Jap Tech, that is where I have the privilege of servicing my 2005 Civic on yet another tropical day in South Florida.
I walk into their climate-controlled office, and Orlando greets me. He’s familiar with my face. I don’t give him a chance to remember my name. As I roller coaster my key around the ring, he asks if my address has changed.
For the first time in three years I nod. Tell him the new address. So far he is the only person who knows that I have moved. Not even the post office knows, nor will they ever.
I don’t like making my moves public. I especially don’t like telling organizations that I’ve moved, but with Jap Tech it’s different. Their Christmas cards warm my mantle.
Orlando takes my key and I tell him that the driver’s headlight has perished after so many miles of lighting my way. I pull the appropriate bulb out of a bag. He notices that my fingers are grimy, like a mechanic’s. My head hangs itself in shame.
-I tried doing it on my own, Orlando, but couldn’t.
-Hey, it happens.
-I got the slave cylinder out of the way and tried to pull down the yellow clip. Like the manual said. But I just couldn’t get leverage.
-I understand. It’s all about getting the right angle. Sometimes you have to turn the tire and get in through the bottom.
Orlando smiles at his tip and creates his own moment of awkward silence. A friendly moment meant to convey sympathy and alleviation.
-We’ll take care of it.
I take a seat in the waiting area. There is a flat screen tv playing the news. Something about Michelle Obama wearing shorts. I shake my head and stop listening and open a paperback scattered among the trashy magazines. Anthem.
All my life I’ve made a point to stay away from Ayn Rand not really knowing why. I’ve only heard bad things about her objectivism, and her tomes are, from what I hear, a giant waste of time.
I thumb through the pages. Towards the end I notice an underlined passage. I look up at the tv in preparation for some Ayn Rand. The newscasters are laughing at this:
The jolliest of the bunch says, “Quite the modest proposal if you ask me.” The skinny meteorologist with terrible posture sees his opportunity to prove his knowledge, “It would help with the population problem.” And like this the pun wagon begins to roll:
-Let’s not be too Swift in such a decision.
-But I’m satired of eating the same thing everyday.
-Only Yahoos would do such a thing.
I chuckle at the rollicking commentary. Then I look at the baby in lobster suit and have a strong thirst to drink Jap Tech’s filtered water. I thank Orlando for the courtesy and sit back down to read the underlined passage in Anthem:
I am neither foe nor friend to my brothers, but such as each of them shall deserve of me. And to earn my love, my brothers must do more than to have been born. I do not grant my love without reason, nor to any chance passer-by who may wish to claim it. I honor men with my love. But honor is a thing to be earned.
Cold and incompassionate. Heartless and unconcerned. The exact opposite of Jap Tech. Such is Ayn Rand’s writing.
I return the paperback to the stash of trashy magazines and wait for Orlando to call my name. To pass the time until then, I study the shelf of Honda and Acura parts and take note of the prolific use of labels in Jap Tech’s office.
I love labels.