No straw. He’s too much of a man for such things, I’d guess. Even with the perfectly groomed mustache.

His head pivots constantly as well. The television’s stuttering voice appears to be an annoyance to him. I wonder why no one will grab the remote and try to fix it? I enjoy these moments of angst. It’s a sign of inner turmoil, I’m sure. I start to think about my therapist. She was a nice enough lady, but not very good at her job. We talked for seven sessions about one ex-girlfriend. Then in my last session – it was all I had on my Employee Assistance Program – we talked about “the” ex. The last words my therapist said to me were “I wished we’d talked about her sooner. I think this would have been more successful for you.”

Well, thanks.

Guy in the ECU shirt gets up. He throws away his Bojangles cup and tries to use the loo. Striped polo salesman is still in there. It was obviously a No. 2, not a No. 1.

I smile at the thought of one mystery solved. I wonder where Scooby Doo is.

Doo, ha.

I look at the ECU shirt guy. His sunglasses are tucked into his shirt’s neck as well. I’ve never done that. I can’t remember ever doing it. Probably why I have sat on or stepped on my glasses so many times in my life.

 I think about getting on the free internet here. I don’t do it.

 The stuttering television keeps stuttering.

 I guess if it was working, I could learn about anti-aging secrets.

 ECU guy gets up again. His shoes make plenty of squeaking noises as he walks away. I’m alone again.

 A mechanic comes in. Nods and leaves.

 My car appears to be ready.


That was the quickest so far.