A Younger Man’s Eyes…

Written by mitch on. Posted in Blog, Personal

I was sitting at my desk lamenting the fact I haven’t been able to write in weeks: analyzing the interruptions, cataloguing the distractions. I’m sure I looked pathetic to anyone peering into the office, having fallen prey to a a host of demons who refused to be cast out upon the blank page staring back at me.

Well, excuses are like bellybuttons… with everybody having at least one. The problem was I had more than my share and all of them were legitimate: challenges at the shop, an industry Summit in Las Vegas, preparing to sponsor a community event and the ever-present “To Do” list growing ever larger every day.

I needed to get something going. But, I was stuck. Paralyzed! So, I did what most people do when frustration becomes unbearable anxiety… I opened my inbox and started wading through my emails.

mitchFeb12  002There’s something therapeutic about deleting emails. It may be a little like eating Chinese food where you eat something only to find yourself hungry again a half hour later. But, deleting emails actually feels like you’re accomplishing something even if it’s an illusion: even knowing there will be just as many to delete tomorrow!

I was in “The Zone,” ripping through email after countless email trying to sell me something or get me to buy something or just trying to prevent me from doing something meaningful when I literally had to knock my finger off the ‘delete’ key before it was too late. It was an email from an old friend. One of the very first people I met in L.A. when we moved here from New York what feels like a million years ago.

His nickname was “Animal,” which pretty much says it all… especially, when you realize Sesame Street and the Muppets hadn’t aired yet. He introduced me to the third Musketeer; or, maybe it was the other way around… I’m not sure any more. But, I am sure the three of us we were inseparable for our last two years of High School.My beautiful picture

Dave had evidently stumbled across some old pictures: some really old pictures of the three of us just after graduation and had attached them to the email I almost deleted, alongside a mug shot of each of us and the way we look today.

There are truckloads of clichés to describe the impact of an email like that, an email that forces you back in time and then drops you mercilessly into the present. There are countless ways to convey what it’s like to confront those three strangers: what it’s like to find them staring at you with a younger man’s eyes.

It’s especially difficult when Los Angeles was the last place on earth you wanted to be the summer of your sixteenth birthday: when you remember just how angry, miserable and unhappy you were and how hard you tried to ensure everyone around you had a chance to react to those same emotions.

I’ve told almost everyone I know how much I hated everything about L.A. for the first four or five years I was here. And, yet, I couldn’t stop smiling: smiling so hard my face hurt!

Could it have been that bad? Sure felt that way while I was stumbling through it…

And, yet, I was smiling… I’m still smiling!

I’m smiling because all I can think of is how much fun we had and how much trouble we got into: cruising Sunset Blvd, fighting side-by-side, evading L.A.’s finest while they chased us through Park La Brea, driving to Palm Springs for coffee and then home again – the same night, street racing and John-John telling the cop standing at his window –  ticket book open – that he’d like a hamburger, fries and a coke (Yes, someone really did that before it found its way into the movies!)!

All I could think of was how these two guys were always there and always there for me. That, and how important the kind of unconditional friendship outlaws and outcasts seem to have in High School was to someone feeling as isolated, alone and vulnerable as I did then.

They kept me sane and safe… Well, sane, anyway. And, I’d like to think I helped do the same for them.

So, thank you, Animal. Thanks for a trip back in time, however brief. Thanks for the memories and thanks for your unconditional friendship when we were kids. You never will know just how much it meant or how important it was.

And, John-John, I’ll stand back-to-back with you anywhere and at any time… I’ll even ride along the next time you want to play “Paper Thin,” and that’s saying a lot.

I’m not sure you can look ahead at life through a younger man’s eyes, but you can certainly look back into those eyes and see the seeds of who you are and how you got here. That, and the reflection of two great friends looking back at me…

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mitch

I am a fourth generation, forty-sixy year veteran of the automotive aftermarket: an ASE Certified Master Technician, Service Consultant and Approved Automotive Manager. I grew up in this business with a passion for all things mechanical, particularly those things relating to performance. That passion grew to include all aspects of management, leadership and personal development with a special focus on every day shop operations which resulted in an eight-volume series on automotive shop management published by Cengage Learning and Thomson Publishing. I have been a trade journalist writing to the aftermarket for almost thirty years, devoting my professional life to improving both the image and experience of everyone struggling to succeed in the service industry and I've worked diligently to improve communication and increase understanding between all segments of my industry. This site and everything on it is both an extension and a continuation of those efforts

Comments (8)

  • CHuck Pearson

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    On a daily basis I travel back as it reinforces my exstistance in this world. I drive by the “old shop” and watch it falling apart from neglect, all boarded up and lonley. Meet “old custmers” once and awhile but read about those who have left us more often now.I was out in my garage the other day on a mission from my lovely wife, returned an hour later, she didnt ask where I was knowing that I had found a box of old invoices or was looking through my tool box , reflection is good for the mind and soul. You mentioned about standing “Back to Back” with friends isnt that what true friends are all about? I can measure the person and there are many that I have met through out the years that there is no question nor hestitaion , your one of those friends. I will end with this, the decision to retire the company was nothing compared to the noise the key made when I locked the front door for the final time. On my way home I got a call from someone that I havent heard from for years an old employee a young man that could look at his future through ours., he asked to meet for coffee on my way….so we could reflect on our travels and that my friends is what life is all about..all the good things.

    Enjoy the day Mitch

    Reply

    • mitch

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      Old friends are the best friends just like old values are the best values… At least, they were. Thank you for being both a good and an old friend.

      Reply

  • sandy and john

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    I remember thos good old days. We had so much fun and were so ypung. Let’s all get together for dinner for old time sake and wonerful memories. Hope you and your family are well Johnny just has tripe brpass surgery and is recovering.

    Reply

    • sandy and john

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      I remember thos good old days. We had so much fun and were so ypung. Let’s all get together for dinner for old time sake and wonerful memories. Hope you and your family are well Johnny just has tripe brpass surgery and is recovering.

      Reply

  • sandy and john

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    Oh I forgot to thank you for the article it was great. It was fun to read. I think chucks station is still on Fairfax. We pass it all the time when we go to the Grove with Dave and Ruth. You and Leslie should join us we have a bite to eat and go to the movies

    Reply

    • mitch

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      I’m not sure you need to thank me… You and Dave made it all possible: you were an integral part of that time and that place and a big part of how and why the memories are so vivid and so appealing (comforting?)! And, yes, we should get together…

      So, let’s just pick a date and do it… The only question is where and when… How about we cruise through Delorese’s or Tiny Naylors on Sunset? ;-{)} Breakfast at Kantor’s? Whatever or wherever, I’m in…

      Reply

  • sandy and john

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    Tiny Naylors is out of bussiness. Dave and Ruth will be out of town March 23rd so how about the beginning of April if that works for you and Leslie. I will see Dave tomorrow so I will ask him. Maybe Bobs Big Boy we went there. Remember

    Reply

  • sandy and john

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    Canters is okay

    Reply

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