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THE POPE OF SOUTHTOWN SERVES HIS FLOCK
I’m standing in place at Express Oil, awaiting my audience with the Pope of Southtown.
My burgundy beat-up bookmobile is giving me fits, but I am a person of loyalty—I will nurse and patch and compensate for this old vehicle till one of us rattles one last time.
While Burgundy Bookie and I stand in place, we gaze at the actions and interactions that take place in graceful but purposeful slow motion.
One longtime mechanic, Philip, moves among a flock of customers who depend upon his seasoned abilities. We are at the mercy of Philip and the other specialists who greet us and patiently minister to our mechanical needs.
One petite woman stares up to him for a blessing, “Oh, my car’s still doing that, that thing. Can you fix it?”
He smiles, stares off into the distance as if seriously contemplating the response he will eventually give. Like a good diagnostician, he pays attention to what the customer is saying. He takes his time to consider the correct answer.
At that moment, he receives a cellphone call, which means he is now juggling three cases at once—mine, hers and the tinny-voiced human in his palm. Yet other congregants await his ministrations. Each of us is the most important human on the planet in our own minds.
I arrive at Express Oil just twenty minutes earlier, when the lot is still barren. Now, suddenly, the customers are lined up and Philip is gesticulating, scratching his head, dispensing advice on what he knows and what he does not know and what he will eventually know and what he will never know.
In the long run, these healers of transport are all that stand between us and a broken mass transit system, who save us from random and unpredictable encounters with Uber and Yellow Cab and hitchhiking.
These shadetree sophisticates are part of our family, the family we need to make our clockwork lives run smoothly in spurts.
That’s why now and then I drop off a box of donuts or a fudge pie created by daughter Jeannie. You know, something for the offering plate.
George Carlin nailed it a long time back, “I have as much authority as the Pope. I just don’t have as many people who believe it.”
The mechanics of Southtown have just enough followers to last each day. And that’s always enough and plenty for us true believers
© Jim Reed 2017 A.D.