An overweight woman wearing a very generic looking fuchsia tank top and fake Tom’s shoes is standing in the corner of the tire shop. Although her clothes are modest and forgetful, the huge sparkling diamond wedding ring on her left hand clearly screams, ”I used to be a sexy curvy young thaang and my man PUT A RING ON THAAAT!” Also, she is there to get new tires on her Lexus SUV. Anyone who can afford a Lexus is well-off. Anyone who can afford a Lexus SUV is extremely well-off. I’m guessing that not many peoples’ first Lexus is the SUV so I’m sure she has many other luxury vehicles tucked away at home in a four or five car garage.
She is accompanied by two young sons. One is about 11 and the other about 7. The 11 year old has spiky hair and a logo t shirt that looks like something you’d buy at a Pantera concert, but it says something like “Bad To The Bone” on it with lightning bolts and school #2 pencils on it. He is clearly an ADD child and is somewhat calmed by playing his gunmetal grey Nintendo Game Boy. The younger, whose name is Luca is the embodiment of what I hope my future child never is.
Luca sits slumped in one of the plump tomato-colored chairs of the waiting room. He sits cross-legged but never allows his legs to sit dormant. Instead, he shakes them over and over till there are tiny little black skid marks left from his Velcro shoes on the cheap vinyl seat.
Luca wears a pair of basketball shorts which proudly displays his cuts and bruises and a little Superman logo Band-Aid on his left knee. I’ve been sitting in the waiting room for about an hour now and Luca has “gone to the bathroom” five times. Surely, he is unravelling toilet paper and shoving powdered soap in his orifices.
Luca loves the spinning the 1950’s diner-like bar stools that match the tomato ketchup chairs. Not because they are comfortable, but because they spin with a loud friction-induced drone that is somehow both high and low pitched at the same time. The tops of the bar stools are not threaded. They spin indefinitely without stopping. This makes me want to die.
The mother, however, is the worst part of this family: all talk and no walk. She gives in to the boys’ whining and let’s them play on her iPhone. She intends to use the phone as a distraction so she can push the kids out of her line of attention, but she keeps one eye on the phone to see if she gets a text from one of her friends Miranda or Linda or Tanya.
She nonchalantly tells Luca to put the powdered Coffee-Mate vanilla creamer jar down. I almost turned to her and said, “Go ahead. Let him at it. He’ll soon learn the error of his curiosity. In fact, make him drink the entire plastic container. It’ll be worse than the saltine cracker challenge we all did in college.”
But I just sit here and stare in bewilderment at this unruly, rich family and remember how, if I acted this way as a kid my father would probably smack me upside the head. But kids these days don’t get hit anymore. They threaten to sue or go to the neighbors’ house or even divorce their parents (yeah I’m talking to you Macaulay Culkin). But seriously, maybe that kid needs to be smacked across the head.
Jason the tire guy, however, is a kind, simple man. He says everything with a genuine smile and I really do believe him when he tells me he feels bad that I need three new tires. He is the only person working in the front of the shop and is running around like a madman taking phone calls, going outside to assess tire damage, and taking payments. His superior, a good 10 or 12 years his younger, saunters in and orders him to fill up the mini fridge with complimentary bottled water. He races into the back, grabs a small pallet sized pack of bottled water and hurries back just in time to pick up the screaming phone. Jason’s face is bright red when he reaches the phone, he takes a second to gain his breath back, wipes his brow, and then gleefully answer the phone with the mandated script that America’s Tire probably has laminated on the break room wall.
“Thank you for calling America’s Tire in San Ramon. This is Jason, how may I assist you?”
The young-faced supervisor comes back in just to scold Jason for not offering people the bottled water. Jason apologizes and then makes the rounds in the waiting room like a street performer asking for spare change after a crude theatre performance.
I noticed that Jason is not wearing a wedding band. I can’t believe that horrible disaster of a woman with the two disposable children has a wedding ring and Jason doesn’t. Jason works hard and doesn’t complain. He is not particularly good-looking but I wouldn’t consider him ugly.
One of my favorite things to think about is what people’s apartments look like. I imagine Jason’s apartment to be a small one bedroom in one of those prefabricated apartment complexes that has equally spaced palm trees lining the driveway to welcome you to the leasing office. His living room has one couch and one recliner chair that do not match. Both have stains and tears on it. The recliner was a side of the road find that he meticulously investigated before deciding, “Yeah it’s not that bad. Only a couple tears in the fabric. Nothing I can’t sew closed.” His days get too busy to actually take the time to mend the rips so they continuously flap in the breeze of his oscillating standing fan propped in the corner of the room.
His bedroom has just the basics: a bed with a forest green comforter that he neatly takes the time to make each morning before his daily beating at the tire shop; a small desk that would collapse under more than 50 pounds of pressure; a small nightstand with a goose-neck lamp sits next to his bed. His mirrored sliding door closet holds a few outfits that seem like the same outfit just in slightly different colors.
The kitchen, however, has quality cookware and is filled with an impressive array of spices. Jason enjoys trying out different exotic recipes on the weekends. Vietnamese spicy crab soup, arroz con pollo and vegetable panang curry are his latest favorites. He brings his ethnic leftovers to the tire shop and zaps them in the microwave for lunch only to be greeted with rude comments from his co workers like, “What the fuck Jason?! Your lunch smells like SHIT get the fuck out of here!”. Instead of rocking the boat and snapping back, Jason decides that it’s just easier to walk across the street and sit under the big oak tree that awkwardly lines San Ramon Valley Boulevard. He may even be so used to this treatment that he now keeps a small blanket in his car so he has something soft to sit on.
When Jason looks at the woman and her two boys, he probably gets pissed off at the world and turns to the heavens and asks why she got the Lexus SUV and why he got the 2001 Honda Civic. He probably wonders what she did in her current or past life that society decided to place her in a higher caste. But he’ll internalize his emotions and put on an amazingly convincing smile on his face and ask Fuchsia Lady if he can get her kids anything.
Maybe it was my duty to be the voice of reason in the room. Obviously Jason would lose his job if he called Luca and his brother a bunch of “Fucking nightmares” and told them to “Keep the hell out of the bathroom”. Maybe it was my duty to GO OFF on those little shits, but I sit there on my tomato chair and just let it happen. I just plain don’t have the balls or energy to start a scene.
If you are Fuchsia Lady and are reading this, please try and pay more attention to your kids. They are not bad kids, they are just hyper little boys who need a little more structure, discipline and attention than the average kid.
If you are America’s Tire Jason and are reading this, you are a great employee and you probably don’t get the recognition you deserve and I wish you only the best in life.
If you are the young manager dude at America’s Tire and are reading this, please either get some new bar stools or some WD-40 because those things are way too loud and annoying to your customers sitting in the waiting room and if you don’t do something about it, one of your customers is bound to write mean things about you in his or her blog.