October 14, 2018

Death of an Icon


So anyway, even though the weather during the day has been bright blue cloudless with sunshine and all the birds singing, Saul Tinker has been weeping bitter tears. Why is Saul so sad? It is not because of the dreadful recent appointment to the Supreme Court of a foul rapist or the inane natterings of The Carrot-Topped One. No. Saul is, or was, for 40 years an appliance repairman who specialized in rehabilating old Kenmore appliances. In fact, he worked for a quarter century for an American icon of business that is about to go bankrupt.

Some companies state boldly they want employees who love technology. Saul did not just love technology. He was In Love with it.

After moving out to Silvan Acres and his official retirement, Saul kept on working as an appliance guy in the San Geronimo Valley where people distrusted Outsiders coming to fix things. "They overcharge," was the word about Outsider service people. "They don't want to come out so far and so it takes forever for them to make an appointment." "The dog does not like them." But Saul, as an official Valley resident, was trusted. He was okay. Even if he was not really Presbyterian, he was still a Valley Resident.

On the day the news broke, Saul took out his old Sears uniform and laid it out on the bed and stroked its cloth. In the garage the shelves held Craftsman dremels, crosscut and rotary saws, variable speed drills that could drill through anything. Sanders, planers, screwdrivers and floor-jacks. Back in the day the word was you could bring in a failed Craftsman drill nearly half a century old and have it replaced by another of equal standard at any time with no arguments from a pathetic Help Desk.

Sears, with its creaky Daddy-knows-best advertising and its inch-thick catalogues filled with everything from conservative lingerie to vacuum cleaners had been the mainstay for white picket fence folks for generations and Saul had worked on Hoovers and Kenmores with devotion, coming to love the conservative styling and the basic vanilla designs to the point he would finish a job and after scrupulously cleaning the exterior and interior finishes with detergent would caress the machines with . . . love. Yes, Saul loved each and every Kenmore appliance and even composed little songs for the ukelele in honor of the refrigerator.

Man you keep so cool
so cool
i love you
i am a cool fool for you

Signs of trouble had been appearing for years, but nobody, least of all Saul, ever imagined the giant Big Box store would go bust. For years now Kenmore appliances had been made in Korea by LG, but still the Sears patina remained on them.

Companies, just like people and the wierd law that gives them equal rights, possess lifespans. No company lives forever. And so, when Martini, who knew something about mechanicals, noticed the sad state of his neighbor, he rallied the Household and they approached Saul with the idea of Waking the Sears.

I am sure I never will

ever have another tool
quite like my Craftsman drill

that makes me sigh and drool


That is right. Why not hold a memorial service for a beloved Company nigh unto the time of El Dias de los Muertos?

So it was plans were made to construct an ofreta with sugar skulls and cut paper, but also including saw blades and wrenches and drill bits and little bowls of fragrant cutting oils. No one knew what a Company had ever enjoyed in terms of food, but Red Bull, pizza slices of course, and deli sandwiches seemed in order. A field trip was planned during the Oaktown Fruitvale to visit the old Sears building down there on the edge of downtown; the same building that had been untenanted for years. It all grew into quite a project and many of the residents of San Geronimo Valley joined in, with many a greybeard cradling a beloved sawsall or a toaster oven and with these artifacts of Americana, they builded themselves a pyramid of Love.

It was during all of this furor, in which the pastor at San Geronimo Presbyterian felt compelled to issue a sermon on moderation in the subject of Caritas, and both Green Gulch and Spirit Rock developed homilies reminding people of the illusory nature of life, that Malia Hexnutt appeared before Saul, wearing a blue dress. Malia had been a mechanic at Berkeley's Grandma's Garage. Malia owned a seductive assortment of Makita tools and she knew how to use them and she had blowtorches no one else had in the Valley, because her welding magic was granted by the Gods of Tig and Arc.

Malia threw Saul down, exclaiming, "Forget her! There are still Milwaukee tools! Harbor Bay and Makita!"

"Never!" sobbed Saul. "O my cherished washer and dryer!"

Nevertheless he still allowed Malia to ravish his body. Fickle is the heart of man . . . .

These preparations grew so extensive, involving now hundreds of people, that we cannot finish the entire story at this time and so will have to continue in the next issue.

In the Old Same Place Bar, Padraic and Dawn were getting the place ready for the costume season with lots of pumpkins and spiderwebs and of course a miniskirt for Suzie, the bartender, much to Suzie's and Dawn's displeasure.

It is the season also for the Elections and so Babar and Papoon have been appearing nightly to express the vitality of their opposing views. Babar is of the True Conservative Party and Papoon is of the Slightly Liberal Party and the two pretty much disagree on everything save for their mutual dislike of the incumbent President. Babar finds the President lacking disgression, which generally hurts the Party. Papoon finds the President lacking morals, ethics and a Soul, which is bad for the World in general.

The Man from Minot put a quarter in the jukebox and a gentle rock-a-billy waltz shuffled through the air. The Man from Minot grabbed Pimenta Strife and Luther stepped out with Jaqueline and other couples pushed the tables aside to dance as the air outside the windows grew nippy and the headlights of cars revealed the glowing shapes of orange pumpkins on stoops all up and down Lincoln Street.

It is three weeks until the last Precinct Inspector on the edge of the North American Continent calls out after 8 pm the words mandated by the Constitution, "The polls are now closed!" Until the last vote is counted, it's all talk.

It has come to pass - the worst of fears

our dependible friend through all the years

has met his demise,

and so with teary eyes
we bid fond adieu to our beloved Sears

The sound of the mournful train horn keened from Oaktown across the estuary and wended its way through the fog-shrouded Marin's well-matriculated hills and slid over the sleeping bulk of Princess Tamalpais following the old, forgotten railbeds that once led along Sir Francis Drake Boulevard to the coast, stirring the coyotes who began to howl their evensong which carried forth on the winds over White's Hill and Fairfax, ululating through Silvan Acres and the cubbied niches of Lagunitas, coursing with faint gray shapes along the ridgetops through the mist to an unknown destination.