Saturday, June 20, 2009

Burning the Midnight Oil with the Jewel T Man

Years ago when Mom and Dad first heard I got a scooter, they weren’t too happy. No one in my family ever rode motorcycles or scooters. Even though I’m a grown adult, being overprotective parents they were afraid I would hurt myself. The “s word” wasn’t mentioned unless I broached the subject. Whenever they came to visit me in Oregon, I’d make sure they saw me ride my scooter to break the ice. See, I scooted and lived to tell the tale. Gradually, they became more receptive to the idea - I also never bothered to mention dumping my Kymco, landing a teeter-totter jump during a gymkhana. I can hear my Dad now, ‘Who do you think you are Steve McQueen in The Great Escape?’
I know they still worry, but now whenever my Dad sees any kind of scooter photo or article he’s quick to send me the news clippings instead of lecture me.

I’m up late many nights working on Bumpstart and occasionally I’ll call my Dad, as he’s a night owl like me. One night I was having trouble with a story, so I took a phone break and called home, knowing he’d be awake watching Law and Order re-runs. He’s not much of a phone person, but that night he was feeling chatty. I told him the ‘zine was taking longer to complete than I had hoped and I was feeling anxious about the reaction it would receive when it saw the light of day.

For some reason, he launched into a story about his days as a Jewel T salesman. During the mid 70’s, Dad had a route selling the Jewel T product line, which featured everything from cleaning products to clothing, food, and china. His brown delivery truck parked in our driveway was a veritable general store on wheels. Mom had to literarily keep the kids out of the Jewel T cookie jar as to prevent profits from being eaten. The company was mainly known for their Autumn Leaf china pattern, but in the Winter of ’74 Jewel T came out with their unbreakable china line. You could drop it, smack it against a surface and it wouldn’t break.

Dad went out to show off the new product to his clientele. The housewives will just love it he thought. Right out of the gate, first house the unthinkable happened. The unbreakable china broke. In fact, it shattered. Dad had left the box of china in his delivery truck overnight and being winter, it froze. Surprisingly, he actually got the housewife to buy the product even though it actually did the opposite of what he had previously touted. I don’t know how he did it, but he let any embarrassment he may have had just roll off and made the sale.

Ok, it’s a cute story I told him, but how is this suppose to help me? What’s the moral to the story?

“I never said there’s a moral,” he replied. “I dunno, never leave china out in the car during winter months.”

Great, thanks Dad. Words to live by.

I said goodnight to him and went back to the story I was having trouble with. I kept thinking about my Dad’s quirky story with no moral. It made me to rethink the direction I was going in and I actually finished my story.