By Larry Teren
What do a Seikh, a watchmaker and an insultant have in common? Not much except that the three of us were hanging around shooting the breeze at the watch repair place a block from my condo. I’m sure you’ve seen the store- the watchmaker has a big sign on his car that reads WATCH REPAIR to encourage those who get off the expressway a block away to think about putting a new battery in a watch that long ago stopped working.
Which was exactly the reason I dropped in at the watch repair shop. Ma gave me one of her fancy looking timepieces and said that it had stopped working and thought that the aforementioned watch repair guy had put in a battery only a couple of months earlier. I thought the same. So my buddy Alex looked at it and I mentioned what Ma had said. He explained that his marking inside the watch indicated that the last time he replaced the battery was close to eight months earlier. He further offered that the “works” inside were cheaply made and that those type of watches did not last long despite the apparent expensive look to the jewelry portion. I gave him a twenty dollar bill and he gave me back a ten. That was that. Now we were ready for the chit chat.
The watch repair shop serves more than the purpose of making clocks and the like new again. It is a hangout for those with not much to do but time on their hands to kibitz. Despite the presence a block away from the major expressway exchange, being a specialist in watch repair doesn’t guarantee much walk-in trade. You’d need about thirty people to ask for battery replacement a day to make the location worthwhile. Alex’s business comes more from jewelry stores on the other side of town giving him batches of watches to repair. Apparently, Alex is a master of a dying watch repair profession in America.
Alex does not like when you say to him that he is Russian. He says he was born in the Ukraine. His early years were spent under communistic doctrine and scrutiny and could not wait to go to a capitalist pig of a country. Having spent so much time in a socialistic lifestyle, Alex says he does not believe in the existence of a god in any religion. Instead, he believes “In Money We Trust”.
While the interplay with Alex was going on, ever so often I would turn to look at the Seikh sitting on a chair. He was intermittently staring at the Iphone in his hand and looking back at me, laughing on cue at my humorous comments. Naturally, after a few minutes, I got out of character (from doing my standup routine) and asked him if he was a Seikh. Good guess. He was. I figured I had it right because the night before I had watched a YouTube video clip of an old What’s My Line game show contest in which the panel had to guess a Hollywood Wax Museum owner as the occupation. Both the contestant and my new found buddy wore the same type of turban. The show moderator, John Charles Daly, had asked the same question, “are you a Seikh?” and received the same affirmative reply.
Ramamumble (well, that’s what his name sounded like to me) told me that he tries to make friends with everyone even if the other person stares at him for five minutes. Another customer came in for watch repair so Ram and I got into a conversation. You’d think it had to do with the world politics and what it’s like living in India. Nah. We talked about our favorite television shows and how network tv is dying. Ra says he pays eight dollars a month to Netflix and watches all the old tv shows that interest him. I told him to check out Hulu and YouTube.
The customer left the watch repair shop and it was back to the three of us- the watchmaker, the Seikh and the insultant to go back to kibitzing. We were doing a fifty years into the future version of Andy, Barney and Floyd hanging out at the barbershop in Mayberry, North Carolina trying to figure out how to pass the day.
I’m figuring by now that you understand I’m the insultant. That’s what the people who know me best call me- a consultant who is not in a good mood unless he insults his clientele. Which is why I have so much free time.