A Parade for T


By Thomas Zimmermann l  Nov 4th, 2014 | As seen in Issue 212


At a certain heavy duty repair shop that I’m familiar with works a tall, devastatingly handsome fellow we’ll call “T”.  (He’s big enough that he only needs one letter for a name).  Anyway, this tall, devastatingly handsome fellow we call T also gets charged with training the new apprentices from time to time.  On one particular occasion, T was training a new apprentice that was so green the seed had even sprouted yet, and to hear T tell it, perhaps hadn’t even been planted.  Didn’t know a thing about anything mechanical.  T, having seven children at home, and having learned the fine art of being patient when he was naturally anything but, even had to show R (the rest of his name not revealed to protect his innocence) what a grease nipple was, what it was for, and how to apply grease to it utilizing something known in the industry as a “grease gun”.  (T took a lot of deep, relaxing breaths that day... probably consumed most of the oxygen in the shop, I’d say).  Happily, over time R got better at his new trade, if still painstakingly slow.  R even advanced to the point where T decided to allow him to replace front hub oils on the newer Freightliner they’d brought into the shop for servicing on this fine, late September day.  The air was crisp as the huge bay door was open to allow the truck into the building.
“Okay, so you’re sure you know how to do this, right?” T asked again, hoping the answer would be yes.
“Ummm, yup, I think so.” R reassured him, trying to sound confident, gathering his wits and few tools he owned about him.
“K, the tools are all yours.”  It was almost like Captain Kirk letting the young punk Captain take over control of his precious Enterprise.  My tools, thought T, my signature, thought T, and my neck if anything goes wrong, thought T.  T thought it wise to at least watch from a distance...
T can’t watch anything for long without having to do something.  As he reassured himself that R wouldn’t destroy anything really important for the moment, T looked around for something to do.  He spotted some metal polish on top of his toolbox and decided to start polishing the grille of the Coronado.  Not a big job, T thought, and it’ll probably take the apprentice long enough that he’d get the polishing completed with time to spare.
So, with polish and rag in hand, T set to work, making the hard working Freightliner look at least a little bit better.  Diligently polishing the rows of metal, first applying the paste, rubbing it in until it turned a grey/black colour, then polishing it off to reveal gleaming metal, T was proud of his distraction while monitoring R’s progress.  At least the boy has the cover off.  That only took 30 minutes, he thought.  
As T turned back to his work, Mechanic James walked by, on the way back to his workbay from the welding bay.  
“Gee, T, you must be pretty bored, polishing that thing!”
Did I happen to mention that T is a bit of a joker?  No?
A small smile crept across T’s face as he was leaning into a particularly hard spot to clean.
“Actually, I’m just getting this one ready for the parade.” he replied matter of factly, then let out a long breath, leaning over and taking in the rest of the truck. “Gonna be a long night.” he said as he sighed briefly.  T brightened, “Oh well, if that’s what they want, that’s what they’ll get!” and turned back to the grille.
“Parade?”, James asked, clearly befuddled.
“Yeah, some celebration of something or other downtown.  Wednesday this thing has to be spit polished and in perfect shape.”
Just then, Apprentice CJ came whistling by, stopped to admire the polishing job and asked, “Whatcha doin, T?  Anything I can help with?”  He leaned in to inspect the grille work.  
Before T could respond, Scotty called over from the other side of the shop, “Hey, you missed a spot!”
T, falling into the role now, replied, “Where?  Cause this thing needs to be perfect for the parade on Wednesday!”  T started to inspect the grille, looking for flaws in the polish.
“What parade?” Apprentice  CJ queried, starting to look closer at the truck.
“Oh... some thing the company wants us to get this truck ready for.  Has to be super shiny.  Brand new looking, even.”
Mechanic Mark (MM) joined in the conversation from the next bay.
“Actually, both these trucks need to be done for Wednesday, seeing as they’re brothers #2101 and #2102.  Think we’ll get them done, T?”
CJ was practically frothing at the mouth.  “I’ll help, I’ll help!  These things will look great when I’m done with them!”
“Wait a minute, kid.  This is a huge job.  You gotta be really committed to this, and make sure it’s done beginning to end, right?  You better check with the supervisor before you just jump into it.”
It just so happened that Supervisor J was walking towards the group of assembled mechanics.  Before anyone could stop the lad, CJ called out to J, “Hey, you want me to jump on this thing with T and give him a hand?  He’s got lots of work to do, polishing the tanks, wheels, and anything else that needs fixin’ before the parade.  We might need to get everyone on these trucks now if they’re going to be ready for Wednesday!”
“A what??  Did you say a parade, CJ??”
“Yeah, both these trucks here have to be ready for the parade on Wednesday!  We gotta get goin’, they aren’t going to polish themselves y’know!”  CJ was getting itchy, desperate to start doing something, ANYTHING!  
J thought it over for a moment, then growled, “Now, why didn’t anybody tell me about this?!?  Really!  Two trucks that have to look perfect, and I’m the last to know!  I’m calling the boss!”
Did I mention it was a Sunday night, at about 6pm when this all took place, and just about every other sane person was at home with their families, probably enjoying a nice Sunday night supper?  
T, wise as he is, took the opportunity of temporary distraction to make his was toward the lunch room.   It was a good time to have a snack (just about any time was a good time to snack for T), mull over the possible outcomes, then see what happened.  Kind of like a real life choose-your-own-adventure book, if anyone even remembers what those are.
T didn’t have to do much mulling.  As he was taking a deep drink of water after devouring one of those fake vending machine sandwiches, he heard the unmistakable bellowing of an upset Supervisor J.
“T, get out here, now!”  
T slowly finished his water, then casually sauntered out to the main shop area, where most of the mechanics had now gathered, except for R, still working hard at the front hubs.
“Where did you hear that there was going to be a parade??!?  And who told you it was Wednesday??!”  It appeared the Supervisor was upset, noted T. But then again, T thought, in for a penny...
“What parade?  What are you talking about?” asked T quietly, respectfully, and as innocently as his rusted halo could muster.
“The one that everyone is all up in arms about, the one that is supposed to be one Wednesday, the one that I just phoned the boss about on a Sunday evening and he knows nothing about....”  Realization of what had happened crossed Supervisor J’s face.  “It was you!!!  You started the whole thing, didn’t you?!?”
“Who me?  I would never do anything like that!  It was James’ fault anyway... He was the one asking questions, I just happened to answer in a, ummm, unique and creative way.” T offered.
“Don’t...just, don’t!” Supervisor J stammered as he stomped away, muttering about becoming a Walmart greeter.
The rest of the guys were standing there, giggling at first, then quickly turning into a blue coveralled, gut busting laugh session.  All except CJ, glowering at T.
“What’s wrong, CJ?” T asked between fits of laughter.  
“You made it all up, and I fell for it???”  
T stopped laughing for a moment.  “Yeah, I’m really sorry you got caught up in it, bud.  But you have to admit, it was funny!”
CJ smiled faintly, “Yeah, kinda.  But don’t do that to me again, k?”
T shook the young man’s hand.  “Sure, no problem, kid.”  T calmed down for a moment, and then joined CJ leaving the group.
“Hey, did you hear that they’re going to have a half day with full pay on Friday for employee appreciation day?”
CJ looked at T for a moment, then smiled.  “Really?!”