Scott Hardie | February 28, 2002
Kelly had to go to the ER tonight for an ear infection, so I waited in chairs for about thirty minutes. I avoided the locals when possible, and talked to them when necessary. The hospital waiting room has become infamous among Kelly's friends for the time they were waiting there with textbooks and two guys hit on them, saying, "You girls mus' be from the college, cuz you're readin' books."

First there was an old man who said hi to me when I came in and looked like he wanted more conversation, but I politely brushed him off and set about reading my book. Then a little kid came in screaming like Caillou (watch PBS daytime), and playing with toys next to me. He looked at me like he wanted to talk to me, but the old man sufficed. His dad tried to get him to sit still, but you can guess how that went. Anyway, they all left after maybe ten minutes.

Then a guy with a big black cowboy hat and cowboy boots sat down beside me and shook my hand and introduced himself as Larry. He sipped a coffee and made himself comfortable, and I ignored him. After about two minutes he asked me if he could turn up Nick at Nite, and I gave up the book because Sam Malone was talking too loud. Another ten minutes passed, then the commercials came on, and Larry opened up to me. Kelly walked up within ten seconds, but for the next five minutes, we stood in the middle of the waiting room, talking to Larry, who remained seated in his chair. He asked me how I could read that book, and I said I had to read it for class. He saw the size of it (900 pages) and asked if most classes had books that big. I said no, most had a lot of short books, but this class had three long books. He asked if all I did for college was read books and I said yeah, that and take tests on 'em. He looked disgusted. He said he couldn't read or write, but he was great with engines. Give him an engine of any kind, or some plumbing, or some carpentry work, and he could do anything. He could fix any car anywhere. I politely said I wished I had that skill. He talked for two minutes about his shop class in high school and how he showed up the teacher. He talked about Davenport and how we should stay out of it. He talked about Florida and how he felt sorry for us going down there (I think it was sarcasm but I couldn't tell for sure). He talked about how his stepson was sick with a fever and the boy's mother was in there with him then. He talked about how he knew he wasn't going to get any sleep that night before wallpapering a bedroom the next day. He talked about how he knew he was going to be in chairs for several hours. (He may still be there right now.) Eventually, after shaking his hand three times, I managed to get away and go home.

Before you go thinking I'm antisocial (I'm introverted, thank you very much), I just wasn't in the mood for chatting this particular night. I wanted to read my book and go home. Other times I've been in the waiting room and chatted comfortably and at length with strangers. Anyway, meeting Larry the mechanic was a unique experience for me, and I knew walking away that I'd post it to TC later that night.

K. R. | March 1, 2002
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