Conversations, Pt. II

November 2020

Friday after Thanksgiving was quiet around here. No scheduled calls or zoom meetings. The office calendar was empty. Nothing to do but relax. This was difficult for me. I need structure. My mornings are usually filled with people wanting advice which is “time sensitive.” My afternoons are busy videoconferencing with clients, architects, and engineers. But Friday was all mine to do as I wished, and I decided on something I have been meaning to do since I returned to Florida a month ago: a run in the wetlands trails that fringe Lake Okeechobee. It is a short run but there is a good mile and a half of natural track with plenty of roots and mud to make it satisfy an old athlete. I wore a mask the entire run and am pleased to report that all but a few stragglers on the trail wore masks as well. I kept my social distance when I passed walkers.

Lunch afterward, then on the way home, I stopped to get my old ’62 Jag cleaned. The car wash was mainly an open lot that appeared to have once been a service station–abandoned garages are a common sight along Dixie Highway in Riviera Beach. But this one was manned by a woman named Jeannie. Her hair was purple, she carried a lot of keys, and she ran the place with the assistance of a couple of obedient men. Jeannie is superb at what she does and dropping off the 60-year-old Jag was like delivering a sirloin steak to her for lunch. She attacked the job with all the enthusiasm one can muster for a car wash. When she opened the hood and saw the grime around the fuel pump, I heard a distinct OMG. She practically climbed in to examine the engine. The men assisting just followed her commands, wiping and scraping inside and out until Jeannie was satisfied. With 60 years of wear and tear, the Jag usually doesn’t shine much when cleaned up. There is rust in all the usual places. But after Jeannie and her crew were done, I saw a glimmer of how it might have looked when it rolled off the Jaguar factory line. There were a few folks passing by who popped in when they saw the unusual car. One fellow, Wendell, told me about a vintage Jag he restored but had to sell to meet mortgage payments. When he saw the interior of mine, he recommended a friend, a tradesman, who specializes in car woodwork. The old Jag needs it.

Riviera Beach is an up-and-coming area. Businesses like Jeannie’s, among the empty lots and repair shops, are the green shoots in a still mostly depressed area. I was happy to support Jeannie and give her some car joy. She told me she usually details used cars for sale out of back yard lots off the side streets in the area. I told her I would return soon. Given that the car is such a draw, maybe she could use it somehow as a marketing tool for her car wash. Time to get back to business.

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