I wrote last week about my time up in Echo, Utah at the Kozy Cafe. Well I was sitting at the counter talking with Jody, the manager, when I had the most unexpected series of events happen…
I mentioned last week that I was sitting pretty close to the kitchen, Jody was getting a refreshing beverage for me when a middle aged man with salt and pepper hair in a shaggy cut down over his ears came crashing through the kitchen doors leaving them flapping wildly behind him. He thrusts a pair of old worn tennis shoes with a dirty sock stuffed in each out at arms length, pauses for dramatic effect, and drops them onto the counter right next to my arm. Pieces of dried mud and debry scattered every direction as they shake loose from the bottoms of the shoes.
Jody turns to see what the commotion was all about. The man gestures wildly at the shoes with both hands and says in a voice that is just a little louder than should be used in a public place, “THERE! There you have it!”.
Meanwhile I’m working very hard to maintain my cool, casual nature, perhaps you can understand since there’s dirty shoes and socks on the surface I’m preparing to eat from. Jody quickly points out to the man that you don’t put dirty shoes on the counter next to a customer in a diner! He looks at me, quickly shoves the shoes off of the counter, clattering to the floor, and looks back at Jody like all is well and they can continue the conversation. Jody finds a rag and cleaner and starts cleaning the counter…
She introduces me, and tells him that I’ve come to meet interesting people and write about their stories. At this a huge grin spreads across the mans face. He states very matter-of-factly “I’m Scott! I’ve got a story for you!” while thrusting his right hand in my direction to initiate a handshake.
I looked down at one of the dirtier hands that I’ve run across in my life. It’s very obvious that Scott has been working on a car all day, since the grease seems evenly applied all the way up to his elbow, any hint of actual skin color long since forgotten on these hands. The dirt that flew from the shoes has also stuck to the hand. So it’s quite a presentation.
I look at the hand, and look back at him to see if he seriously wants me to shake that. He gestured with his hand again and says “it’s a little dirty”. I smiled at the fact that he didn’t really need to point that out, and figured “when in Rome” and shook his hand.
He then told me the story to write about him.
“I was in a car dealership for a job interview to work in their carwash. I needed a job bad. They ran a credit check on me and told me that I had bad credit, so I didn’t get the job. People with bad credit will steal from the dealership and steal from the cars they are washing.
So I asked him his name, and he told me. Then I asked where he lived and he asked me why I wanted to know. I said the way things were going I was going to run out of money and turn to a life of crime. When I became a criminal and started robbing people, he was going to be the first. Then he looked at me and told me to get out.”
What I’ve written here isn’t an exact quote, but the story is factually what he told me. When he finished he looked at me with a grin that reminded me of an eight-year-old. He had lots of stories to tell, and when he told them I realized that, while rough around the edges, Scott is a very likable guy.
By the time he walked over to the corner of the cafe to sit with his friends, I was glad I met him.
My thought was “nice, I met someone I really like, but how am I going to write about that?”.
Then Jody started telling me about Scott.
When Jody opened the Kozy Cafe she had lots on her mind – plumbing wasn’t one of them. After a couple of weeks she realized that every time someone flushed, it was backing into the basement. The pipe to the septic system was corroded, and nothing was getting into the system. After she spent $900 with a plumber and still didn’t have the problem solved Scott came over, introduced himself, waded into the basement and fixed it for $65. Since that time he has dug into the parking lot, pulled the old pipe out and replaced it with a new PVC one. No charge for his time.
She told me the car he had been working on that day belonged to someone else, he was just helping them by fixing it.
Then she looked at me and said – he’s done so much for me, I never would have gotten the cafe open without him, and he’s never charged me a dime for his time.
I glanced over to the corner where Scott was sitting. He was the center of attention, doing some kind of comedy routine for the people who were sitting around. Two waitresses stood with pitchers in their hand listening to his routine and smiling.
I realized that underneath that quirky rough exterior, Scott’s a good guy. A great guy. Helping where he can and making people smile. A great addition to any community, no matter what size.