NewburyportNews.com, Newburyport, MA

Opinion

April 16, 2013

No filling station for old men

Awed by the stylish design of my employer’s new van, the young attendant leans into the window for a look at the dash as soon as he puts the nozzle into the tank.

I keep nodding and saying “uh-huh,” agreeing that I’m lucky to have so many bells and whistles, some of which I’ll never use or even know what they are.

But he dwells on one — an outlet for ear-pods or headphones — that will allow me to “crank up the tunes and let the miles fly by.”

For this he won’t take a simple yes for an answer. I try deflecting his good-natured prods with self-deprecation:

“I’m too old for that.”

“Don’t you listen to music?”

“Yes, but nothing I want to plug myself into.”

“But this’ll shut out everything else.”

“Such as what? Sirens? Motorcycles? Some other driver or pedestrian needing my attention?”

So exuberant is he over what he considers my new fringe benefit that deadpan jokes are lost on him. I ignore his next few sallies.

Perhaps he recalls my crack about being old when he urges me to imagine Beethoven without the roar of Firestones on 495, the brakes and horns on 128, the bang and clang of loading docks in the North End.

Oh, it’s tempting! Which may be why I finally turn toward him, our faces a foot apart. Still, I hold my tongue until he grins, “Why not?”

“Because I’m better than that.”

He lurches so quickly back that anyone present may think I shoved him. The grin melts into amazement, then protest:

“What? You’re saying that I (expletive) because — “

“Wasn’t about you. Was you kept talking about me.”

When he stands speechless, I can’t help myself:

“What about you? Can you tell me how many justices sit on the Supreme Court?”

Text Only | Photo Reprints

NDN Video
'Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1' Sneak Peek GMA: Dog passes out from excitment to see owner Chapter Two: Designing for Naomi Watts Baseball Hall of Famers Inducted Florida Keys Webcam Captures Turtles Hatching Morgan Freeman Sucks Down Helium on 'Tonight Show' Robin Wright Can Dance! (WATCH) She's Back! See Paris Hilton's New Carl's Jr. Ad Big Weekend For Atlanta Braves In Cooperstown - @TheBuzzeronFox Chapter Two: Becoming a first-time director What's Got Jack Black Freaking Out at Comic-Con? Doctors Remove 232 Teeth From Teen's Mouth Bradley Cooper Explains His Voice in 'Guardians of the Galaxy' Deja vu: Another NYPD officer choke-holding a suspect 'Fifty Shades of Grey': Watch the Super Sexy First Trailer Now! Reports: Ravens RB Ray Rice Suspended For 1st 2 Games Of The Season Air Algerie plane with 119 on board missing over Mali Diamond Stone, Malik Newman, Josh Jackson and others showcase talent Free Arturo - The World's Saddest Polar Bear A Look Back at Batman On Film Through The Years
Special Features
NRA Waterfront Plans