I work as a waiter at Country Lakes Cafe in Marion. (I promise this story isn’t just a plug for the restaurant, although it worked out nicely.)
As a waiter, I often make small talk with customers when they come in. A while back, a couple came in, and our small talk consisted of discussing how hot the weather was. (Our conversation came to the conclusion that it was very hot outside.)
They then ordered coffee.
I don’t know; I don’t drink coffee a lot, so maybe this is completely normal. But my personal feeling here, is that if the mercury in the thermometer is beginning to boil, the last thing I’m going to order is a steaming cup of coffee. An iced caramel-mocha frappuccino with whipped cream, chocolate chips and sprinkles, maybe. But not coffee.
However, this is just me.
But a person’s choice of beverage is not the main point of this column, although it very well could be after all the time I’ve spent on it.
The main point of this column is, ironically, irony.
A good example of irony is the rear driver’s side wheel of my car, Max.
This tire has been a brimming source of irony for me over the last several weeks. After getting repaired at our Friendly Local Auto Services shop, Max picked up a nail, which sent him back to the Friendly Local Auto Services shop.
Yes, this is fairly ironic. But not hysterically funny. Please do not underestimate me until the end of this column.
Not a week later, I got called out to Tonja Wienck’s country home to sort through several hundred pictures of our recent trip to Chicago.
When I left her house at around 10:30 that night, I noticed that Max’s rear driver’s side tire was looking a little mushy. Upon further inspection, I found that the tire was completely deflated.
Tonja’s husband, David, helped me reinflate the tire, in the hope it would get me home.
You know how in cartoons, when a character’s stomach becomes abnormally inflated and another character pokes him in the gut with a pin and the first character goes hissing around the room like a leaky balloon? Well, this is about how well Max’s tire held its air.
Within two minutes, the tire was back to being flat.
David and I got out a flashlight and searched the tire. This is when David discovered an unusual object.
I’ve heard of people losing their car keys in odd places before, but the fact that there was one wedged into my tire was a smidge overdone.
Apparently, as I was driving down the dirt road, somebody’s misplaced key found its way into Max’s tire.
So Max went back to our Friendly Local Auto Services shop.
The offending key was a General Motors key, and was in reasonably good condition, considering where it had previously been. (Sort of like sausage.)
Tonja and I discussed this incident several days later, and I told her I had decided to hold a Cinderella-like contest to find the key’s original owner. I would advertise it through my column, and people who met the criteria—the criteria including (1) owning a General Motors vehicle and (2) having recently lost a key—could enter and come test the key in their car.
Tonja suggested that, since this was a Cinderella contest, I should be the prize.
However, I opted to make the grand prize the complete collection of spare change in my arm rest; the total winnings being $2.91.
Other contestants would get consolation prizes of other objects found in my arm rest, including three gas receipts, a crumpled sticky note with a list of radio stations, a crusty tube of Chapstick, three gum wrappers, four melted cough drops, two Sonic straw wrappers, a blank Valentine’s Day card that came free with the purchase of a rose, and a free child’s pass to the Luna Bros. Circus from June.
Toward the end of our discussion, Tonja noted it would be hilarious if the key was actually my own. Although funny, I didn’t think it at all probable, and shrugged off the possibility.
But a few days later, out of boredom, I took the key, inserted it into my door and turned it.
UFO: Bill Clinton once noted that the government would be able to function better if Richard Nixon, having lied to the government, would resign as president.
Don’t ask why.