It’s the case that an apology can be worthless. I waited for my supervisor in the back office of the car repair garage for an hour. I had nothing to do but examine the office. They stopped using the filing cabinet, I could see by the labels on the drawers, in 1997, which was, I assume, when they got the beige computers with the thick plastic keyboard protectors.
I did the car intake and drove the cars from the back lot into the bays, when my supervisor, who is about 5 feet tall, told me to. I feel 100 years younger than the mechanics. It’s the case, however, that I’m not far from them. I got this job because that’s what people my age do; the mechanics work here because they married at 19 and had two kids before they turned twenty-five, or because their dads taught them how to repair cars and they left high school with that plan.
I wrote my first poem last night. It is about the girl who drove her convertible in for routine service yesterday. The men at the front stopped what they were doing to stare. I took her convertible to the back lot, which is very hot under the sun.
Many people keep the interiors of their cars in terrible shape. Some have ashtrays full of cigarette butts, other have what looks like seventy dollars in loose change collected everyplace, but the coins are glued to each other and to the car by months of spills of sugary drinks and ice cream. Her car was brand new; the interior was immaculate except for a graduation tassel on the rear view. We didn’t go to the same school; hers is private. I left my poem on her dashboard for her to find when she came to pick up her convertible. I wanted to confess, without giving my name, what I felt when the men and I saw her.
This afternoon my supervisor told me to bring the pretty girl’s convertible into the oil and lube bay. Where I was supposed to turn into the bay’s door, I stopped. I saw the lot’s exit in front of me. I didn’t turn into the bay. They found me a mile down the road, at a different garage, filling the convertible’s tank. My supervisor asked me why I didn’t take the side streets. He said I wanted to get caught.
They put me in the truck and my supervisor drove the pretty girl’s car to the garage. Seeing him in the car made me hate my poem lying on the dash. I decided that I would put it in a box and never read it again. But I can’t know my future self.
They took me into the back office and made me change out of my uniform. The only thing I had to wear on top was the camo jacket I left there months ago. It was the case that I couldn’t get anywhere with my supervisor by telling him that I was sorry I stole the pretty girl’s car. He had my poem in his hand, but he said nothing about it. He said, let me take a picture of you. He wanted a kind of mug shot and he wanted to humiliate me. So I took the antlers off the wall and held them. He seemed to like that.
I don’t think anyone wants to get caught. When people are told that they wanted to get caught, I doubt they understand. It is always a surprise, to get caught. I think that what we want instead is to confess.