Last Thursday was one of those days. Considering when you’ll read this, I suppose I should call it the Thursday before last. But, as my late friend Dick Cosgrove would say, that’s neither here nor there.
Things actually started to unravel the day before. I came out of the gym on Wednesday morning and quickly put down all the windows in my car to let some of the heat out. When I pushed the buttons to “roll” them back up, however, I heard this clunk behind my left ear.
I looked back and where my driver side rear window should have been there was nothing but a metal “arm.” I pushed the down button and the arm went down. I pushed the up button, and up it came. But like before, with only a clunk. No window.
Now, what I know about cars you can fit on the head of a pin. Once, years ago, when my car wouldn’t start in the Dispatch parking lot, I flagged down sportswriter Kevin McDonnell and asked if he knew anything about cars. “Sure,” he said. “If it doesn’t start, it’s the starter. If it doesn’t go, it’s the goer.” I concurred. And called AAA.
When you don’t know anything about cars you have to have a guy in your world who does. My guy is Ron Gitkos, owner of West Side Auto in West Pittston.
I’ve often said, or written, one of the best things about living your entire life in the same place, is that you wind up dealing only with people you’ve known 50 years or more. Ron Gitkos is in that category. We go back to Little League. I clearly remember Ronnie as a Little Leaguer because he was so good. I’m sure he has no recollection of me, because I was so bad. But that’s, you know, neither here nor there.
Ron and I have developed a friendship over the years, enhanced recently through our involvement with the Pittston Lettermen’s Club. He’s become the person I trust for all problems automotive. I always ask him to treat my car as though his daughter would be driving it. I suspect he would do that anyway because I suspect he does that for all his customers, but still, I say it, and still he answers with a smile that tells me he will.
So, off to West Side Auto I went. I told Ron I’d leave the car and walk home and there was no rush getting to it.
Now for Thursday.
I reluctantly passed up the gym because I needed to spend the morning writing. A ribbon-cutting to open the new Luzerne County Community College branch on Main Street, Pittston, was scheduled for noon, and I figured I’d get in a good three or four hours on a project I’ve been working on all summer before heading downtown. At 7 a.m. I poured a coffee and opened my laptop. Only to discover Microsoft Word wouldn’t work.
The document opened all right, but it was frozen. I couldn’t type a thing. After a few closings and re-openings, I noticed a message on the screen saying I had to “activate” the program. It’s a message I’d never seen before. Not surprisingly, “activating” called for my user name and password, which I promptly typed in and promptly was told was invalid.
So, I changed my password. Still, nothing.
“Here we go,” I thought. And here we went.
Eventually I found a way to request a phone call from Microsoft and received an email telling me I would get one in 18 minutes.
Close to an hour later, the day started closing in on me. I didn’t want to miss the phone call, but I needed to shave, shower and get to the ribbon-cutting. When Ron called to say the car was ready, I put a plan in motion. My wife would keep an eye on my phone while I took a quick shower, and then drop me off for the car in plenty of time for me to drive back to Pittston. As for the Microsoft call, well, there was not much I could do about that.
Except to answer it when my cell phone rang just as I was walking into Ron’s garage. What a fiasco the next 15 minutes were: me trying to talk to Ron, me trying to talk to the Microsoft guy (I’m guessing from India), me trying to write a check, me trying to talk to the Microsoft guy, me trying to listen to Ron’s explanation of the window problem, me trying to talk to the Micro … well, you get the idea.
Yes, I was late for the ribbon-cutting. But I did arrive in time to chat with most of the folks who showed up. One was my pal Charlie Adonizio who suggested we cross the street for a Majestic hot dog. State Rep. Mike Carroll overheard this and, despite a luncheon meeting scheduled an hour later, said he’d join us.
Sitting there shooting the breeze with one guy I’ve known for well over 50 years and another more than 30, and realizing the day suddenly had brightened considerably, it occurred to me there are very few “bad” days that cannot vastly be improved by a Majestic hot dog. Or two.
Not to mention, a couple of old friends.
Ed Ackerman writes The Optimist every week. Look for his blogs online during the week at pittstonprogress.com.