Misplaced Old Men and Mailboxes

Last Friday evening I had one sweet hour to kill--alone. 

It wasn't that long ago--2007, in fact--when I didn't really have to be anywhere after work. If I was going to hang out with some friends after quitting time, I just told my wife the plan a few hours in advance and that was my life. As most of you are aware, all it takes is one small child to change everything. 

Last Friday afternoon I read a text message from my wife reporting that the family was meeting at Deschutes Brewery for my mother in-law's birthday at 5:30. I was at an all-day training kinda close to the brewery, so at 4pm I called my dear wife to announce that I was heading straight to the party instead of going home first. There was first a moment of silence, then she asked: "What are you going to do until everyone gets there?" 

"Um, hang out alone and enjoy myself." She was jealous. 

A few minutes later I was parking my car near the brewery. But my mission for solo time couldn't happen until I mailed off my life insurance premium, which was due in three days. So I had to find a mail drop box, and find it fast. While I was very familiar with the neighborhood, I couldn't think of where a drop box might be. Who remembers the location of such things? I walked past a Ben and Jerry's and thought about asking an employee, but I refused to suffer the pained grimace of an annoyed teenager who wouldn't know the location of a drop box if it was outside their high school locker. Walking several blocks with no box in sight, I thought, "Google Maps, of course." I pulled up my location on my handheld device and searched for a mailbox. No help. 

As I strolled a few more steps, anxiety rising, I spotted an older gentlemen at the end of the block. He had just exited a local store and was adjusting a sandwich board. Of all the people that were walking around that Friday evening in the hip part of Portland, he was the only one who instantly gave me hope. As I walked closer I saw his head turn, and he was smoking a pipe! Hah! Jackpot! Old man+tobacco pipe=Archiver of random facts. I was now certain he could help. 

From out of nowhere another guy went up to my old man and asked, "Where is the lady who sets up her art in a booth over here. You see, when I was here four years ago there was a lady..." This guy knew what I knew: The man with the pipe knows stuff. The old man patiently listened to him for a minute as I circled the two, grumpy that another dude beat me to the punch. When he noticed me there, and I interrupted them and asked, "Where is a mailbox?"

The old man pointed to the next street corner and said, "It's over there by the stop sign." 

And that was the end of it. I'm insured for another year, and I secured an hour to myself at the brewery before the rest of the family showed up. 

Old guys who smoke tobacco pipes know where stuff is.



krildog writes:
My grandfather is 96, and living the good life up in Colorado. He doesn't smoke anymore, but he does have an amazing knowledge of the trivial and important alike. One of my favorite pastimes when I visit him each year is to sit in his living room during Jeopardy and listen to him rattle off answers to about 95% of the questions that smug Alex Trebec asks. It's too bad that Pop's reflexes are slow, otherwise he could make a fortune on that show - but there's no way that he could hit the button in time. But if they ever have a grandfather/grandson show I will register us with the intent to stand there and hit the button faster than anyone else. Pop can do the rest. Did I mention that he's part Cherokee and has a tattoo of an Indian princess on his forearm? Or that he got paid to remove the scent glands from skunks when he was a boy, and used the money to support his mom and sister? What a badass.
Gavin Morgan writes:
Thank you Mr. Krildog. Your Grandfather sounds like an incredible Loose Gravel interview waiting to happen. I believe he would provide far more interesting content than either Mike Davis or the lady at the Golden Dragon.

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