Monday, March 26, 2007

The Good, The Bad, & The Smugly

This evening, during a lull in my Starbucks coffee-drinking, I am thinking of moments when I have been the recipient of Good Samaritanism.
A good deed!
By "Samaritanism" I am referring of course to that parable in Luke ch.10 where the guy from Samaria does a good thing to some other guy. When I was a kid in Sunday school I would hear the story of the Good Man of “Some-Area” and I would wonder why, after all these centuries, they still couldn’t figure out where this guy was from!

Anyhoo… I recall something that happened right here, in this very Starbucks a while back.
I was reading W.G. Sebald’s amazing book, Austerlitz.
In fact, I was asking a nearby stranger [a girl, whom I could see was reading something in French] to translate a phrase for me.
On page 264, Sebald had written, "a travers une breche d'incomprehension."
She looked at the phrase in the book and was stumped.
Then, like a Good Samaritanness, she went to the dictionary section of the store, and came back to me with the following translation, based upon the photo of caged zoo deer that Sebald had presented on the same page... "In the context of what is being said here, the author is suggesting that the caged animals in the zoo look at us as though we too are imprisoned or unable to be free, and they find this hard to comprehend."
And she was cute!
She had me at “In the context…”

But this is not even the Good Samaritan part yet!
While this was going on, while I was having this cross-cultural experience with her, someone was smashing into my car in the parking lot.
And taking off!
Of course, there in the warmth of the coccoon-like store, and smitten as I was, I was utterly oblivious to the havoc outside.
But when I went to leave, well… I saw that the rear half of my car was smushed in!
And on my windshield, under the wiper, two pieces of paper fluttering...

One note said:
“I am sorry. I seem to have hit your car. Here is my phone number. -------“
SEEM?” What does "seem" mean?
The other note said:
“I saw this person hit your car and leave. I chased them and made them come back. Here is my phone number. --------“
The Good Samaritan.

So I called the second number first.
Talked with this guy.
He told me that he saw this woman back her big black 4X4 right into my innocent white Oldsmobile.
She lifted it right off the ground, and then she took off.
He had just been leaving the parking lot himself at the time, so he chased her a few blocks, flicking his lights on and off until she finally stopped. Obviously, she realized that her license plate number would have long since been written down!
The gig was up!
She returned to the scene and he made sure she left the information on my windshield.
He then got my license number paged over the PA system inside the store.
But I was so engrossed in my… French-translation class… that I did not at all hear the announcement. [I learned all this when I talked to the guy on the phone.]
Next, I phoned the girl… The Ungood Smasharian!

I explained to her that she had two options.
Either, a) I would require all of her insurance information so that I could get my car fixed at her expense [whereupon her rates would skyrocket and her driving record be tarnished] ORb) she could pay me a fixed amount of cash to compensate for the loss of resale value to my car and, in turn, I would not phone the police and tell them of her methods of umm… ACCIDENT REPORTAGE!
She chose option B, as I knew she would.
[Really, I had plans to get rid of my car soon anyways.]

She then asked, “Would it be OK if you picked up the cash where I work?”
I said, “Sure. No problem. Where do you work?”
She named one of the more famous Strip Clubs in town.
Hello!

I said, “Umm. OK. I guess I could endure such a predicament.”
She was a waitress there, not one of the [ahem…] “ballerinas”!

So, next night, there I was.
Music pounding, the Maestro at the door, [folded arms the size of ditch culverts] he stops me and says I need to pay a cover charge.
I scream at him over the blaring music…. “I WILL BE QUICK… JUST NEED TO SEE THIS GIRL. WAITRESS!” and I show him her name on my piece of paper.

His eyebrows raise, and he points in the general direction of somewhere.
Before I had time to adjust to the flourescent lighting some girl in a Budweiser bathing suit was asking me if I want to... get to know her better, or something, and again, I displayed the piece of paper and screamed stuff.
She nodded and went to get the girl.
[Did I watch that Beerbottle walk away from me? What do you think?]

From behind the bar The Ungood Smasharian© walks up to me, all cleavage and teeth.
She’s got an envelope in her hand and she opens it and begins to count out on the table more twenty dollar bills than I have ever seen in one place in my lifetime!
Lots of people are watching me now.
People that don’t even have eyebrows are raising them! And every guy in the place is wondering if he should worship me or mug me!
I mean, this is not the usual direction of such transactions in these places… female to male.
[At least this is what I am told!]

We both then signed dual copies of the pre-written contract we had agreed upon, over the phone.
It succinctly stated that with this monetary payoff we were severing all future legal relationship with each other.
It was like a real quick divorce, but where you are already in the Strip Club directly afterward, without having to get in the car and drive there!

There was a certain aura about me now.
I almost wanted to sort of bask in it and stay for a little drinkskie-poo, but no. I turned and left.
And as I walked past the Maestro, I could see a newfound respect in his eyes… yes, by God, there it is. A glint.
For I had just become a legend in those few short minutes.
The only man that ever walked out of that establishment with more twenties in his pocket than he had when he arrived!

***********

8 comments:

patricia said...

Ha ha ha! Only you, you lucky bugger!

You realize, of course, that there is a moral somewhere in this story about how women have some sort of intriguing power over you? First the enticing French translator, and then the shmashing stripper, who though forced to payout, did cause the shmash-up in the first place!

cipriano said...

Oh, but let's keep things in perspective here, darling.
The gal who smashed into my car was NOT a stripper. She was a waitress.

When it comes to strippers now... I assure you, the events of this blog article have absolutely NOTHING to do with the fact that I've been a Budweiser© drinker ever since!

May said...

Whether the story is true or not [I find it difficult to believe that wonderful and unexpected events can actually take place], I had a great time reading your story. THANK YOU!

cipriano said...

May, the story does sound contrived, I know. Like a cheesy western! All I am missing is the soundtrack, laced with constant whistling and muted trumpets!

But amazingly, it is absolutely true in its every facet, except that looking back, I think it wasn't the very next day, but two or more evenings later that I went to the "ballet" to collect my dough!

Everyone's life contains the same sort of stories, every DAY... but very few people write about them.
And if they were written, they would seem fanciful.
That is my opinion.

Amanda said...

That sounds like something that happens in the movies!! Fantastic experience I'm sure!

Beth said...

Paid off - by a stripper. Didn't you pause and wonder where those twenties had been???

Beth said...

Me again.
Okay, I re-read your post. She was a waitress, not a stripper. But still, those twenties probably got passed around a fair bit in that place. Yuck.

cipriano said...

You're right Beth.
You make me want to go and exfoliate myself with my new hyper-expensive Dead-Sea Salt Scrub© !

Amanda.
Nice to meet you.
If my life were a movie, it would star Woody Allen [as me] and be called, The Good, The Bad, & The Spazzy!