April 11, 2009

Afternoon tea at Sprayberry's


Being that life all too often tosses you a class A style pig f**king when you are least expecting it, it seems appropriate that my Saturday pigbuggery should end up with a pleasant experience at a barbecue joint.

The day began with the typical randomness of any given weekend.. Everybody headed in different directions... Julie was off to throw a baby shower for a coworker and Patrick was excited about the prospect of seeing the movie Watchmen with the nerd patrol from school... I hadn't put any real thought into what I wanted to do, so I tried to call my brother to see if he would be up for lunch... As usual, he didn't answer.. so I decided to opt for a nice nap then finishing up a couple of walking sticks I have been working on.

I may have been asleep for about an hour when Patrick woke me with excited noises about his mom... delivered in his usual Napoleon Dynamite tones... "Dad, dad, dad, dad.... Mom left to go to the shower and took James with her and they are up at Matt's house 'cause the tire on the car went flat and she didn't do anything to it, it just went flat and she doesn't know what to do and she needs our help because she is supposed to be at the shower already and she needs your help.. Dad, dad, dad, dad, dad..."

Always a great way to be awakened... My first thought was who in the shit is "Matt"? As my head cleared a bit I began to remember who Matt is, and where he lives. Then I began to wonder what happened to the tire as the set on the car is only about six or seven months old... so off I went on the Kawasaki mule, bed hair and all, to see what had transpired.. Matt is the guy married to Sissy, David's little sister.. they live just up the road in case you didn't know...

When I arrived on the scene, Matt's kids were trying to put air in the front drivers side tire on the car and it wasn't holding any at all.. Being a slovenly excuse for a real man, I didn't even know whether or not I had a jack in the car... I knew I had a spare, under the car on the back... Yet I had no idea how to go about getting it out... But Matt pulled up and began dismantling everything in sight with the sure hand of a pit crew foreman.. He looked at the tire, once off the car and determined that it wasn't repairable. The tire was gouged on the inside side wall, by the shape of the rip I knew what had caused it.. There is a jagged piece of metal on an exposed portion of pipe in our driveway that mysteriously matches the shape and size of the damaged area... I guess that mental note I've been making to fix it is a bit useless at this point.. Chalk another one up for the useless handy man...

After the spare was put on and the offending tire was placed in the back of the car I headed toward home to attempt to find a place that was both open and had that size tire in stock. Julie had been picked up and was at the party... Several phone calls later... the only place in town that fit both needs was .. oh dear god.. walmart.. home of the demons...

I called Julie at the shower and told her where I was headed to, being that she knows my fear of the place she offered to take it up there after the party... "No, I must do this... I have the power to beat the walmart..."

So I showered, and headed out... The closer I got to the dread retail chasm of horrors the more desperate I became. I had never been to the auto center and wasn't really sure what to do. I made my way around the building a few times and scoped it all out. Looked simple enough... So I parked... and went inside... sweet Jesus... You must never break protocol with the walmart, it throws a mind f**k on the employees and the entire machine grinds to a halt as they reach for the speaker phone to summon another demon with more knowledge of the ways, means and machinations of the evil overlords hidden behind the mirrors and cameras, not to mention the glares of hatred you receive from the polyester covered patrons that know the place better than their own showers...

As usual, the moment I stepped through the door all the air in my lungs was sucked right out and the demons began popping up from behind all the merchandise with gleeful stares... "Ha! I told you that you would return... infidel... your soul belongs to us..." I took a few deep breaths and waited my turn at the counter, behind the guy that was arguing with the clerk about a warranty issue on his car work... After he had finally become aware that the walmart never loses it was my turn... I stepped to the counter and uncorked my voice at the clerk, it's a hard thing to do... talking within the walmart... there is just no air in the place to breathe in... "icalledaboutatireearlier andnowiamheretohavesaid tireputonmycarplease"... There, I had gotten it out... Whew.. and all in one sacred breath...

Then the most feared thing that one can hear within the belly of the beast was tossed back at me... "Huh, what wasat?" Dammit all to hell... So I took a deep breath and spat it all out again... She managed to get it that time and then asked me what size tire and called the little guy in from the service area to help me.. as we walked around to the car I became aware that every available working station within the auto care center was full of automobiles. So I cocked an eye toward the little guy with the clip board.. "How long do you think this might take?" He scratched his head, looked around at all the cars in the prone position and then at the ones behind them waiting their turns then glanced over to the two employees that were looking at naked milf pictures on a cell phone in the corner of the shop and threw back, "Two and half - three hours" Mother of god.. "Can I just buy the tire and escape.. I mean leave?" "Yeah... if yont to..." So I took the tire, paid the money and ran like hell... The demons were gathered at the windows as usual, watching my departure... With each yard farther away from the place I got, my heart unclenched a bit more and breathing returned to normal... those places are the harbinger of doom to every community they take seed in.. one day we shall arise and slay them, taking back our souls and returning small town America to normalcy...

Now I was faced with finding a place to put the tire on. I slowed down and thought about it and decided to try Parker's BP station on Jackson street. I knew they were open on Saturdays so I figured why not... I pulled into the place and was greeted as I exited my car by the guys that work there, they were nice and polite and extremely helpful, small business, that's where all the BS about customer service has been hiding... They took the car and began to replace the spare with the new tire, all without attitude or excuses as to why it couldn't be done, crazy.

While waiting on the car my nose was being filled with the smells of barbecue, floating in from across the street at Sprayberry's... The longer I stood there the more it bothered me and the hungrier I got... I had been texting a friend of mine during the tire ordeal and sent him a msg that he should meet me and have a bbq sandwich... He had already eaten but said that he could meet me and drink a sweet tea...

I paid the guy at Parker's for the work, drove over to Sprayberry's and walked inside without thinking about it at all, I had of course, been there many times in my life, but it had been a long time.. Once inside I was transported back to the days of being little and going there with my dad so he could grab a pork sandwich and bowl of stew. The place opened in 1926 and is still going strong today, when we were kids my parents often stopped in there, or the place across the street, Duncan's, to pick up dinner... Duncan's barbecue closed down many years ago.. The pure bullshit of the day washed away as I was waited on by extremely nice people and looked over the menu.. The other guy arrived and I offered to get him a sandwich, but he's watching his diet.... (read, chasing a new woman) He ordered a sweet tea as my sandwich and stew arrived.. then we set about talking... We sat there for a long while and discussed all the latest goings on and scuttlebutt that was deemed to be newsworthy...

The decor inside the place is exactly the same as it was when I was a child and the longer I stayed there the more relaxed I became. After a while of gossip and pure BS'ing we headed out to the parking lot and stood around for a while longer, looking, talking and pointing at things the way guys do.

As I drove away I thought about the day and wondered where it all went sideways... When we decided that its better to spend our time running to and fro doing all sorts of nothing and began to shun the pure enjoyment of conversation and porch settin'... Thanks to the folks at Sprayberry's and Parker's for reminding me that small town people still exist, and to Rob for passing a couple of hours with me this afternoon, sometimes it's good to just be normal and enjoy the long dead art of face to face communication...

5 comments:

The Angry Georgian said...

This is the original Sprayberry's location, I presume? I'm only privy to the one off of 85. I like to stop there from time to time on my way to Alabama and load up the cooler.
I love walmart. Don't hold it against me.

Rob Cole - eyesupward said...

It was the original.. and as a local, and .."the guy watching his weight..(chasing said, girl)", you're right, Clay.. thanks for including me in your day, more importantly, for the conversation. As I know we both agree, there is nothing more sacred than 'sittin' n talkin'... As I continue to rediscover and emerge from my 16 year pitstop, I appreciate more and more the days like Saturday... on a side note, check the back row of your car.. I swear I saw a pair of walmart demon eyes peering at me as you drove away....

Yvonne Baker said...

My dad being a mechanic, I am able to change a tire as well as other things and I love the guy's at Parker's.

I don't think I've been to Sprayberry's since I was 18! (Neither location)

Tell Rob good luck with the girl.

Love the Easter pics, the black and white of the kids are great.

Junebug said...

As much as I like Walmart I don't think I would like to spend 3 hours there waiting on a tire.
The day turned out good for you,hectic but good.You got the tire,had it put on even had lunch with a good buddy.
i remeber Rob when he came to our house with you and Julie.Nice guy.

ucmama said...

Once again, a beautiful post. I miss Sprayberry's...