Monday, November 19, 2012

Thirteen Degrees

It is thirteen degrees and I am freezing my ass off.
The heater in my truck sucks.  I have one of those portable heated seats, the kind you plug into the cigarette lighter and it works pretty well. The irony is that when it is this cold, my ass and back are toasty, my face and hands and legs are frosted. I always forget to bring gloves with me, so I alternate sticking my hands in the pockets of my jacket while driving one handed, or one fingered depending on what else I have to maneuver.

Like a cup of coffee or a donut or a nip.
Luxury cars pass me on the road and I am tempted to swerve into them. I hate them for their money and their warmth, the ease with which they negotiate the commute. Yakking on their goddamn cell phones like the world could not function without them. I imagine inventing a device, like a remote control, that would hone in on their precious smart phone and explode it in their ear when I press a button.

This makes me smile. But it doesn’t make me any warmer.
My wife says I have an attitude. I don’t think I have an attitude, just a finely tuned sense of justice. It’s not about jealousy or envy; it’s about restoring a balance to life. I work hard and expect to be rewarded.

I drove a compact car before this and loved it. It wasn’t anything fancy but I liked the looks of it and it was damn reliable. I was comfortable in it; it welcomed my body so that I only had to be half awake to drive it. I trusted it.
I bought it used from the greatest car salesman ever. He was a sporadically employed opera singer moonlighting disdainfully in sales. As we approached the car I said “I like the looks of that, it’s got a little style.” He said: “That depends on your definition of style.” I loved that he didn’t try to bullshit me. He was not impressed with the car or the job and he didn’t hide it.

Hopefully he is performing in Vienna as we speak.
I totaled the car one icy morn around two thirty a.m. coming home from a bartending shift.  Everyone should experience this once in their life. The car began fishtailing as I went down a hill five minutes from my house. I thought I saved it but eventually it went off the road, flipped and landed on the driver’s side door. I had to climb up and out of the passenger side window and walk home in the snow and ice.

Anyway that’s how I ended up with this fifteen year old truck which was the only vehicle I could afford with the insurance proceeds. I do love the truck. It makes me anonymous at the dump. I only hate it in the cold New England winter.

When I get to work there is a bold and beautiful Mercedes SL 550 Roadster sitting regally in the same spot every day. This is a $105,500 car.
I want to smash the windows with my frozen fingers. Dent the fenders with the heavy boots I wear to avoid frostbite in the truck. I want to leave a note under a windshield wiper saying “Give me money.”

My wife says I am wrong to hate this guy. She tells me he has earned his money and I should do the same.
I don’t see it that way. I think all that excess money he makes takes away from the money I should be getting. I work as hard as him. Probably harder. With a couple of breaks I could have been him but things didn’t go my way.

Not my fault.
I know who he is. I see him come and go. He doesn’t look so tough to me. In fact he looks kind of smug.

Sometimes I press my nose up against the window, carefully so as to not set off the alarm. I have a big nose. I imagine my ass on that buttery leather heated seat, my hands on the wheel as I confidently issue commands to raise the temperature to seventy two degrees, change the radio station and dial the phone so I can tell my wife I’m stopping for a couple of civilized whiskeys on the way home.
I really hate this guy.

I decided to confront him. Actually it was more of a reaction than a decision. It had been a crappy day, I was tired, and dreading the cold ride home. I limped across the parking lot and climbed into the truck at the same time that he climbed into his luxury. As my hand touched the frozen steering wheel he pulled out ahead of me and I tried to run up on him and drive him into a light post. Unfortunately I hit a patch of ice and swerved into one of those carriage carousels, you know where responsible people return their shopping carts after unloading them.
I smashed a head light and blew a tire. I was surprised to see him pull over and walk around to make sure I was all right. He said I could use his cell phone if I didn’t have one (apparently I have that look about me) and offered to let me sit in his warm car until the tow truck showed up.

I thanked him and declined.
I got home two and a half hours later and told my wife the story. After she calmed down she asked me what the guy was like.

I told her he was an asshole.

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