or “A Conversation with Mr Lee”
I had to go to the hospital yesterday to give my routine bi-monthly blood sample and just after I left my car broke down not 2 blocks from the hospital. I quickly pulled into a parking lot near a Subway shop and called the repair shop that I have done business with before. They gave me the number of a tow truck driver that they normally use, responsible and inexpensive was how they described him, so I ordered some food and called Mr Lee on my cell phone and gave him directions on how to find me and my broke down Buick. He had a thick Vietnamese accent but spoke english fairly well.
Mr Lee eventually arrived, a short stocky man maybe 50 ish, fat faced, with very squinty eyes. He loaded up my car onto the flatbed and we commented to each other about the weather and the heat and such, just small talk. I climbed in the cab and we started on the 40 minute trip to the repair shop near my home and he was in a very talkative mood. He eventually noticed the bandage around my arm and asked what was wrong, I told him briefly about my liver transplant and that I had to go frequently for blood tests, and that was all he needed to launch into his description of what was wrong with people today.
Mr Lee “I have problem too, my doctor say I have high blood pressure, and they no want me to drink beer, but I tell him no, I will drink beer anyway, If I can’t have the beer, then that’s no living, I don’t care.” he said. “I drink the beer.”
“I work 10 hour day, I go home, I want drink beer, I don’t drink the whiskey or the cognac or the vodka, just a beer… well sometimes a few beer , you know?” “If I can’t have the beer then who wants to live without the beer.”
“My family try to tell me, no beer! But I drink the beer anyway, sometimes I even drink it in morning, sometimes at lunch. I like the beer.” he continued.
So far I have just been agreeing with him, I mean, who am I to tell him that drinking beer is wrong, I like beer myself. He fell silent for a few minutes and I could see that he was thinking… and then…
“The problem for all people is the chemical, everything you eat, every air you breath is chemical, all people are sick from chemical. There is just too much chemical.”
“I have a cousin in Mississippi that have big chicken farm and they give the chicken chemical, the baby chicken is full grown after only 4 months from the chemical they give it. You eat the chicken… you eat chemical.” He went on.
“That is the problem for everyone, too much chemical. The chemical make you sick, everyone is sick from the chemical.” Then he was silent again for a couple of minutes.
Then suddenly he bursts out with “you eat cow, you eat chemical!” Like it was a sudden revelation. I laughed to myself and agreed with a nod and a smile. Mr Lee was being very entertaining and I was really enjoying hearing what he had to say.
Then he added “You eat bread, you eat chemical, you watch old movie with Moses and they bake the bread and in two days the bread is no good and they have to bake more. But they bake it without the chemical! Now you go buy Bunny Bread and it last two weeks! Too much chemical, you cannot eat anything without the chemical inside.”
He then goes on to describe how he has his own small vegetable garden at his house and he doesn’t use any chemicals to make it grow. And that he loves to drink his beer! No one can make him stop drinking the beer, he proclaimed loudly. The conversation slowly turned toward human mortality and the risk of dying in all kinds of situations.
I told him about the 2 times I came fairly close to being blown up in terrorist attacks in Scotland and England and then he told me about the time when he was driving a tow truck in San Francisco in 1989 and that he was on the very freeway that collapsed in the big earthquake that year. He was stranded on one of the decks and had to wait for rescue and narrowly missed being crushed by broken sections of the highway that had pancaked down on to lower levels. As we pulled up to the repair shop,we congratulated each other on being survivors.
I paid the $55 towing fee and we parted ways, I felt that I had gotten a good deal more for my money than just having my car towed. Talking to Mr Lee was definitely the high point of my day I thought, as I waved him goodbye.