29 April 2005

The Pit

Kids do strange things.
Sometimes kids do strange things just because they are strange.
When I was still trying to control pimples on my face, I went through a phase where I thought being an auto mechanic might just be the greatest job on earth! I loved cars, so what better way to be around automobiles and learn what makes them tick than take a job at the local garage/filling station?
The garage where I worked was old. It had been in existence so long, a layer of grease and dirt at least half an inch thick had built up on the concrete floor in the shop! This facility was built before the advent of hydraulic lifts. To facilitate oil changes, lubrication work, and other under car services, there was a "grease pit" dug in the floor just wide enough that a car could straddle it. It was about four feet in depth, and a ladder at one end allowed you to climb down for access to the underside of the car.
When we had a lot of rain, this pit would fill with about 4 inches of water.

I grew up in a pretty rural area........not a lot of things for teenagers to do. This garage became a meeting place for my friends. One night, after a really rainy stretch, I was standing with four of my friends, Willie, Bob, Kenny, and Tom, looking down into the standing water in the pit. Willie had hands in pockets, jingling his change. He drew his hand out, counted the change, and said "Greybeard, I'll give you 59 cents if you jump into the pit!"
I was wearing clothing my boss called a uniform.......oil stained, holed with battery acid and then patched. No skin off my nose! Into the pit I jumped!
As I climbed the stairs, Willie forked over the 59 cents with a grin.
I had change too, and pulled it out of my pocket.......37 cents. Adding my change to Willie's I turned to Bob and said, "Is it worth 96 cents to jump?" Bob wasn't in a ratty old uniform, so it surprised me when he took the plunge! He climbed the steps and I forked over the coins.
Bob shook his pocket, pulled out his change. He then turned to Tom and said, "Will ya do it for $1.26?" SPLASH! Tom was $1.26 richer. Tom to Ken......another 40 cents in the kitty. Now the only one without wet trousers is Willie, the instigator. But Ken added 80 whole cents (!) to the pot, and Willie couldn't resist!
Up to this point, it somehow seemed to make sense.
Willie counts the cash, removes his original investment, turns to me and says, "I'll give you $1.87 to do it again!" I'm already soaked, so what the heck? In I go!
I took out my 47 cents, counted the rest and said, "Bob......there's $1.40 in it for ya to jump!" Then Tom, then Kenny.......
At the end of this wonderful exercise, we were all grinning, soaked to the waist, and pleased with how silly we were. We all had the same riches we started with. And we all had a story to relate about what it was like to be an adolescent male in rural America in the mid 1960's.


denicave said...

You seem to keep the same hours as a menopausal woman :p)

k said...

I've never wanted to be an adolescent male so much... :)