Usually, when you're sitting in a Sears Automotive waiting room you know what to expect in terms of fellow customer chit-chat. The murmurs sound like conversation you'd overhear in jail:
"So, what are you in for?"
"How long have you been here?"
"Dear god, I just hope to see my wife and kids again some day."
I know this because over two months, I had things go wrong with my tires so often that the Sears guys started to know me. First they started calling me by my name ("Hi, Sparkle!) and then they started calling me forms of my name that only a handful of people get to call me ("Sparkly!").* Eventually, they started to know my voice when I called.
One lazy Sunday afternoon, I slouched along into the Sears Automotive Waiting Room--armed with my bag full of water, books, crossword puzzle book, pens, a banana for energy, chewing gum, work to do, and cigarettes for the prison trustys--and I expected to slide right into my favorite plastic chair (the one without the sketchy stain) and wait for a few hours. Instead, as I walked through the waiting room, a man called out, "Hey! You have a great day! God Bless. I hope you have a great year--yeah, Happy New Year!"
By george, he thought I was leaving--rather than settling in to serve out my sentence--and rushed ahead to the complimentary close. Naw. I smiled and thanked him, sat down, and he continued to bless me. It's not unpleasant to be blessed, but after smiling and nodding for awhile, I kind of escaped into my book (a book can serve as a kind of a fence). He sat with two elderly women. One of them kept handing him her cell phone and telling him to call her relatives. He'd get them on the phone and then he'd hand it to her. I couldn't figure out whether her relatives would not answer the phone if they knew she was calling or if she could not work her phone. The other woman sat gripping her walker and glaring at the television in a mildly accusatory fashion.
The Sears tech came scooting out finally, and all three got up to leave. I looked up, ready to say my goodbyes.
Man (looking at me with big smile): "GOD BLESS!"
Elderly Woman with Walker: "First I broke my hip, then the poodle died, now THIS. This better be ALL."
Elderly Woman Who Does Not Dial Own Phone: "I smelled something funny! It was what was left of the tire."
Did I warn you that this post has no particular point? Oops. No: It is simply a tiny, odd moment while waiting. Although there is a larger lesson here: When you smell something funny, it is OFTEN what is left of the tire.
Hey! You have a great day!
*The handful includes Sears guys--they can call me anything they like as long as they fix my car and I don't have to go back every weekend.