For several summers in high school and college I had a crummy job at an unpleasant workplace in downtown Nashville. But summer jobs were hard to find and I was thankful for my $1.40 an hour.
As low on the totem pole as one could be at Buford Brothers Automotive Warehouse, I was one of several stock boys. The salesmen and secretaries all worked in the air-conditioned offices while we stock boys roasted in the cavernous sweltering warehouse. We sought opportunities throughout the sizzling summer days to go into the plush cool office area.
Most of the secretaries and salesmen (all of whom wore suits daily) scowled at us sweaty boys who would venture into their Paradise. All but Pete. Pete was a huge bear of a man in his sixties that wore the same shiny blue serge suit day after day after day. He would smile and would try to learn our names. He bought us guys soft drinks one day, unheard of!
The movie musical CAMELOT had come out in the late sixties about the mythical story of the love triangle of King Arthur, Queen Guinevere, and the dashing knight Lancelot. One day in the lunch lounge several were excitedly discussing its stirring music, glamour, and romanticism. When asked if he had seen the movie Pete commented with a smile that his responsibilities at home didn’t allow him to get out much. The lunchroom fell silent.
I asked my boss Virgil later about Pete. He explained that Pete’s wife of 40 plus years was an invalid and bedridden and that their only son had Down Syndrome and would forever live at home. Pete worked his eight hours and when he got home his work really began.
Then the normally taciturn Virgil said the most remarkable thing that I still remember 50 years later.
“SHINING ARMOR COMES IN LOTS OF COLORS AND SIZES”
Though young, shallow, and naïve I understood my boss. Lustful Lancelot in his shining armor fought 40 days for his Guinevere, Pete in his shiny blue serge suit fought 40 years for his….
AMEN, VIRGIL, AMEN.