a short while I laid awake at night.
laid awake at night due to the feebleness of my being
able to conjure up a method for transporting my
woodworking shop on a twenty-five hundred mile jaunt
from Montana to Virginia.
soon tired of lying awake at night.
retrospect our decision to move was pretentious but
during the split second it was made, it seemed like the
right thing to do. I'm certain others have experienced
the trauma from this type of decision. One that
immediately comes to mind is the person who has just
launched himself off a twelve-hundred foot bridge with
nothing but a rubber band tied around his ankles. So,
yeah, mine was the exact sort of action that could exude
a statement like...
"Dear God...please let me live through this and I swear
I won't fart in church any more! Thank you. Amen."
like to think that God often ignores that sort of
sentiment but enjoys the hell out of standing back to
watch the spectacle that generated it nevertheless.
Alas, the decision to move had been made. The question
of how continued to loom until one day I was driving by
one of the used car lots in Ronan and there, parked at
the rear of the lot, were two of your basic yellow
school busses...a short one and a long one.
pulled onto the lot and considered the short bus but
realized that it simply couldn't contain all the
equipment in my shop. But, I thought as I climbed
aboard, what about a long one? It didn't take much
envisioning to see that with all the seats removed it
was a cavernous space indeed. The solution to my
predicament had been solved and with that I jumped off
the bus and went inside to dicker over price.
my way over to the office I speculated on the long or
short bus option. What if I had chosen the short
variety? Could there possibly be some obscure or
forgotten reason that it appealed to me? If so, then it
could possibly mean I went to school on a short bus,
which would explain our decision to move in the first
place. But, for the moment, I was reasonably certain I
hadn't gone to school on a short bus.
far as selling automobiles, Ronan Auto Body is arguably
the premier car lot not only here in the Mission Valley,
but in western Montana. Glen Wunderlich, son of the
owner, is an automobile salesman. And he possesses all
the attributes you need in order to be a good automobile
You can't be stupid - you must be savvy
You must have sticktoitiveness
Do not allow yourself to be drawn into any
You must have ties to the Mafia
be a good automobile salesman, all of these attributes
are important to have. The best attribute to have,
however, is knowing when a good mark, vis-Ã -vis, a
victim for a soft touch, has just walked into your
office. I reflected on how good it felt to be neither of
ya, Glen! Alright if I sit down for a moment?"
Without even looking up from whatever it was he was
reading he said, "Go away, Joe, you're bothering me."
ha, that's a good one, Glen," I guffawed, "But, you
don't understand. I'm really interested in the bus you
have out back. You know the one? The one that's been
sitting out there for over two years now?"
you must be talking about the short bus."
Squinting my eyes and turning my head sideways I asked,
"What's that crack supposed to mean?"
"Nothing, Joe, nothing. Now, really, can't you see I'm
busy? Go away and leave me alone."
Glen," I objected, and then frowned at the comic book in
his hands, "I really wanna buy it! Yeah, I know I said
the same thing when I was looking at that truck, but...I
really, really mean it this time! Honest!"
"Yeah, yeah, show me $2800.00 and I might dust off the
chair for ya."
"Nah," I said as I reached down and swished my hat
across the seat, "You think I just jumped off a bus? I
know shrewd auto sales talk when I hear it. I'll dust it
off for myself, thank you. Now, let's haggle." I said
and got comfortably seated.
a sigh Glen turned a page and quipped, "Alright will
$2600.00 get you out of my office?"
I piped up as I sucked my teeth, "'fraid not, Old Bean."
He sighed, "How 'bout $2500.00?"
"Tell you what, Glen. For $2200.00 I'll walk out your
door. Hell, I'll even put the dust back on the chair and
you'll never know I was here."
"That's Ok," He replied as he turned another page, "I
never thought you were here anyway."
Squinting my eyes and turning my head sideways I asked,
"And what's that crack supposed to mean?"
"Nothing, Joe, nothing," He said as he tossed me the
keys, "Now...really...go away and leave me alone. Oh,
and you'll be sure to pay Guido for the bus on your way
out the door, won't you?"
walked out knowing that a bus was the perfect choice
because it would it serve a dual purpose; a moving van
and be a storage facility once there. It then occurred
to me that after it was unloaded it would make a great
camper one day!
"Man," I said, "This is getting better as I go along."
runs on propane and has two, big 66-gallon tanks. So, I
reasoned, let's say it gets 5 miles to the gallon,
that's a 660-mile range. By factoring in hills and the
load it'll be carrying then I could reasonably expect a
"Plus," I stretched out my arms and said to no one in
particular, "Propane is everywhere."
often heard dumb expressions like, "Gold is where you
find it" and considered them to be of such deep
profoundness that only philosophers were meant to ponder
over them. It also occurred to me that for someone to
utter stupid things like that they would have to attend
at least four years of college and since I hadn't, I
could never be one. My disappointment was groundless because before this little adventure was over I
would evolve into such a capable philosopher that I
could ooze out scads of profound statements straight off
the cuff. But for now I couldn't be bothered with such
nonsense - I had bigger fish to fry.
had to rid the bus of its seats.
know, I spent the better part of my school years riding
in a bus - well, that is to say when I wasn't kicked off
of it - and it never once crossed my mind as to how many
bolts there are that secure the seats to the floor. Oh,
and in those same 12 years of riding school busses I
never once thought to question if all the same type of
bolts were used on them, either.
of them had this size bolt and then that size bolt and
then the bolts ranged from metric to standard to what I
could only speculate as being Martian because I never
did find a wrench or socket that fit them properly. Some
had screws with a Phillips head, some had a flathead. A
couple even had square drive. It was like a Mongolian
gang-bang. Hell, I wouldn't have been a damned bit
surprised if I found one that was held onto the floor
with bent over nails.
didn't have to close my eyes to imagine what Burt and
Ernie, the two imbeciles who are employed as "Seat
Installation Technicians" down at Clarence
Durflinger's School Bus Factory, did every day...
Out behind the school bus factory is the world's
largest auto graveyard and Burt and Ernie start
their day by spending 3 hours removing every
nut, bolt and screw they can find and then they
mix them all together. When they're thoroughly
mixed Ernie turns his attention on spending the
remaining part of his day installing the seats
while Burt heads off to Mars to get that special
wrench he needs for that odd-looking bolt he
found. Meanwhile, Dufus Durflinger who is Burt
and Ernie's helper and Clarence's red-headed
step-child, is over in the corner sniffing glue
to prepare himself for when it's his turn to get
on the bus and nail down that last seat.
if to rid it of a vivid picture, I shook to my head and
tried to focus on the immediate task but I was almost
too tired to focus. Indeed, I was getting plenty of
exercise from constantly running back inside the shop to
gather up some strange wrench or exotic screwdriver or
leaping from the bus to grope around underneath of it
every time I ran across a bolt that had a nut. When the
final seat was loosened and removed I emerged from the
bus looking as if I had single-handedly stopped the
entire German offensive during the Battle of the Bulge.