Wednesday, August 24, 2005

Body Shop #1

When I was 19 I worked in an auto body shop in East Oakland. Was working on a car owned by a guy who reminded me of "Youngblood Priest" from the movie "Superfly". He had a reaaaaaal low voice, he was really thin, wore a full length coat and a wide brim hat, and he would stop by and see how progress was going each afternoon.

We were talking one day and he asked me my name. After I told him I asked his. His reply: "Robert, but the bitches call me 'Hollywood'". Well, I couldn't argue with that so I kept on water-sanding the paint (this makes it smooth by removing a very thin layer before applying a clear coat). He said, "What are you doing?". I told him and he told me I should be putting the paint on -- not taking it off.

The day his car was to be picked up he and his partner hung out in our "break" room, and proceeded to polish off a fifth of Tequila and snort some coke. By the time 5pm rolled around they were feeling no pain, but were very loud. My boss' brother (who had been shot in the stomach in the spray paint booth a year earlier -- I forget why -- and now carried a gun), had stopped by.

He took offence at the customers' loudness, an argument ensued, he pulled his gun and threatened to "shoot your black asses." (These brothers were from South Carolina and about 1 step removed from the KKK).

At any rate, no one was shot and the car was delivered. And I started thinking about a career change.