Thursday, September 6, 2007

Small Talks and Rent-A-Cops, Part 2

a follow-up:

The best part about blogging is the ability to share your thoughts quickly and publicly. The worst part about blogging is the ability to share your thoughts quickly and publicly.

I learned the second of these twin lessons when I re-read Small Talks and Rent-A-Cops, a blog entry I posted more than a month ago. In that piece, I gently teased an Elvis-coiffed aw-shucks security guard with whom I small-talked at the used bookstore. Or maybe my teasing wasn't that gentle: "I can imagine him in third grade, the kind of kid who'd build a worm farm for the science fair just to swallow a couple of their bodies. He'd get a C on the project, and he wouldn't really know where he went wrong."

So I made fun of the guy. Fine. Guilty as charged. I'm not apologizing for my words, but I am rethinking them. "Nice entry but kinda depressing," a reader commented at the time, "I got the feeling of a slight superiority complex on your part; no offense but maybe that's what you were going for."

Hm. At first I brushed off the critique, but later I figured she had a point. What was my essay if not a series of can-I-top-this variations on the same theme: that Garrett, frankly, was a dope? A goofy, kind-hearted dope, but a dope nonetheless? I turned him into a caricature. Although much of what he said about Chuck E. Cheese's was easy to caricaturize, Garrett was still a real person who meant more to me than our goofball small talk suggested. I realize that now more than before, for I don't see Garrett these days, and I probably won't see him again.

Parking-lot security is a job with a high turnover rate. Maybe Garrett was transferred to a position in a different part of town, or maybe he was fired, or maybe he quit. His replacement is not much for smiling, laughing, or chit-chatting. "Appreciate it," is all the new guy says when I initial his security clipboard. "Appreciate it,"he repeats, every hour on the hour, until he utters "See you tomorrow" at the end of the night. Gone is Garrett's overcologned mist and "It's me again!" drawl, and well, I kind of miss him.

Seriously.

It'd be overreaching to say he was my "buddy", but he wasn't just fodder for writing jokes either. He was a real dude with a real personality, and that's no small feat.

"How ya doin'?" he'd ask me. "Can't complain." "You can't complain," he'd repeat, grinning, "cause' nobody here wants to listen to you." And then he'd let loose a delighted cackle, and I'd laugh too, a real laugh without the artifice of small talk, a laugh with him and not at him.

Thanks for that, Garrett, and good luck to you, wherever you are. I'm sorry for suggesting that you used to eat worms.


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2 comments:

Anonymous said...

This guy was, indeed, an Elvis wanna be whether he ate worms or not. But, as this blog entry states, "it takes all kinds" and each of us touch others lives in many ways; both good and bad. I'm so fortunate to have met you and, without even realizing it, you touched my life in a positive way. Your welcoming smile, your humor and your brilliant writing all made an impression on me.

If I cried, kicked and screamed would it keep you in town at our beloved used book store? I doubt it and I can't fault you for wanting to experience life to it's fullest. I hope happiness, good fortune and health follow you wherever your life takes you. You are a true prince in my book and will definitely be missed!

Jan

P.S. I do hope you continue posting to this blog twice a week from across the miles! I'm begging, man. What else would I have to look forward to on Thursdays and Sundays?

Alex Pollack said...

Jan,

Thanks so much for the beyond kind words. At the risk of sounding presumptous, I'm very appreciative that I was able to build a relationship with you largely through the written word. Your thoughtful reading and commenting on this blog motivates me to keep writing. Thanks for that, Jan. I won't ever forget it.

As for the future of this blog, I'll have more on that soon. There might be some changes to its structure and update patterns, but one thing is for sure: it will go on.

Stay tuned.

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