Wednesday, February 20, 2008

That Guy

I swam today for the first time since I hurt my back last week. It was only for thirty minutes, but I was still very glad to be working out again.

In winter, after I swim, I'm cold and hungry. There's a Schlotzsky's (sandwich place) about a mile away from the pool, so I like to go through the drive-through, get a sandwich, and eat it in the car while the heater is is blasting.

I can't explain why I enjoy doing this so much, but I do. By the time I finish eating, I'm not hungry and I'm not cold. I'm so relaxed that I'm almost sleepy, and as poorly as I sleep, that's a good feeling.

So I'm eating my sandwich in the parking lot, and I look over to the side. There's another guy sitting in his car a few rows away from me, and he nods.

Oh, no. I've been acknowledged by The Guy Who Eats Lunch In His Car.

You know this guy. He drives a station wagon from 1985, and it's got a dog cage in the back, plus newspapers stacked up from fifteen years ago. If you look inside the window, you'll see paperback novels strewn all over the floorboards, too.

Then there's the seat cover. The Guy Who Eats Lunch In His Car will always, always have some kind of cover on the driver's seat, whether it's a towel or some kind of seat cushion (always with lumbar support).

He also has at least a dozen bumper stickers on the back of his station wagon, most of them so weathered as to be almost unreadable.

During the work week, he eats lunch in his car, and he's done so every day since 1983. He almost missed a day in 1991, when there was a torrential rain and his roof was leaking. He'd duct-taped clear plastic to the roof of his car, but water started leaking out the sides. He almost gave up and went inside, but instead he drove to a car wash and just sat in one of the bays.

It doesn't matter how hot it is outside--it could be a hundred degrees, but The Guy Who Eats Lunch In His Car will have the windows rolled down. And his hair will never, ever, look like it's been combed.

So I'm looking at this guy, and I realize he's nodding to me because he thinks I'm like him.

Sure, I'm not driving a station wagon, but I've got almost everything else. I've got the driver's seat covered with a towel (I'm not completely dry). I've got the uncombed hair (I just got out of the pool). I've got the clutter (I've got my work clothes in the back seat, and a jacket, and I've got all my swimming gear in the front seat).

Damn. I'm only twelve bumper stickers and a dog cage away.

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