Tagged: Cowboy shirt

So, Joe. Enigmatic. Been seeing him every so often over the last seven or so years whenever I need hi-fi ink jet copies of my drawings. He’s good. Very technical. The strip mall store he works at is pricey but Joe’s tops. I know if he’s on the job the moment I walk into the place and look in the direction of the frame & print department. Whoever’s working is seated behind a large screen computer. If they’re not sporting Tin Tin’s haircut…I leave.
I’m quite fascinated with Joe. Told me once he was a history major in college. Eastern European events. Knows a good deal about the Vikings in Russia & Byelorussia, about the Balkan Wars, Crimean War, all that Iron Curtain stuff. I had heard about the connection between the words ‘Slav’ and ‘slave’ but it was Joe who told me of the derivation of ‘cíao’ from ‘slave’. He’s keen on mechanical pencils and fountain pens and is usually sporting an ever changing pair. Likewise here. I comment on his. He on mine. A couple of hopeless gear heads. He likes plaid cowboy shirts with Mother of Pearl snaps, lots of panels, exaggerated cuts on the yoke. Dude must have dozens tho he favors a powder blue and brown combo.

Dropped in last week to take advantage of a storewide 40% off Halloween sale and place an order. Saw Joe in the parking lot on a cig break. A busy man, I let him have his peace. I watched from the printing desk as I waited for his return. I hadn’t seen Joe in a month of Sundays so the arm sling was a new development. Didn’t appear to slow him down much as he looked to be texting while nursing a make. He was already reaching for another cigarette as he crushed the previous butt beneath a high top Chuck Taylor. A pack of smokes is always part of his ensemble. Filterless. Total old school. Like my Uncle Bill. But so unlike my uncle’s measured, dreamy eyed way of languidly drawing the smoke deep into his lungs, and pausing to give the system every last second to snatch the cargo of nicotine before two wispy dragons slowly writhed from his nostrils. Joe was on a mission. For uncle Bill it was breathing. Just that. Joe’s urgency showed in impatient lips and eyes riveted to some something before or behind dilated pupils. Each drag is deep but the cigarette makes it back to his pucker before the exhale seems complete.
  What these committed smokers had in common were finger tips of amber and caramel tinting. Like aged meerschaum pipes. Teeth to match.
  I turned to look over his workstation while he power dragged. Orderly. The ever present cup of coffee. Didn’t matter when I showed up, there one sat. The other feature to Joe’s shift was the array of post-it notes. A handful on the counter top and several stuck about the perimeter of the computer screen. Usually in three different colors. Sky blue, bubblegum pink, mint green. Don’t know if it was a color coded system but Joe struck me as a man of systematic observance. I had never given them further consideration, but with time to kill……I slid a glance sufficient to note Joe still fixated on his cell phone and puffing like a car‘s exhaust pipe.
   I didn’t learn much from a quick look because they weren’t in English. There were numbers, perhaps phone numbers with crossed sevens and that Euro #1 with the long upstroke Yanks sometimes mistake for a seven. A buncha Greek frat letters. Some letters were backwards. Maybe Russian or some such alphabet. One word, ???? was followed by what looked like a date & hours of the day using the 24 hour clock. Odd. And if you’re entering orders into a computer, what’s with all the notes to self?
   More than that I didn’t get as an acrid bite to my nostrils announced Joe’s return. He slid into his chair, his eyes following an imaginary dotted line from mine to his post-it notes as he turned on the computer.
“ Mister Joe”.
Our brief exchange thoroughly muted by our face mask; de rigur in these days of pandemic, his appropriately bearing a Day of the Dead motif.
“Once I clear the previous orders I‘ll open your account”.
I tried to cover my inquisitiveness with a question of faux innocence.
“Gad zooks Joe, quite the hieroglyphs there. S’that advanced math to figure out your scale conversions?”
His eyes briefly glanced down at the colored squares of paper then returned to the screen before the muffled response came,”It’s Cyrillic”.
  I redirected the conversation to his sling. “That’s gotta make for an awkward day on the job.”
“Beats letting it hang”.
“Hope you’re on the mend”.
“Getting better day by day”.
“Good to hear. Been wearing it long?”
“ ‘bout six months”.
   Each response took appreciably longer than the previous. I’m slow, but eventually I get the message.
  Every so often a buzz would grab my attention followed by Joe rotating the wrist of his sling bound arm to show he still held his cell phone. A glance down, a tap or two, then the wrist turned to again conceal the phone.
“What do you have for me today?”’ he asked.
“I’d like scans and 50% enlarged prints of four drawings from my sketchbook”. I set my backpack on the floor and fumbled thru the stuffed contents to pull out an old ledgerbook I was currently drawing in. “The pages are marked”, I offered. He took the book and opened it to the pages I had marked with little post-it notes. As he did, I noticed his had been removed.
Drawn with Faber-Castell Essentio fountain pen, and Pitt Artist Pens on Stillman & Birn Beta Series sketchbook.
  • Categories

  • Archives

  • Tags

  • blog links