Hey! It’s Keith from Mind of the Modern Man – the website and podcast about a guy
in his 40s, living life and telling stories.
A while ago, I shared the story while I was observing a little slice of life, stuck in the waiting
vestibule of the local Pep Boys.
As I sat there, I took to my laptop and typed down what was happening all around me.
Today I share the podcast of this story – I call it – My Time With The Admiral.
Listen Here (or go find Mind of Modern Man on iTunes, Spotify, TuneIn, Google Music, Stitcher and more)
Read the Transcript Here:
I’m sitting here in the ‘waiting room’ of the local Pep Boys – it’s time for the family SUV to go through an oil change. As I sit here, I’m really enjoying the life buzzing all around me.
Ever do that – just sit there and look around you and try to figure out the stories behind what you’re a first person witness of? For this next hour or so, we are all sharing this small sliver of our life. Strangers pulled together with a common need – a professional to do to our vehicle what we can’t.
The first thing that struck me – I’m at the local mechanic (he sold to Pep Boys a year ago, but he’s still here…) and I’m sitting at a modern looking desk with 4 stations of power and USB charging stations. How modern is that? I’m connected to the free WiFi and working from my PepBoys office.
Hanging on the far wall is a pretty large flatscreen TV. The others sharing this room with me are fixed on it. The show must be RIVITING! Nope. You know what it is? It’s a U-Haul Infomercial about their U-Box Moving and Storage System.
The room is LOCKED-IN watching this. I can’t see the TV from the desk area (nice touch) but I can hear it. There’s everything you’d want in a cheesy infomercial – the bad radio DJ sounding announcer, the “real customers” who definitely just graduated from the local community center acting class, and all the literal BELLS and WHISTLES sound effects getting your attention every 45 seconds. The personal stories I’m listening to, of the UHaul Box customers, are really tear-jerkers. “My husband’s job is moving us ALLLL the way across the country to BOSTON! Normally we’d rent the UHaul Truck and drive it comfortably across the country (nice plug for their trucks), but this time, with my husband already in Boston, that’s just not an option. Thank goodness for U-Box!” Hey U-Haul – women can drive trucks too. Sheesh.
Want to know a sad part of these people staring at this “program”? There is an entire library full of magazines and newspapers all over the place. They could be reading anything from Car and Driver to Sports Illustrated to People to AARP Magazine to the local news… but instead; we’re watching the UBox Infomercial.
Good news – they just unpacked a full U-Box and from what I’m hearing, it’s nothing short of Mary Poppins’ magic carpet bag.
AND if you order it now – they’ll send you COUPONS!
As I look up at the walls, they are nicely decorated with vintage looking car-focused photos and maps.
It’s a Chili’s Restaurant meets Target Home Décor look.`
The wall above me has a selection of prints of the Pep Boys logo guys (Manny, Moe and Jack).
Know what I’m realizing – the one dude isn’t shown without a cigar sticking out of this mouth in any picture. That’s his thing. Forget that he has a small little Charlie Chaplin mustache and big thick round glasses – they needed ANOTHER “thing” for him – the cigar.
You’d think, in 2019, that maybe we’d rethink the need for the smoking cigar in a logo. I think the world has moved on from smoking as being “cool” – hasn’t it? Maybe Pep Boys should do that same.
However, as I look around this room, I see a lot of box sized lumps in the shirt pockets of the denim jacket wearing customers here – cigarettes all around. Maybe I’m wrong about the smoking thing – I just wish I wasn’t. I’d like to take all the cigarettes in the world, put them in a UHaul Box and ship them to the middle of the ocean…
The fine people at PepBoys have set up a nice coffee station. A Keurig machine is here with an entire assortment of coffees. Sweet N Low, Sugar Packs, Styrofoam cups, the whole package.
I watch the rest of my tribe here going up for their coffee. They all keep opening the cabinets under the coffee station, picking up something and then groaning while walking away.
It took me a little bit to figure out what was going on. (I don’t drink coffee so I was confused). They were looking for milk and cream!
They were thinking the cabinets underneath might have been a fridge. Nope, sitting there on the counter is a canister of powdered creamer. I cannot even imagine what that tastes like. Apparently, the others in here didn’t want to figure that out either. They’re bravely drinking their Alpine Mocha flavored K-Cup “black”.
As I’m sitting here, and typing away with reckless abandon, our group numbers have dwindled down. It’s me and one older gentleman behind me. He’s wearing a USS Eisenhower cap – I’m guessing he’s a Navy Man or related to one. This guy has been talking to everyone who came in and with everyone else gone, it’s now my turn.
Forget the fact that I’m sitting with my back to him, and very clearly working on my computer – it’s time for me to hear his story.
The headline is that he drives a big old pickup truck with “dually” wheel sets. He’s so proud of this beast of a vehicle. I’m guessing it gets about 0.10mile/gallon.
Not sure what a dually is? I’ll let the folks at ItStillRuns.com explain it for you:
A “dually” truck is a pickup that has dual rear wheels on each side. These pickup trucks are fitted with heavy-duty brakes, heavy-duty shocks and heavy-duty springs. Furthermore, they often run the largest and most powerful engines that the manufacturer offers. These pickups are called “one-ton” pickups because of their ability to carry more than 2,000 lbs. in their beds and tow large trailers.
He has re-built a lot of this old truck himself. Which makes ask: “Why did you bring it here?”.
Ah… I shouldn’t have asked – he’s here for a mandatory Emissions Test. Forced upon him by the (I can’t use his language here for the chance ladies will read…) government, you’d think he had to turn in his Navy cap.
There’s a closed-circuit monitor in the waiting room that shows the live feed from the Emissions Testing bay. We’ve been watching the pros here at PepBoys try to back in the dually beast onto the testing rollers. They’ve moved the rollers out wide, they’d moved other stuff in the room out of the way. They’ve backed up and moved forward and tried again many times over. They can’t get it. The narration from Admiral Dually is fantastic. It must be like what my father sounded like when he’d watch me try to fix something on my own. “Didn’t they teach these guys who to do ANYTHING….” (more choice language).
BREAKING NEWS!! Literally – they just broke off the metal bar that holds the heavy duty mud flaps on the back of his truck . There’s a guy standing on camera holding the long bar (in two halves) with the mud flaps hanging off each end. This guy is about to explode… he’s on the move. I’m just looking for a place to duck and cover. Maybe in the not-a-fridge cabinet under the coffee station.
A retired woman has joined the party. The infomercial has now changed over to a skin care/airbrush makeup routine. What’s this new lady doing? She brought a book and she’s reading! I wanted to applaud my new friend.
The Admiral is back. He’s seething, but seems soothed by staring at the TV and the expert makeup artist on the infomercial – she has quite a pedigree – she was a makeup intern on Modern Family. With Mrs. Reader here now, he’s keeping quiet.
My time is winding down here at PepBoys. The counter guy just checked on me to let me know we’re getting closer and to see if I wanted to add anything to the oil change (air filter, wipers, etc etc etc).
He asked if I wanted a coffee – I politely said no. He asked about soda – they have some ginger ale and Pepsi Vanilla if I’d like a bottle. I declined that as well.
But you have to ask yourself – Pepsi Vanilla? I don’t mind Pepsi – but Pepsi Vanilla is the one choice you have? Do people drink Pepsi Vanilla? Was there a sale at WalMart for Pepsi Vanilla cause they realized NO ONE was buying it? I don’t get – but I think it must be up there with putting powdered creamer in your coffee.
Was really nice of Counter Guy to check in though. Unfortunately for him, he got blindsided by The Admiral. Time to rip this guy (he wasn’t around earlier) about the mud flaps. Mrs. Reader hasn’t looked up from her book at all during Admiral’s new tirade. Counter guy is calmly explaining that The Admiral signed the form that has (in small print, I’m sure) a section that states they aren’t responsible for any damage to added on products to the exterior of the vehicle (same as a car wash). Oh boy. I think Admiral is about to call in an air strike.
The smell of rubber (the whole entry way is full of floor to ceiling towers of tires) and motor oil will soon be gone. My time with Mrs. Reader and The Admiral has been real. Thank YOU for sharing this time with us. Much like my demin-clad family here in the waiting room, we’ve just shared this small slice of life. If nothing else, I leave you with a small piece of sage wisdom…
“Make EVERY move the RIGHT move…… with U-Box Containers!”