This is the story of a guy who comes into my work. I’m not big on real names, so we’ll call him Junior, hence the title. Anyways, this guy is something else. He’s constantly working on small engines, mostly Briggs and Stratton, and all of them are so old that the parts I order for him come in dirty, NOS, faded boxes or waxed envelopes. He’s about seven feet tall, has hair that sticks out everywhere from under his leather ball cap, and always… ALWAYS has a cigarette twisted off in his mouth.
Now, the tragic part. Years ago, he got in a car accident and ended up crawling home in the winter. He nearly froze to death, but thanks to universal health care and a little luck, he survived. He limps kind of funny now, and he may have lost some toes, but he’s alive. I think he was pretty messed up when he crashed, and the damage from that certainly shows through today. Luckily, he had a good job at the time, and they wrote him out a big severance/disability/insurance cheque after the accident. He should have been set for life. Should have…
Sadly, that cheque was written right around the time that video lottery terminals were being installed in every bar. Like some, he was hooked. I can remember his brand new pickup spending hours every day in front of the local saloon, him inside with a plate full of food, a cold beer on top of the machine, and a cigarette in his mouth (it was legal then). He had a large collection of Doberman dogs, an old Harley, and lived in a grain bin out at his farm due to a town dog bylaw… Like I said, tragic.
I’m not sure there’s a happy ending here, but there are a few happy facts: First, he still has the same truck, and I believe the Harley. Second, I haven’t seen the dogs in a couple years, but they looked old, so they were likely lost to natural causes. Also, I think he lives in a house again. Third, he’s always happy. Even when nothing is going his way, he’s happy. He laughs until he falls into coughing convulsions. He either says “yes” or “no” when I quote him a price, he never chisels. He could care less how long it takes for an item to show up, as long as he knows that it’s on it’s way. Why do I like people like Junior? Because he’s real. He’s lived life in such a way that it almost killed him twice, and he now knows what it takes to get back up again. He also knows that he can party right to rock bottom, and get back up again at any tim, and dammit I respect that.