Tuesday, July 05, 2016

Harold and Harv

It would seem that I've made a couple of new friends. It would seem that I won them over with my parallel parking skills.

I met them about two months ago. I was pulling into a parking spot downtown, in front of a place I go every Tuesday. It was a small spot, just barely the size of my car, but I was feeling confident that day. I did all the necessary preliminary maneuvers, but as I shoulder checked, I noticed these two old men sitting on the sidewalk on colourful lawn chairs. My first thought, which feels silly to admit, was that I was worried about having an audience. As though everyone is always watching what I'm doing, as if anyone cares.

A while back, I remember saying to a friend that I sometimes wondered what strangers thought of me when I passed them in public - I mean, I have thoughts about strangers when I pass them, so why wouldn't they think about me too? But she gave me this look of disdain and told me I was full of myself. Maybe I am.

Still, parallel parking is a different beast when you have an audience. It just is. I don't know why; it's not like it reflects badly on your character if you can't back into a parking spot on your first try. It only feels that way. Right?

So anyway, I got super into this parallel park. I accessed my 16 year-old brain and imagined my driver instructor's ghost in the passenger seat (I'm not sure if he's actually dead, but, probably. I mean, he's a driver instructor. He gets into cars with teenagers for a living).

"Don't get worked up over it," said my imaginary ghost driver instructor. "Just line up that thing with that thing. Yeah, like that. Now turn that, yeah, like that. Okay, don't overdo it. Yup. There it is. There it goes. Just slow. Crank it. Go there. Good job."

And before I knew it, I had completed the most perfect parallel park of my life. It was beautiful. I felt my face glowing and resisted the urge to glance over at the old men for approval.

But when I looked over at my ghost instructor, it was my friend instead, and she had that look on her face again. "You're so full of yourself. No one is thinking about you." So true. They probably hadn't noticed. I blinked away all the apparitions and flung open my car door...

...to the sound of uproarious, two-person applause. The two old men were ecstatic. They had probably five teeth between the two of them, and I could see them all. They had a dog too, and even it was impressed.

"That was amazing," crowed one of the men. He had a long white beard and his voice was thin and tinny, like he'd almost used it all up. "You should be a truck driver!"

"Yeah," said the other, the one holding the little dog, "I've never seen anything like it!"

I laughed and carried on my way, basking a little in their adoration. I thought that would be that.

But they were there the next Tuesday too. They had an electric scooter flipped on its side with its wheel off. They were sitting beside it on their lawn chairs, looking at it.

"It's you!" said the bearded man as I exited my car. "Look what I've done here!"

I looked.

"I've gotten a flat tire. Luckily, Harv here can fix anything with wheels."

Harv, the one with the dog, nodded emphatically, but did not move. "I can," he said.

I had Sullivan with me. The bearded man, whose name I would come to find out was Harold, called him over. "Come and see this! I bet you've never seen anything like this before!" Sullivan had not.

They were there the following Tuesday as well. Harv had had knee surgery that week and was in a great deal of pain but was still his chipper self. "Guess what happened today, little lady! This dog ran away!"

"Oh no!" I said, sympathizing. "And you've just had knee surgery so you couldn't chase him!"

"It's okay!" said Harv. "He came back! He only went just right there!" He pointed to a spot a few feet away.

We chatted for a bit, and I went on my way.

They're there every single Tuesday. I know lots of things about them now, about their families and their surgeries and that dog. They live in the apartment building behind their lawn chairs; from what I've gathered, Harv lives on the second floor and Harold lives on the first. They think Sullivan is the coolest and he thinks their dog is the coolest.

Today, as I was putting Sullivan into his car seat, Harold called to me to not drive away until he'd come back, and then he disappeared into his building. When he came back he handed me three small toys - a car and two little action figures. They looked really old. He said, "These are for Sully. Don't let him play with 'em yet, he could choke. But maybe give 'em to him in a year or something."

And I thanked him and he looked so happy to have made me so happy, and to have made Sully happy too, in advance. It was all just really nice.

There's not really an ending to this story. I'll probably see Harold and Harv next week. I just wanted to write it all down because I like it.