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I had an experience similar to Byzantine's today, when I finally got to meet in person a customer of mine I'd heard from almost daily since his 1999 VW Bug had been towed into my lot. Most of the time, I never see who the owner of a car that I'm in charge of until it's finished, and I am usually thankful of that, because having an owner come in during the repair always puts me on edge. It's like they're looking for me to screw up.

I had been told that Jonas once worked at our shop as a lowly porter, and Randy had said once that he was probably my type, whatever that is supposed to be. Since we work on all kinds of models, usually Nissan, Honda, and Toyota, it is rare to have a VW in our shop. Jonas called almost every day to check on his car, which had been badly rear-ended while it was parked on the side of the street. It needed a new quarter panel, bumper, and axle, two of which are plastic and took forever to come in. Even the tire we replaced took a few days and had to be shipped into town. On the phone, Jonas' voice alone annoyed me, as does any customer who calls every day thinking that one day means a lot of change for our business. I could tell he was around my age, since he'd mentioned at the tail end of his car's stay with me that he had a hard time making to his college finals because he didn't have rental coverage on his policy.

Finally, tonight, he was due in to get his car. At that moment, I was busily trying to get an older man out of our office after I had given him a free estimate for his truck. Jonas just sat there in one of the front office's chairs and stared at his hands. He was wearing a suede jacket that had seen more than its share of wear, corduroy pants and dull black Doc Marten's. I grabbed his paperwork to walk him to the cashier to pay his deductable, and the first thing I noticed were his hands, red with the cold and edged with long, neatly filed nails. His jaw was lined with a dark red facial hair compilation of mutton chops and a beard, his chin length hair, also dark red or brown, tinted blonde in some sparse streaks and wet, like he'd just had a shower.

And then I saw his eyes. They were bright green and shaped like perfect ovals, like sideways diamonds. Not usually what I like. They started from his face so much that I couldn't tell or care if he had eyelashes at all. We made small talk while waiting for the cashier. He was going to Delgado and wanted to be a chiropractor at some point. Seemed like a valiant profession to me, since everyone in my business needs one. All of the sudden I felt more apologetic about how long we kept his car, I felt the need to do something more. When I walked him out to his car and then went back into the office, I recounted my reaction to meeting him, since Sandi and Tiffany didn't actually see him walk in. I told them he was beautiful, sighing against the door. Moments later he races back in to ask if I knew that his Check Engine light was on, which I wasn't. I told him that if the body man had known, I would have found out about it and sent it to a VW dealer to have it serviced, but now that he was picking it up, he didn't want to leave it with me again. I gave him one of my business cards to give to whatever dealer was closest to him, and they could bill us if it was accident related, which it likely wasn't.

Sandi and Tiffany took this time of his return to see for themselves the creature I had described. When he finally left, they turned their noses up at my taste, saying that he was almost downright ugly to them, almost oafish, like a gargoyle. But I didn't care. He was worth it. Just seeing that he actually exists was enough for me.