The Uphill Slide

There is always something.

Cash Economy


Location: In traffic near Penn and Fifth. I turned my head to make a face at Caleb. When I turned back, the car in front of me was a couple of lengths ahead. The car behind was pulling out and then moved back in as I pulled up. I thought the driver was feeling a bit of road rage with me because I wasn’t moving with the traffic. At the next stop of movement, the beige car behind me pulled up besideĀ  me. I looked over. He was talking to me. “I can fix your fender. Pull over.”

Cary said, “Don’t stop.” But I did. He wanted to pull out the dent on the back driver’s side that someone put there when I was on vacation. It was just caved and did look like a sort of easy pop and smooth. He opened his trunk and pulled out a bar. I said, “Give me your card or number. I don’t have time now.” “I would if I had a phone,” he said. He was already putting the tool between metal and bumper. “No, I don’t have time or the money (It wasn’t an excuse. I only had a zipper bag of coins with me.),” I repeated. He didn’t stop working and said he understood. I was laughing as I said, “You don’t understand because you’re still working. Stop!” He didn’t stop. He said he was just checking if he could do it and needed a heat gun. He was like that person who is ignoring you and talks over you trying to wear you down.

“Where are you going? The grocery store?” he asked. “I just don’t have time right now. And I don’t have the cash,” I responded. He was such a salesman trying to convince me that it would be only 5 minutes. He suggested I could go to the ATM and withdraw ‘out of the goodness of my heart’. $75 was the suggested donation from my heart. He was like the solicitor on the phone who won’t stop talking. Finally you hang up with the sound of his voice still in your ear.

He understood my finalĀ “No”. I wanted a business arrangement. The look on this Johnny-on-the-Spot of dent repair was disappointment at failing to close the sale. The Toyota traveling dent man. A bodywork man of the unreported secretive cash economy. His work limited to the hit and run of dents he could flag down.

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