Saturday, August 6, 2011

365 Jobs, Day 217: Justin

August, 1983

Justin is a friendly man in a big house, living alone.  I install ceiling lights.  He fixes me a steak lunch.  He has the gift of easy conversation.  At 53 he's almost old enough to be my father.  His wife died five years ago.  He has two sons, both salesmen as is Justin himself.  "Runs in the family," Justin says.

"Not mine," I say.  "I could never sell anything."

"I don't sell," Justin says.  "I help people."

I believe him.  It's a great attitude for a salesman.

The people he helps are purchasing agents for high-tech weapons manufacturers.  The equipment they buy is classified, so Justin can't tell me anything.

He seems lonely, following me around in a three-bedroom house that is now empty of wife and children.  I appreciate his company, especially because he keeps praising my workmanship, exclaiming how good and how low-priced I am.  It's nice to hear after a few clients recently have blown up at me.  I like this man.

"Does it just roll off you, Justin, when people are nasty?  In your line of work, it must happen a lot."

"I try to figure out what is their problem and if I can help them.  Which," he laughs, "I usually can - by going away."

I return to Justin's house a few days later to complete the job.  This time he has a companion who he introduces as "my lady friend."  She has a long firm body and hard old eyes.  She frowns as Justin feeds me croissants, strawberries and cream, bacon and eggs while telling me again how great I am.

When I go into the attic to run wires, I hear a few sharp words exchanged between Justin and his lady friend.  When I come back down, she's gone.

Justin says, "Hey, I've got some Swiss cheese that'll blow your mind.  Let me cut you a slice."

"I'm stuffed already."

Justin cuts a slice of cheese.  Grinning, he hands it to me.

He's right.  It's fantastic.

He nods his head toward the front door.  "I'm fine," he says.  "I meet people.  I'm easy.  More?"

"Yes, please."

Justin slices.  "I hope your wife never dies."  He hands me two more slices.  "That's all."

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