Finding characters

I love a good story as well as any one and a good character is even better.

So let me tell you about Barney. Just for the record, I have changed his name although he’s passed on now. I worked with him over 20 years ago. I was still trying to get life figured out and he was hanging onto whatever life he had left.

320195_8274White-haired with a big belly and a gruff retort, he was dedicated to his work. And his opinions.

One day, Barney settled into a chair at break time and announced loudly that Major League Baseball games were fixed. “You know that somebody decides who’s going to win every game all season. That’s why I don’t watch baseball. And I can prove it. Ever watched a double header? How often does one team win the first game and the other team win the second? Because the fix was on!”

Um, OK. I leaned forward. “Well, they use different pitchers for each game.”

He snorted. “What the world difference could that make?”

I let him win that one.

Not long after, his opinion gave him another opportunity. Barney had worked in a Ford dealership most of his career and was devoted to Fords. In our shop, we had one Ford delivery pickup and it caused our service guys many problems. It was a chronic lemon. But Barney believed in it because of the Ford thing.

One day he was asked to run some parts to a town about 90 miles away. Barney, of course, opted to drive the Ford. Our service manager told him they’d been having some recent issues with it but Barney squared his shoulders and let his white hair shake back. “It’ll be just fine,” he said.

Our service manager wasn’t going to tangle with that glare.

So Barney and his wife headed out to deliver parts and enjoy an afternoon on the road. Two hours later, our shop got a call from Barney. The Ford had broken down on the road.

The service department guys, once they got done laughing, sent a semi truck and trailer out to haul the Ford home. When the truck returned, we all rushed to the big window to see Barney’s face. Instead, we saw the Ford strapped on the trailer with Barney and his wife still inside the Ford, staring straight ahead.

A little breakdown hadn’t dampened his opinion of Fords one bit.


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