Saturday, August 27, 2005

Body Shop #4

The last body shop I worked at was also in Berkeley, and was considered "top shelf". It too, however, was a den of mischief.

They got all the BMW dealership's work, and the "shop image" was first rate. However, the owner lied 80% of the time. He would loan out a customer's car to another customer, or send me to pick up parts with a customer's car. He would borrow money from a loan shark who looked like a 60 year old Prince Valiant with his black-dyed page-boy haircut, and he told me once he was a lieutenant in the "organization".

He would give me $1000 in hundreds every so often to deposit in the bank, with a pre-filled in deposit slip. One time he miscounted and I brought him back the extra hundred. This honesty on my part freaked him out so badly he went in the office and closed the door for almost an hour.

He paid off insurance adjusters and his shop was always full. He'd put broken parts on cars before the adjuster came in to write the estimate, and then put the unbroken ones back on afterwards.

His head painter, Bernie, was my boss, of sorts. He belonged to a group called the "Disciples of the Devil", which is 180 degrees from what I believe. One day I was praying because things were just too weird, and I said "God, he goes or I go, and I need this job so I should stay."

A little later Bernie decided to put a hex on me, which is something he did periodically -- he put one on his brother in law for some reason. He told me when it was going to happen, and a couple of the details. I told him that since I was a son of God he was out of luck this time (I John 4:4). All that week he was tired, irritable, cranky (a few years later I was talking to a former practicing warlock who explained the why's and wherefore's of this).

Come Saturday night my hex did not arrive (I was watching a W.C. Fields movie). Shortly thereafter Bernie quit (he had been there 4 years). A few months later I quit to go do something else, and Bernie came back. A year later I came by and borrowed a paint polishing machine from him.

Many years later I was talking to my old boss (see "Body Shop #1") and found out that Bernie had been shot in the face and killed in a dispute over a horse he was boarding on his ranch for someone.