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A true story

May 21, 2014
By Larry DeHays , Fort Myers Beach Bulletin, Fort Myers Beach Observer

The following story is true. Well, some of it is true. It's a story about what goes on in the back room of an automotive service center, where the public isn't allowed. The names of the people have been changed to protect the innocent. Even though they're all guilty. Everybody is guilty of something, any cop will tell you that, it's just that some people haven't been caught yet.

To protect the undeserving innocents we will use numbers instead of names. Each of our technicians has a number for identification in our computerized record system. It will take a warrant, or an NSA wiretap to get that information. Here's what goes down around this place in the back room, out of the public's eye.

I eat lunch regularly in local restaurants. Many times the meal served is larger than I want to eat in one sitting, so I get a take-out box and bring it back to the shop and put it in our refrigerator, right alongside the various cultures, petri dishes or whatever other lab experiments are assembled therein. My work-mates have the culinary sanitation of a pack of gerbils. There's some petrified mustard in there from 1936. I figure it will be ok to leave my superior food near their disgusting dishes for a few hours, until I can take it home. There is a fly in that ointment, as well as on the food. It's my memory. I have a great memory. It's just short. Either that, or it's full; take your pick.

So what happens is, I sometimes forget to take it home. Sometimes I remember and come right back for it, sometimes it's the next day. Doesn't matter. It's gone. One of the Numbered People has eaten my lunch.

Number One takes pity on me and tries to remind me every day, even when I don't have anything stored. He's never guilty because he's the pickiest eater in the world. He only eats food he prepares himself at home, and only eats while sharing a table with his dogs. Sometimes Number Three admits guilt. "You left it there overnight. How long is 'long enough' to make it fair game?" Sometimes it's the Un-numbered Person. I can't tell you who that is, to protect her identity, but one time, when I had really raised a stink about it, she brought the remnants to my home that evening, as a peace offering. Once I foiled a plot where Number Four was going to eat it and leave the empty wrapper in Number Three's tool box for me to find. I shudder to think how that would have played out. Number Three's protestation of innocence would be interesting, because he is always blamed for almost everything, because everything is usually his fault.

Then there's the times I do remember to take it home. I put it in our fridge at home, and then when I go to get it, it's gone. My wife takes it to work for her lunch. You might think a solution would be to eat it myself, at work, before going home. The problem with that is: I would have to heat it up before eating it. We have a microwave. You know how some old caves have stalactites stuck to the ceiling? Well our microwave has spaghetti stalactites stuck to its' roof. I don't worry about germs, because they're nuked each time it's used, making them sterile germs, but I'm afraid one of those spaghetti stalactites might fall into my food, and it would poke me in the mouth like a needle. You try telling the emergency room nurse, "I godda spagatta shalagdite schtuck ih ma moush!" and see what happens. I'm not doing it.

So if, when you bring your car in, I look a little wan, a little emaciated, you'll know I'm starving. If you also notice one or more or our staff seeming hale and hearty, well, you be the judge. I already know they're guilty. Some of them just haven't been caught. Yet.



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