The Son of the Father

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.

How Can You Afford That Rock-N-Roll Lifestyle?

As I sit here at my desk, half asleep after my second hour of unpaid overtime, I start to think.  I love hot rodding, but do I really love it enough to keep on doing what I do to fund it?  Not necessarily.  Don’t lose your mind, I haven’t quit yet.  As a matter of fact, I don’t ever plan on it, I just have to change it up a bit.

It’s funny how much cool shit I’ve walked away from in order to do what I do.  In the mid-2000’s, I was going to work on a cruise ship.  It was something like four months on and a month off or something odd like that.  All I owned was the Corvette at that time, and Fast Orange as a beater.  Rather than go on an adventure, I built Fast Orange.  It’s been a great truck, honestly, and I don’t regret building it in the least.  Actually, shortly after it was finished, I moved to Moose Jaw.  I do regret that.

Around that cruise ship time, I also planned on moving to the Okanagan in BC.  That one I would have actually gone through with, but at that point in time there were no jobs there.  I think construction is kind of booming in Kelowna right now, but it’s likely not far from a bust once again, as they don’t have the population to sustain constant building.  I was actually offered a job in BC at that time, but Revelstoke isn’t exactly the hotbed of hot rodding…  Easy pass.

As I sit here today, at the same desk I’ve sat at since 2010 or something like that, I realize it’s time for a change of venue.  You see, I only live here for the shop space.  It’s not actually “my” shop, but rather a work building that I occupy 900sqft of.  The agreement has always been that I get paid $11.00 an hour, and get the space for free.  Lately, the space has been getting smaller and smaller, and minimum wage has bumped up almost to my agreed wage.  What used to be decent money is now an entry-level wage, and what used to be 900sqft is now about 500sqft.  Bodywork used to be okay, but the powers that be are now getting tired of the dust.  Sounds like a lot of problems, hey?  Don’t worry, I have a solution.

Winnipeg!  I know what you’re thinking…  Making Winnipeg the goal this early in the game is like making the fat girl at the bar the goal at 9:00pm, but hear me out.  Regina and Saskatoon are expensive.  For someone like myself, unskilled and uneducated, I could never afford to live there on my own, let alone continue building cars.  Winnipeg is expensive, too, don’t get me wrong, but it’s set up far better for a guy like me.  I’ve been watching their news very close lately, and Winnipeg has a laundry list of social problems.  I won’t get into the problems in detail, but they also have a laundry list of social programs.  This is where I come in, a capitalist neck-deep in social problems.

If I wanted to move to Regina or Saskatoon, I’d have to go on welfare, and get put into public housing.  I just simply couldn’t afford to pay the rent on minimum wage.  Sounds ridiculous, but it’s the reality.  Winnipeg, at three times the size, has reached a “critical mass” of sorts, where it is self-supporting.  They have programs for fuck-ups such as myself that offer a hand up, not just a hand out.  Why wouldn’t a guy like me take them up on an offer like that?

Can you imagine this blog once I’m in Winnipeg?  If you thought that city was dirty before, just wait until I’m there…  I still have to get the Money Shot into paint and the fuck out of that borrowed shop space full of misery, and also have to figure out the laws involving old vehicles.  I know they’re tougher on pre-war stuff, but really, I’ve never been pre-war.  I’m hardly post-war.  In fact, I’m more disco/new wave, like Blondie.  If all else fails, I can soon sell a bunch of stuff, and replace it with a no-safety-necessary Manitoba beater.  It’s been a long time since I’ve had a fun beater…

Nothing…

Not a god damned thing!  Nobody got laid, not a single photo was taken, and nothing eventful happened.  Our usual spot mixed the drinks too strong for us to keep our eyes on the prize, a cougar’s friends ruined the night of two people, and we couldn’t get 3:00am pizza.  Stay tuned, it’s time for a change of venue and wardrobe for everyone involved.  I promise you this, it will be awesome.  Or it won’t.  I’ve been wrong before.

Oh, there was a car show and roller derby that day as well.  Everything was happening, yet nothing happened.  Go figure.