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Monday, 4 April 2011

Cable Guy

Jumping Boundaries

By Justin T. Carreño
[Writers Clearinghouse News Service]
Arlington, Virginia
I returned home and parked in the circle driveway of my high-rise apartment in Arlington's Clarendon neighborhood. I noticed a dilapidated pick-up truck parked on the side of the road among Mercedes, Beamers, and the like. Out of place. A burly, rough-looking man stepped out of the truck and approached me. He was equally out of place in his Carharts and his trucker hat in this upscale, urban center of yuppiness. From the passenger side, I saw a young, attractive gir step out at the same time as the man. Maybe his daughter....

Arlington, and, in particular, Clarendon, has some of the richest, best educated residents in the United States, and has all the 'trappings' to go along with it's elite socioeconomic status. No Wal-Mart nor McDonald's. But you won't have any problem finding a Starbucks or a $4-designer cupcake.

Arlington also has many people with acute internal sensors for 'undesirable characteristics.' If you don't have a college degree, haven't travelled internationally, or work a blue-collar job, well, you sort of don't exist. Typically, status is defined by cars, McMansions, and income.
The Carhart guy clearly did not fit the Arlington mold. I could have easily continued on my way pretending to not notice. Many would have.

But his look of mild desperation made me curious. I made eye contact.

He said in a deep Southern accent, 'I'm in a bit of pickle. I need a jump.' He pointed to his truck. I realized the quiet girl was a mere prop in a moderately orchestrated attempt to subdue any thoughts of this guy being too sketchy to assist.

'Of course!' I responded.

He had a momentary look of disbelief. Then said, 'Thank you so much.'

He connected the cables. He was acting quickly. He knew he was out of place, feeling uncomfortable. I knew he thought he was consuming my time.... precious time, very important minutes otherwise spent at happy hour or buying a designer cupcake.

But what this man didn't know is that he met one of the few people in Clarendon who wasn't in a rush. I had plenty of time, and, yes, I enjoy helping people.

He said, 'I'm so sorry. I'm trying to be quick.'

I said, 'No worries. I'm here until your truck starts.'

I think he was confused by my laid-back demeanor and willingness to help.

He responded in his drawl, 'I'm lucky to have met you. Many in this area don't have time for a poor redneck like myself. The last three people I asked ignored me and I didn't think I'd get any help.'

'Well, glad I can help. Where you headed?' I asked, dismissing his comment.

He said, 'Stafford.... From Kentucky originally.... Found construction work up here.'

The girl, now back in the truck, was trying to get the engine to turnover. She gave the key a final turn and the ignition started.

'Thank you so much, again,' the man said with a big smile that seemed to be an expression foreign to his face.

They were on their way.