Getting my Car Fixed

I was sitting at a shaded outdoor table at the Toyota dealership in Mission Valley, waiting for my car to get serviced, when a guy walked up and sat next to me. I mean right next to me at the same table and there were others. I had my laptop and was trying to finish an essay on gay marriage, not really looking for a conversation.

He was about 30 years old, black, handsome with a trimmed beard and short haircut. Dressed casual: T-shirt and jeans, not long or short. He told me something about his car needing to get fixed. But his car wasn’t there.

“I’m looking for the guy who gives rides to where your car is.”

That’s what he said.

But the guy doesn’t really do that; he gives rides home to people who need to leave their car at the dealership overnight for service. Well, I soon found out this guy’s car was his home.

“Do you sleep in your car?” I said, and he said yes.

I can’t remember everything he said after that but it could’ve been called a tirade if he hadn’t said it in such an even-tempered voice. He said he didn’t want to live in a house if it just meant the people who owned the house would get paid for it, and then would tell you what to do and treat you like a child. He thought sleeping in his car was fine.

“Where you take a shower?” I said, noticing his good hygiene.

“Anywhere. San Diego State.”

I pictured him walking past the front desk of the Aztec Recreation Center and getting curious looks from student staffers who wondered if he was really enrolled, and didn’t they see him just a couple of days ago?

As this was happening another guy walked up to me and asked if he could borrow my phone. I did what I usually do. I asked what was the number was, to make sure he’s not trying to call Nicaragua, and dialed it. I handed him the phone and he stood silent for about a minute, handed it back to me and said thanks. No answer I guess.

The homeless guy told me his father was practically rich but didn’t pay him any mind.

“Where are you from?”

“Back East.”

“Does your dad live in San Diego?”

“Maybe.”

My cell phone rang. It was the person who’d just been called by the guy who borrowed my phone. He didn’t speak English too well and I had a hard time understanding him but tried to explain that I didn’t call him, and I didn’t know who called him because the guy just borrowed my phone and he wasn’t around anymore. The man on the other end hung up.

But my phone rang again. The man I just talked to told me to tell the one who borrowed my phone that the car was returned and it was at the airport.

The car was at the airport.

Since my car was still in the shop I said good luck to the homeless man, and decided to cross the street to go buy some paint at Home Depot. As I waited to cross the street a car pulled right in front of me as it took a right turn out of the driveway to the Toyota dealership. I looked inside the blue sedan to see the guy who borrowed my phone.

“The car was returned and it’s at the airport!”

I wish I could have told him that. I may never finish that essay about gay marriage.

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