Way back when – when Zelda and I were in the infancy of our friendship – we were so full of shit…ah…er…plans. We just knew we would conquer the world with our flash and sparkle.
Free spirits that we were, we loathed the 9 to 5 thing because it squelched our bon vivant souls – and we somehow found ourselves gainfully unemployed at the same time. This of course was a recipe for disaster, but we didn’t know it yet.
Rather than update our resumes and hitting the job market we thought, “Hey, we’ve got a barn, let’s do a show.” Well not a show exactly but we did stumble on the brilliant idea of becoming partners and doing some freelance business consulting.
While we were working on putting that together, Zelda happily rushed in one day and announced she found us some work. Since I was sick of eating peanut butter and jelly samiches, I too was delighted.
“Buff a bus?” I narrowed my eyes. “What the hell does that mean?”
“Piece of cake,”Zelda assured me. “I’ve got all the equipment and me and Skippy did it for months last year. Good money too.”
I didn’t really believe her but eating and paying the rent were high on my list, so I was game.
At the crack of dawn, Zelda picked me up in her old beater and we took off for parts unknown to me. Not a great neighborhood – the kind that make women like me think she should stay in the car and keep driving. But she pulled up to a warehousy looking place and said, “Wait here.” Like I was going to jump out and start flirting with the scary looking characters loitering on the street corner? No. I didn’t move. In fact, I would have been happy to stay there until it was time to go home. But she came back, pulled the car into a parking space and we were ‘there.’
All manner of jugs, gadgets, power tools and rags were pulled from the trunk and there we were, two small women against one big, dirty city bus. We were outnumbered to be sure and I was scared already. Gulp.
I’m not sure, but I think the guys in the warehouse were snickering the moment we entered, dragging our equipment behind us. Especially me, since I just really can’t pull off the macho thing with any authority. And so we began.
To be honest, much of what we did is a blur. I only remember hour after hour passing with the appearance of the bus improving – but my appearance going steadily downhill. Not to mention the fact that we were hungry and had no money to buy lunch. Water does not fill an empty stomach no matter what anyone tells you.
Finally at about 6:30 pm, we got to the actual buffing part. Zelda hands me a buffer, which was equal to half my body weight and asks, “You want the to do the roof or the sides?”
What I really wanted to say is “I want to go home.” What I actually said was, “The roof.”
For those of you who’ve never traveled to the roof of a city bus, you may not realize it is the size of a small island. suddenly the buffer didn’t seem nearly big enough. But man, did it have a motor with real get up and go! In fact, in my first attempt, it almost propelled me off the fricking roof. No, that wouldn’t do. Can’t stand up and buff. Let me try kneeling, while grasping it with both hands. Off I skidded to the edge of the roof, switching off the evil buffer in the nick of time. Okay, so the only position I could buff this baby in was lying flat on my stomach while trying to keep my face away from the buffer – no easy task.
All I remember after that was watching my arms flying out from under my body in spastic circular motions. All I really seemed to be doing is slow the buffer down as it dragged me to and fro across the roof of the bus. Up one side and down the other.
I shouldn’t complain because Zelda had the tougher job, having to hold her buffer upright while it threw her spine out of alignment , climbing up and down ladders to get to the sides and front of the evil metal monster that refused to shine. But I was so preoccupied with what I believed to be the last day of my life, that I simply didn’t have the energy to empathize.
By 10:30 pm, we were all in. We had stopped caring hours ago about the sparkle of the bus and just wanted our damned money and to go home. Naturally, the guy paid us with a check and so there was no possibility of getting food on the way home, the seven dollars we had between us had to go into the gas tank – so we gritted our teeth and scolded our stomachs and headed out.
By 11:30 pm we arrived at my house – filthy, chattering teeth, cold to the bone and starved. I took a quick shower then ordered Zelda into the bathroom while I scrounged for dinner in the kitchen.
You must understand that trying to cook when your arms have spasmed to total muscle failure is quite the trick and limits your choices of menu. So, spaghetti it was – sauce? Hardly. I couldn’t chop veggies with my teeth, now could I? I dressed the pasta with a few tablespoons of tomato paste and salt and pepper – we weren’t really going to so much taste the food as just fill up our stomachs anyway, so who cared? Our beverage of choice was water and maybe I made coffee but it was probably without cream or sugar and was on par with the fine spaghetti I’d made.
The next day, as we shuffled around like 90 year old artrhitic men – we managed to take the check to the bank and cash it. After all was said and done, we’d each made $4.84 an hour on our first freelance business venture. Oh yeah, we had definitely hit the bigtime!
To this day, I can’t look at a buffer without emitting a tortured kitten groan. I say, leave it dirty.