Sunday, June 26, 2005

Kevin’s draining experience

Why do bad things make good stories? A good story better have some blood in it, or failing that, humiliation. Oh, or nudity. When a buddy is telling me a story, halfway through, I’m sizing him up, thinking, “Well, he still has all his digits. His dignity seems to be intact. This story is going to be boring.”

Keeping that in mind, allow me to regale you with a story of both humiliation and nudity, one of which was my own.

Late last fall, on a near-freezing night, my wife Kara and I stopped at a small mom-and-pop swimming pool supply store to buy a cheap replacement part. We bought the part and were on our way, except that we weren’t. Our (since-departed) jeep wouldn’t start.

I went back into the pool store and asked Kevin the Pool Guy if he would mind giving the jeep a jump start out in the parking lot. He hesitated for a moment, and I realized that he was the only one working in the store that night. But poor Kevin let his conscience get the better of him; he left the store unattended, and pulled the store’s van around to the jeep.

He brought out a tangled bunch of jumper cables. As I reached out to help him untangle them, he reached out to hand me the clips. Our hands knocked together, and I dropped my keys.

When the keys landed, they did not go “jingle, jingle.” They went, “ker-PLUNK!” And of course, when I looked down, I noticed, with great chagrin (but not as great as Kevin’s), that I was standing on a deep storm drain.

He said, “Do you have a spare set?”

I slowly shook my head. “I’ve been meaning to make some doubles.”

What a time to lie to the man. I never had any intention of making doubles. The jeep only had one ignition. Why would I need two keys?

The grate covering the storm drain had been paved over on its edges. Neither the Incredible Hulk nor Barry Bonds could have pulled it up. Kevin went back into the van and came back with a hammer and a steel chisel. He pounded away on the asphalt as I pulled on the grate. After twenty minutes or so, the grate finally loosened and came up, at which point it slipped out of my hands and dropped into the storm drain. The resulting splash hit Kevin right in the face. After wiping off the WQO (Water of Questionable Origin), Kevin had a look on his face that clearly asked: “Did God send you here as a test?”

Conveniently, there was an open storm drain right there for me to hide in. I crawled in and dug around, with just my legs hanging out into the parking lot. After a few minutes in the foot-deep water, my hands became too numb to feel if I was touching keys or broken glass.

A crowd gathered. People on smoke breaks came to watch. Pretzel vendors set up beside us. And still, nothing.

I knelt beside the storm drain and shrugged. What else could I do? Then Kevin dove into the drain, a fury of arms, water, and stinky debris. Handful after handful of rocks and leaves surfaced. Just as he started to drop a handful back into the water, I saw a glint. “Wait!” I yelled, and with a great sigh of relief, Kevin handed me my keys.

Funny thing is, the jeep still wouldn’t start. Turns out it was the spark plugs, not the battery. Actually, that part is funnier in retrospect. I don’t remember Kevin laughing at the time, though I hope he enjoyed the restaurant gift certificate that Kara and I sent him later. He really deserved for us to peel him some grapes and fan him with palm fronds, but palm trees don’t grow around here.

Oh, right, the nudity. I just told you that so you’d read to the end. In newspaper jargon, the technical term for that particular technique of teasing the reader is called “lying.” Kevin probably took a shower when he got home, though.


  1. Ha ha ha! Great tale as always Mike. But you must have the absolute worst luck. $3000 was it for the leaky toilet?

  2. lmao...funny and witty! I love a good humiliation story.

  3. AAA my man. AAA. Poor Kevin.

  4. The best stories always involve tragedy to some person. I've tried to write a funny happy tale, and it just can't be done.

  5. Haaaa!!! Great story.
    (have you joined the parade?)
    Glad to see these things happen to others as well.

  6. Thanks, muchachos! Yeah, that poor dude. I haven't been back there since. I might go drop off a copy of the paper with this story in it, though. Just hope that seeing me doesn't trigger any flashbacks.

  7. Dude -- not to blog stalk myself with two comments in a row, but Rima, I just freakin' now realized that you're saying American Automobile Association. I thought you were saying AAAAAAHHH, and that the comment didn't make much sense.

    I don't know how I haven't gotten naturally selected yet. Also, I'm too cheap to pay for a membership.

  8. poor pool dude! freakin' hysterical story though. thanks for sharing, mike.