The Mender

Love Can't Always Be Articulate

This story The Mender  is intended for my book whenever it comes to be.  I posted it on Facebook once and found out that a lot of my friends were equipment menders themselves. I had ended with some kind of negative comment about the character in the shop.  Many people stood up for him, and said that they had done it themselves and it was a thankless task.  So I took that out, having thought through the menders mind with a kinder view.

I really like this story and wanted to follow Bernard with something he might think worth reading.

Thanks so much for the incredible response to I’m Gonna Miss Bernard.  When the subject is inspiring and the circumstances are fatal, it’s easy to write an Opera.

The Dublin Unitarian Fri Nov 25th at 8pm tix;          tickets.ie

Wexford St Iberius  Sat Dec 3rd at 8pm tix at the Wexford Art Centre

Cork  – Coughlans (intimate solo) +353 21 496 1751 for tix

Limerick City (special event  by invitation only) Dec 12 – 8pm Write to me if you want tickets.

There are two private Parlour Gigs also.

The Mender
I went to get a piece of equipment fixed today, I had a feeling that it was a minor complaint, but try as I may, I couldn’t get the offending box to work. Having just travelled across the Atlantic, it seemed plausible that it may have been damaged going through the traumatic baggage slinging that ensues between departure and arrival, even if it was wrapped in two T shirts and stuffed between the jackets and trousers. I have a gig next week- with rehearsals in between – this is a crucial piece of equipment, I have to resort to a repair shop, presto.

So I googled Roland Repair in Manhattan and called to check for office hours, it was 9.50 A.M and someone answered, (good sign) I explained my predicament, met with the usual repair shop nonchalance.

“Bring it on in” he yawned, but not before 10 A.M.

We are open from 10 to 6 “

“Oh you’re an ambitious man, in there already” I said in the begging tone of a groveling charmer. He seemed puzzled by what I was trying to say,

Typical repair nerd, I thought to myself and assured him that I was over thirty blocks away, no danger of walking in on him before he finished his bagel.

This place was on 31st bet 5th and 6th a pretty new white building with a fancy silver intercom arrogantly peering down from its shoulder level pulpit. I approached it with aggression, realizing that I needed to manhandle it immediately, or it might get the better of me.

“Have a nice day and welcome to the building” flashed across its small blue screen.

“To reach the business that you require look up the directory bet A and Z….”

This place was called Audio Hospital and it was on the 5th floor, I tried everything but could not open this bloody door. I figured it was room #5 and assuming that this was the required digit. I pressed it, and got myself a second page which seemed to indicate that by pressing the green call button, I would alert someone to my presence. But all it did was send me back to the first page.

“Welcome to the building”……..

As I stood there on my toes, It was getting the better of me. Then I saw a young woman through the Glass door coming from the elevator, after she exited I stopped the door with my foot- having no intention of being sheepish about breaching security- she had the demeanor of New York boredom and emitted a sense of disrespect for whatever it was she was paid to do in that building. I knew she was stepping outside for a smoke,

“Just for curiosity, how does that buzzer work?” waving it away with her cigarette she dismissed…

“Fuck knows!”

I got out of the miniature elevator on the 5TH floor, it turned out to be a small building with ambitious presentation, obviously the work of a slick real estate firm intending to charge exorbitant rent for cramped renovated rooms in central Manhattan. Stepping out into the hallway I expected to walk for a while, around a couple of bends, checking door numbers until I got to #5- the usual rigmarole – but this building was like a person seated with a big torso and very short legs, you have an image of them that is confounded the minute they rise to shake your hand. The moment I stepped out of the elevator I was there! To my left with the door held open by a keyboard there was a darkened brown room crammed with all kinds of clutter- at least that’s what it seemed like at first- but upon scrutiny it became clear that the clutter comprised of all kinds of keyboards. They were everywhere, small analogue oddities, huge analogue dinosaurs, slick modern hi tech synths, lying on the ground, leaning against the wall, upside down, standing on their side, some of them worth a fortune. I squeezed into the dimly lit, claustrophobic, slightly sweaty hallway of the room.

“Hello?”

“Yes, can I help you”?

“Hello! Where are you?”

“In here”

I looked down the dark brown hallway, to my right there might have been a counter, I wasn’t sure, whatever it was, was piled up to the ceiling with equipment, mini-disc players-dat machines-synth modules-just piles of yokes.

“In here! You have to sit on the stool to see me”

There was a high stool behind me, I sat down, and there through the letterbox of skewered space between all the yokes, was a balding old man of about seventy five with long grey scraggly hair wearing a shabby old blue shirt and black tie. His wire rimmed glasses had been oft repaired by selotape, and his trousers were held up tight by a worn out and tattered old brown leather belt. He was folded in half by years of being alone with all this mending; his shoulders almost touched his knees. He was well spoken though, and he managed to gain my respect, in spite of my initial hesitance.

Illuminated by a small sharp, white, reading light. He tapped my name and address into his computer.

He wanted 75 dollars to just look at it, and said if I was in a hurry I should have the rush job for $125.

“No, I’ll just have the normal job thanks”

“Well, when do you need it?”

I wanted it yesterday, but decided to realistically see things his way.

“Next week?”

“Well, if it’s not a rush job, I can’t have it until January!”

This was mid November.

“What! Listen, I’m a working musician trying to survive in a dying industry, I can’t afford this, and I believe it’s a minor problem”

“I understand” he yawned

“But all this equipment belongs to working musicians, and they are all in a hurry, I have to pay the rent”

I knew that he had me now, of course the rent would be huge, but if he would only look at this for five minutes, I felt that he could see an obvious failing.

“Well I wouldn’t have come here if you had told me that over the phone, can I have it back please”

He passed the module back, through the narrow space, with a shaky hand. He seemed to look at me with some curiosity. But I knew there was no use in pleading. He was well versed at forcefully sending out the New York mental vibe of “It’s not my problem, Sir” The City and the Bank were on the Landlord’s back, the landlord was on the mender’s back and now he was backed into a hole in the wall surrounded by equipment, with an Irish man huffed by the callousness of it all. No ones problem but mine.

I went home and with nowhere else to turn other than buying something new, I re-approached my search for the manual. Rewording the search name I came across a download of the manual for my beloved old Synth module, A book I would’ve had, if I lived in one place like a normal person. There was one tiny switch at the back on “Comp” instead of “Midi” (thought I had tried it already) I flipped it and lo and behold; it worked! I talked out loud for a long time.

“Thank you God, thank you, I could have paid $125 for him to do that in 3 seconds”

2 Comments

  1. A great story well-written.

    Your characterization of solo NYC repair shop-owners is right-on-the-money.

    And on behalf of New Yorkers, I object to your characterization. Even though it’s true.

    Reply
    1
  2. Thank you Mark-objecion sustained.

    Reply
    2

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