Dumped From The Cockpit

Opposite Manual High at the intersection of Pleasant Run and Madison Avenue, there is a car-rental place, which I think opens a few minutes before I come through on my morning commute. This morning I hit the light, and it's a long light if you're turning onto Madison.


The fluorescent interior of the sales office glowed brightly into the overcast morning, and the manager inside explained the rental agreement to their only customer, who I couldn't see from where I sat. The manager jabbered on in his black tie and white, short-sleeved dress shirt, every so often pointing down to the paper and looking up at the obscured customer, prompting with his eyes to make sure he or she understood about overage miles and damage fees and so forth. The sign for the office, fastened to the wall behind him, matched the sign on top of the building, which floated over his head like a thought bubble. "Enterprise!" his mind repeated throughout the transaction.

Adjoining the office was the garage, where the cars are washed and maintained and, no doubt, repaired once in a while. The mechanic stood inside the dark bay. I didn't notice him at first - with his grease-stained coveralls and hair, he matched his surroundings perfectly. He leaned against the garage door track, smoking.

I couldn't help but imagine what the two men were thinking as I sat there, glancing up every so often to make sure the light hasn't changed. The mechanic seemed to be bracing for the day, enjoying his cigarette in the morning lull before the cars come back in. I couldn't tell if he was looking out at me or at the trees along the little river behind me, but I watched him intently and forgot myself for several seconds.

Meanwhile the manager continued, smiling and bowing slightly and placing the keys in the palm of what I imagined was some tired businessman, getting ready for a long drive on a Tuesday.

I looked upward one more time, and sure enough, the light changed.


As I drove on I thought about the three people at Enterprise, the two I could see and the one I couldn't, and thought about which one was most like me. I ruefully admitted to myself that, while I'd like to be the mechanic who's too cool for the job, I'm really more of a white-collar dweeb, evidenced by the fact that I'm typing this here at my desk now. I *can* change my own oil, though.

Then, as the caffeine really started to take effect, I thought about what I was thinking about, and how I couldn't stop. I thought about impulsive self-identification, and observation, and how it's a good thing my commute isn't longer. In just that short space, every day, I find my thoughts turning into an air show, and I'm flying along in the pilot's seat and then suddenly down on the ground, watching my mind loop and twirl up in the sky.

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