Too far from the tree.
I've been asked on numerous occasions where I get my sense of humor and the ease at which I can be a real smartass. This morning I was listening to George Nory on Coast to Coast AM and he was relating something that happened to him over this past weekend and it reminded me of something... Apparently he was in Los Angeles on Saturday and had tickets to a hockey game. He hailed a taxi and told the driver he wanted to go the "Staples". Well, Staples Center is where the hockey team plays in LA... But after a while the cab left him off at a downtown LA Staples Office store...
My first "real" job, where I went to work and was paid for my time was at the Gulf gas station and auto repair shop at Holme Ave. & Willits Rd. About a mile from my house. I was thirteen and my main duties were to pump gas, check tire pressure & oil in the customer's vehicles and sometimes repair and re-mount tires and fix flats. (Remember "full-service" gas stations? I'm betting most of you don't)
So I would work there a few hours after school and weekends to earn a little pocket money. And I was paid in cash every day which was also really nice. But the Gulf station was more than just a filling station, it was a place for the men in the neighborhood to congregate, drink coffee and bullshit each other, my father being one of the weekend ringleaders in this informal cabal of Gumbas.
One day I was working and my dad was telling war stories, a great black Cadillac with Ohio tags pulls in. I go out and do my job, fill er' up, wash the windshield... Check the oil sir?
The car had four men in it, and they definitely didn't speak English too well... I'm not sure if it was German, Italian or what language they were speaking, but it certainly wasn't English. But they were really rude and nasty, and kept demanding "LIBERTYBELL, LIBERTYBELL!" and that's all I really could understand.
Oh, I get it. They want directions. I wasn't sure so I went and got my dad. He came out and gave them flawless directions to one of our nation's most revered monuments to liberty, the Liberty Bell, which at that time was still housed at Independence Hall in Downtown Philly, about twelve miles south of us on the newly completed stretch of I-95. After paying me they drove off rather happily with clean windows, a full tank (.43 9/10 premium) and in firm control of the directions my father had oh so diligently gave them, heading towards the entrance pamp of I-95 southbound.
I walked into the office to get a coke and my father and his cronies were having a good laugh over something... I asked what was so funny...
"Didn't you see the racing forms on the dashboard, Tom?"
"They wanted Liberty Bell Racetrack... NOT the Liberty Bell!"
With that the group broke out in another side-splitting uproar of laughter...
Liberty Bell Racetrack was a harness-racing track that was only about two miles from the gas station and my house... It's not there anymore, where it stands now is Franklin Mills Mall... So, in my father's mind, because these guys were rude to his son, he sent them on a little sightseeing trip instead of the trifecta window...
Now you know where I get it from!
Copyright 2005 Thomas J Wolfenden