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Draplin Design Co., North America
February 05, 2003
That Man Made My day
Posted at 09:47 PM

I made a new friend today, and may have picked up a new client in the process.

See, Big S has been acting up a bit in the last couple months, in the “exhaust department,” concerning some “burning of oil.” The smell was there, as was some conspicuously thick fumes when idling. He’s still a baby for Chrissake, weighing in at a healthy 37,000 miles. Well, maybe a “teenager” as far as a good rig’s life might go. I was concerned and made a pact with myself to get him into the service center as soon as possible. I got up real early, while the rest of the city slept in warm beds, and made my way out into the Eastern P-Town ‘burbs towards the car dealerships.

Everything was going as planned. I dropped him off and was instructed to wait in the “pickup area” for the shuttle van. The dealership offers complimentary rides to work and such while yer rig is getting tuned/patched up. Good.

I’m approached by a stout, older, smiling black man with a pile of keys in his hand, “You ready? Ha-ha. I sure am!”

Now, the world offers many jobs to a hard workin’ man. Some guys make a livin’ cooking. Some guys don’t do a damn thing and live off the system. Some guys are in the graphic arts. Some guys drive complimentary shuttles. In my experience, those who partake in the latter usually come off as bothered, cold and inattentive.

I’m here to to tell you, that every now and again, a man comes along who breaks this mold.

This man is named Bill Sweeney.

Bill Sweeney is 62 years old. I’ve got a hankering he’s got another 62 in ‘em too. He was born in the South, growing up in Nashville where he “…swept the bar down the street each morning for 35 cents. And hey man, I remember wanting to buy just one cold beer in that place. Ha!” He joined the service in 1957 and it pulled him out West where he fell in love with Portland. “I’ve been here ever since.” he added. Bill worked for years out at Tektronix, but for the last eight years has held down the shuttle driver position at Rey Rees Volkswagen. Bill has a good sense of humor and loves to laugh.

Let’s just say this much. We got to be close friends in that stretch of some 120 blocks. He dropped me off at Cinco and we parted with a firm handshake.

A couple hours later I get a call from the dealer. Thumbs up, everything was cool with Big S. Good. Much relief. He said he’d track Bill down and let him know I needed a lift back out to the dealership. Not 20 minutes later I get a call and it’s Bill, “Heyyyyyyy Aaron! I’m on the corner of 11th and Market! Where you at boy?” I grabbed my jacket, ran outside and there he was.

I took him out to lunch, the least I could do for such amazing service. We talked about meals, family and his famous “ Mr. B’s Premium Barbeque Sauce.” I offered to design him up a label, complete with a exclusive photo shoot. He loved the idea. Collaborations are in the works.

- - - -

Wisdom, shared with me, and some sad-sapped patron in the back seat who needed a ride to Vancouver:

“I wake up each day and thank the big guy for my breath.”
“I don’t like these folks who are stuck up. I like the ones who will talk with me.”
“Look at that! A ’62 Comet! Like a spaceship! Ha!”
“Mmmm! A man has got to love good eatin’.”
“I don’t like these folks who drive all crazy. You can’t trust ‘em.”

There Are 2 Comments

Does my old heart good to read of the good samaritan son……he appreciates all who walk the earth and absorbs their stories….

I raised you to be charitable, tolerant and aware of the world……

got to get back to the sofa, where is my vodka and cigarettes; missing you……

Posted by: yo' momma on 02/06/03 at 11:24 AM

This story illustrates exactly why when a Draplin makes a friend, it is for life.

Posted by: Cam on 02/07/03 at 5:16 PM