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The Eclectic Pen - Customer Service

By: Tom C. (Tommy)   + 8 more  
Date Submitted: 1/19/2007
Genre: Biographies & Memoirs » Memoirs
Words: 1,005


A sunny Saturday afternoon in July. It was my Saturday to work. The morning rush of contractors, handymen, and homeowners was long since over. There was still a bustle of activity in the adjacent lighting showroom as couples building homes argued over the merits of Strauss crystal versus solid brass Williamsburgs. They were tended to by the showroom staff who guided them through the process with their clipboards and order forms checking off rooms as the selections were made. Rarely did anyone venture through the archway into the supply counter area except maybe an occasional husband seeking refuge from the chaos. I had settled in for what promised to be a boring couple of hours till closing time. There were no windows in that part of the building, but from the North end of the counter, looking through the archway, past the cashier, I could just see a sliver of daylight through the glass doors to the parking lot. As I sat watching the dust float in the sunbeam that poured through the doors, they were suddenly opened by a young woman carrying a length of pipe. She headed straight for the counter, and she looked distressed.

Employment in an electrical supply house doesn't usually afford one many opportunities to rescue damsels in distress. Dragons are in very short supply these days and although there was a mill next door, the boys who ran it were very pleasant and to my knowledge had never tied a maiden to their buzz saw. Nonetheless, this young woman obviously had a problem and I was just the guy to fix it. "How can I help you?" I asked noticing that for some reason she wasn't wearing very much. Indeed, she appeared to have on nothing more than a man's shirt and a pair of sandals.

"My mast is broken" she said "and the marina doesn't have any parts. I thought you might have something here I could use."

"Uh, mast? Marina?" I stammered. By now I had determined she was wearing a green bikini beneath her shirt which was partially buttoned with the tails tied peasant style at the bottom.

"You know, for my sailboat." she said as she raised the length of pipe up to eye level. I reluctantly focused on the piece of tubing. It appeared to be aluminum, maybe four feet long, and about an inch and a quarter in diameter. It was kinked at one end as if it had been bent double and broken off. We were at least 15 miles from the nearest lake and to this day I have no idea how she came to be at my counter with a broken mast, but it didn't matter. I was on a mission. We had plenty of pipe, ten foot pieces of electrical conduit, in various diameters. None of it was aluminum, and it wasn't really suitable for marine applications, but as a temporary fix, it just might work.

I went to the pipe rack and grabbed a piece of 1" thinwall (too small), a piece of 1-1/4"(too big) and an assortment of couplings, connectors, bushings and other fittings. Nothing would fit. She told me there was another piece still on the boat that this would have to mate with. "Look here." I said as I tried to fit the various combinations together. As she leaned close across the counter her shirt fell away revealing the bright green bikini top. The afternoon sun streamed through the thin cotton and gave her an incredible glow almost as if she were lit from within. I caught the delicate scent of coconut oil (a true aphrodisiac if there ever was one). My pulse quickened and I found it difficult to speak. At moments like this my life has a soundtrack and just then the Beach boys began to sing "California Girls" Her long blond hair was pulled into a ponytail and was still damp from the lake. She wore no makeup. Her skin was tanned and perfect. The reality of the showroom began to fade. There was no one else, just us.

"None of these will fit and still mate with the mast on the boat" I said. I was desperate. If I didn't think of something fast, she would leave. "You need. um...aluminum....Somebody ...You know, regular tubing.....There must be a dealer, umm. Wait! Phone book! We'll find somebody." I still couldn't talk, and I was dropping things. We opened the book and looked together. Bits of sand fell to the pages from her forearm. I could feel her warm sweet breath on my cheek. Her long, brown fingers bore no rings. I would find a mast. We would go together to get it. I'd fix the boat. We would sail together into the night. We would fall in love and she would bear my children. It was four O'clock Saturday afternoon. There were no tubing dealers open. We would not find a mast.

"Oh well, it's getting late anyway." she said. "You've been sweet to try and help" She touched my hand and she was gone.

After I put the pipe and fittings away, I sat on my stool at the North end of the counter and watched the dust play on the sunbeams. There was no sign that she had ever been here. Had I just dreamed it? It seemed like only minutes before it was three O'clock and now it was five and time to go home. Could it all have been just a daydream? As I reached for my keys and my hand brushed against the catalog rack , I saw a few grains of sand fall to the counter.


The Eclectic Pen » All Stories by Tom C. (Tommy)

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Comments 1 to 3 of 3
Dana S. - 1/19/2007 9:08 AM ET
Thanks for taking me on a wonderful vasation from the everyday. Lovely piece.
IONE L. (zaneygraylady) - 1/19/2007 4:12 PM ET
You tell a good story
Veronica N. (VeronicaNagy) - 1/23/2007 2:41 PM ET
Very cute and very manly and very well written, I enjoyed reading it. I hope I have as much customer service. Thanks for writing and for sharing.
Comments 1 to 3 of 3