The phone was ringing. I hurriedly tried to unlock the door to get inside.
“Mike is that you, this is Heather.” The voice was familiar to me. Heather used to be the office manager at the firm I formerly worked at. “I’m working over at The Supply House, and you sent your resume for the job opening we have here. My boss would like to meet you. Can you come over for an interview?”
I could hardly contain the elation that surged through me. “As long as I can see your smiling face again, I’d be happy to.”
“Great, I’ll see you at two-thirty, okay?”
I pulled into the parking lot at the address Heather gave me. The place looked different now. It used to be a Chevrolet dealership many years ago. I remember coming here as a kid with my Dad to see the new cars every fall.
Job interviews always stir up those fears you’d rather never experience. Will they like me? Will they offer me a job? What do I say if they ask how much money I want to make? All of my nervousness flew out the window when I saw Heather’s face. She was waiting at the door to greet me.
“Mike it’s nice to see you again. Come, let me introduce you to Mr. Williams. He’s the owner of this place and is waiting to meet you.”
Heather escorted me down the hall to the conference room. Mr. Williams stood as we entered the room. Heather made the appropriate introductions and closed the door behind her. Mr. Williams was a very large man. His hand swallowed mine as we shook hands. I felt at ease immediately and laughed to myself when I noticed his attire. I wore my best three-piece suit; he had on shorts and a dirty, ripped t-shirt that had a faded image of Bob Marley on it.
The first thing he asked me was about my relationship with Heather. I chose my words carefully and explained that there wasn’t a “relationship” beyond the fact that we had both worked for the same firm, that had gone out of business, and had occasions to work on some projects together.
Mr. Williams went on to describe the tasks that would be expected of me and asked me what qualifications I had to fulfil his needs. I must have said all of the right things, because before the interview was over, he offered me the job.
“I think I’d like to offer you the job, what do you say? Would you like to work for me?”
“I have a couple of questions.” I said, “You did look at my resume, right? Because you must’ve noticed that everywhere I’ve ever worked, has gone out of business. Are you sure you want to hire me?”
He laughed and said, “We’ll try real hard not to let that happen. Lose the suit and you can start tomorrow.”
I, of course, beat my alarm to the punch. There was no way I was going to be late on my first day on my new job.
I entered through the showroom door and met Paul. He was going to be my immediate supervisor. We took the grand tour of the grounds where the overstock was kept, and the pole barns where the bulk of the inventory was housed, along with the delivery trucks and forklifts.
Paul was a likable guy. He made my first conversation with him seem like talking to an old long-lost friend. We soon discovered that we had mutual friends, and that we had played ball against each other years ago. Neither of us remembered the other, but it didn’t matter, we both foresaw many war stories in our future. The doorbell rang and Paul had to go take care of the customer. He told me to go into the main garage area and nose around, and he’d catch up with me shortly.
The outside of the building was completely renovated with new light gray metal siding, hanging vertically, covering the old block walls. I entered the building through the man door and stepped back in time.
I was in the service bay area of the old dealership. Bricked in openings where the overhead doors used to be lined one side. The faded lettering was still visible on the soot covered walls. Above the old doorways, you could make out the signs: ‘Alignments’ over one, ‘Oil & Lube’ over another, ‘Tires’ over another. Way above the fluorescent lighting were the old oil heaters and industrial ceiling fans.
Something came over me, I stood there for a moment and closed my eyes. It wasn’t so dark. The sun shone through the multiple windows, and a light breeze filtered through the open overhead doors. The garage was packed full of gleaming new 1960 Chevys. The first one to get my attention was the Impala convertible at the front of the line. It was Roman Red with a black striped inlay down the side. The white interior matched the canvas convertible top. Wide white sidewall tires surrounded the full wheel covers that reflected the sun so bright that it made you squint your eyes.
Next in line was the one that my Dad was looking at. It was a Cascade Green station wagon. It had a brand-new safety feature called seat belts. I liked the idea of folding down the back seat, creating a huge play area, for me, for those dreadful Sunday rides.
That year, Chevy came out with a new small compact car called the Corvair. I took an instant liking to it because I could sit behind the steering wheel and touch the pedals with my six-year-old legs.
Back in those days, car styles changed with every model year. The new cars were put on display around the beginning of October for the following year. I was a car nut, just like my Dad, and we would make our annual pilgrimage to all of the dealerships when the unveilings took place.
Murdock Motors was our favorite stop because when all was said and done, my Dad was a Chevy guy, and every other year when he bought a new car, you just knew that it was going to be a Chevy.
After giving all of the cars our final inspection, we went back over to the station wagon. Dad walked around it several times and finally sat in it, playing with all the dials. He let me sit in the front seat next to him.
“So, Dad, you gonna buy it?” I asked, secretly hoping that he might chose the convertible.
“What do you think, Mikey, do you like it?” he didn’t even look at me when he asked, he just glared at the dashboard with his hands on the steering wheel.
Even at that age, I knew enough to agree with him and told him how much I liked that one.
I don’t know if Dad bought that car that day, but I remember at one time having one just like it.
“Hey, Mike, you with us?” yelled Paul from the doorway, jolting me back to reality. “Come give me a hand over here, would you?”
I followed Paul into the showroom. After cashing out the customer, Paul turned to me and asked if I would mind helping the customer carry is packages out while he tended to the next person in line.
I picked up the boxes and stacked them on top of each other, taking as many as I could at once, and followed the customer to his car.
“Mine’s the wagon.” He said.
I peeked around the boxes and stopped dead in my tracks. There sat a Cascade Green 1960 Chevy station wagon.