Sunday, June 30, 2013

Kinda Like an Old Chair

Charley’s Treasures
 by Charley Norton

I’ve never been known to be the best dresser. And there are days that I will venture out in public unshaven and often in desperate need of a hair cut. I can count on one hand how many times a comb has been through it in the last twenty years except for when Tammy Cross tries when I visit her for an always overdue haircut. My old red truck is battered and dirty but it fits me because I myself can be a little battered and dirty sometimes. In my line of work I could be helping customers in the store, going out on measurements, repairing tools or vehicles or working with the crew on a jobsite and most of the time I don’t know which I will be doing before I leave the house  so it is inevitable that I’m going to mess up everything I wear. Most of my shirts are now “happened on the way to work” shirts. If someone says I have something on my shirt, I’ll just say I spilt coffee on it on the way to work or I broke down and had to fix a flat. Sometimes I might  spice it up and be a hero. I’ll tell them how I saved a family from their burning car and the stain came from the melting paint as I brushed the door carrying their baby to safety. By doing this, I have done the community a service by giving a new and exciting story to circulate through town and it will at an amazing pace, usually ending up a better story than the original. In any case, I usually think of something.

       But it’s not to say that I’m a slob, I’ve just learned to make do with what I have and spend little to no time dwelling on any thoughts of what people may think of me. In return I share the same philosophy with those I meet. I strive not to be a first impressionalist (yes, new word). 

     I spent an hour one morning talking to a lady in her basement while she walked on her treadmill in a dress sporting several bits of electrical tape stuck to her face. It wasn’t until her husband brought it to her attention that I considered it odd for her to have tape on her face. I figured it was there for a reason or she was crazy, neither of which was any of my business nor did it keep us from conversation before or after she took them off (home remedy by the way). As for me, the beaten and battered, it is all too obvious that my edges are not sharp and I gave up worrying about others impression of me a long time ago. I guess I would relate better to an old chair.

      Like an old chair, worn naturally over years of faithful service. I think of myself not as being a slob, but as having a patina like a piece of furniture so worn from years of use (and abuse) that instead of being looked at as something destined for the landfill, it’s admired as classic Americana. A wonderful story that is told without words, but by simply gazing upon it. So the next time you see me and the state of repair that I will inevitably be in, look at me for what I am. I am just an old chair that needs a haircut.
      But I’m not alone. There are a lot of old chairs here in Wedowee and there is a reason for it. It is because we are comfortable here. Most of us are comfortable because we don’t feel like we have to impress anyone because they aren’t trying to impress us. It’s like casual Friday but happens every day of the week.

       This is the place where you can be yourself or be the person you want to be. This is the place where your success in the business and professional world is valued way less that your ability to carry on a good conversation or spit a watermelon seed the furthest. You would be respected more if you were related to the guy that caught the giant bass on the big river than if you said you engineered a nanobite that could cure the common cold.
   It’s just the way things are around here and it’s why so many flock to our docks every summer to explore the simple normalcy which is Lake Wedowee. Those that cannot grasp it are wasting their time and are missing out on one of the few places left uncorrupted by modern society. 

   I have to go now and fix our sander then head off to Ashland to scrape glue off a floor. I hate I couldn’t shave this morning, but  I didn’t have a spare and had to take the blades out the one I had to use as a scalpel and remove the appendix from that guy pulled over at the Building Supply. It was a close call. I’m just glad I was there to help…

Charley Norton is the co-owner of Norton’s Flooring with his brother Tom. The company was founded by his parents more than 35 years ago.
Illustrations by Tom Scott.


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