Cold rain falls in the river, flows down to the sea, gets into the skyline, circles endlessly. Same old rain on the wind, same old pain in my soul.

Monday, July 6, 2009

Thompson Security Co.

When I was younger, much younger, I did some crazy things, though they seemed perfectly sane to me at the time. In the early eighties, I had a nice job behind a desk as a regional sales manager for a large corporation. I had taken the short cut to the fast track, and all I had to do was play the game. Trouble is, I never could play the game.

So one weekend, with no thoughts to future consequences or care of common sense, I decided to quit. I had been there three years and back then, three years was well beyond the life expectancy of anything I might be found involved in.

There was no plan beyond getting in my rattle-trap Pontiac on Monday and pointing south. Somewhere around Kansas I flipped a coin and Texas won. I fished the Colorado in Austin for supper while living in my car. I danced with Miss Houston at Mickey Gilley’s just after Urban Cowboy came out and agreed to share living quarters with a bum under a bridge over a six pack.

But Texas was loud and unkind and gave me a traffic ticket I couldn’t pay so the Pontiac set sail and easted, to Florida.

I had a friend there, just slightly less stupid than me. He let me stay with him and his roommate. I sold my blood, I worked at an ABC liquor, and I squeezed dead fish and pulled gonads. But before all these glamorous ways of making a living, I installed peep sights.
Here’s where it gets interesting.

Back in Texas, my black sheep uncle whom I had never previously met, told me of a great scheme for jackasses like me to make some money. Here’s the deal; you go to Lowes (for Marion) and buy a two dollar peep sight. You drape a drill over your shoulder and go looking for neighborhoods of old people easily given to fear and no peep sight.

knock knock

“Hello! My name is Mike and I represent the Thompson Security Company. Did you know there has been a rash of burglaries in this neighborhood?” I would lower my voice near the tail like the bad guys might be listening in.

Old women-because old men were out fishing or golfing this time of morning in Florida- would clutch their drab blouses with both hands and oh my! with exaggerated brows mostly painted on.

‘”Yes, I’m afraid it’s true, and did you know you’re vulnerable?” I would raise one eye brow.
About this time, I would also glance over my shoulder for any sign the cops were onto me.
I would go on to say how my company, out of deep concern, was installing peep sights in homes without them for only ten dollars. After that, she would be able to always know who was lurking just outside her door. State of the art security for only ten dollars!

The beauty of this scheme was that it only takes a quick drilling and screwing in of the sight for an eight dollar profit and the old lady would feel safe. In theory, it was all win-win. But for some reason, old people in Florida in 1982 were not all that interested in state of the art security.

The last time I did one of these installations, I was able to convince the lady that rapists and burglars were watching her even now from bushes and beat-up chevy vans. She wanted to wait and ask her husband but I convinced her of the great surprise it would be to him when he returned to find his home so much safer for only fifteen dollars. (Due to slow sales, I had to raise the price.)

Now this was no shanty, this was good digs with a gorgeous door. As she watched nervously, I quickly drilled from the outside without taking so much as a glance to the inside. The bit seemed to go through too quickly. I swung the door open and peeked to the inside. There were square indentations on the inside of the doors and beautiful inlaid decorations. This door hadn’t come from Lowes, that's for sure.

There were now two immediate problems. One, the peep sight was too long for the whole drilled in the upper corner of one of the receded squares. When you screwed the thing in, it just hung out one side or the other and you could just push it back and forth like a cheap trombone. The second problem was that the wood had exploded on the inside. Like Butch Cassidy had blown the thing open with dynamite.

With one glance, I could see her look of deep consternation and my mind found another gear I had forgotten about. I quickly smiled to calm her fears as she nearly strangled herself in blouse-clutch.

Hmm. Seems I have a small problem. But don’t worry, I have a shorter sight back at the shop and I can make those white splinters not even noticeable,” I lied.
“But my husband will be home soon. I can’t let him see it like this!” Her eyebrows disappeared into her blue hair.

I waved her off and told her the shop was nearby. Don’t worry about a thing.
I then left and went back to the apartment. I really did intend to make things right somehow. But as I leaned on the railing trying to hacksaw the too-long brass sight, my friends showed up and asked if I wanted to go out on the boat. I thought of an angry husband possibly now home, and of a boat and a cooler full of beer.

I wish I could tell you I didn't throw the thing in the bushes, that I did the right thing and became fast friends with the family whose door I had so badly mutilated, and married their beautiful daughter. The best I can do is tell you I resigned from the Thompson Security Company and never again maimed a strangers door. And in case anyone is still looking for me in Florida or Texas, (yeah, I know, Texas never forgets) I declare this to be a work of fiction.
Wink, wink.
(I don't mean in any way to justify my behavior either real of fictional in this post. It was a recession. I was broke and desperate and figured my incarceration wouldn't help anyone. If I could go back and make it right, I would.)