He lived on a wooded piece of Lynnwood property, up a long rutted dirt road that was generally a muddy mess. One look at the dilapidated trailer that he lived in and I realized that, despite his generosity, he wasnít the one in the family who had the big bucks. Inside, the trailer was barely twelve feet wide and not much longer than some peopleís kitchen. The trailer was a robinís nest of clothes and blankets; it was impossible to cross from one end of the trailer to the other without stepping on something. Every night I would gather up a tangle of bedclothes on the floor and go to sleep while Scott, a few feet further down the trailer would sleep in his bench bed, which was an equally tangled mess of pillows and blankets.
During waking hours, I would spend most of my time minding Fantastic Games. Scott wasnít the most motivated of owners, at the time, and expected the customers to come to him. He put in a lackadaisical effort to general upkeep and keeping the store shelves stocked. Much of the time, however, that job fell to me.
I didnít mind Scottís lack of initiative so much. It gave me the opportunity to jump in and work in an environment that was almost perfect for me. I loved role playing games and tactical war games and I got to spend much of my day pumping up the latest game releases to customers, restocking the shelves with the hottest new products, and being surrounded by what I enjoyed doing.
In many ways, Scott was more like an employee than the owner of the store. He was mainly interested in putting in eight hours and leaving the business stuff to someone else. When he did the ordering he would stock the shelves with gimmicky toys, not because he thought he could sell them, but because he thought they were cool. Another of Scottís downfalls was that he was not a great record keeper.
When I balanced the till in the evening, almost fifty bucks a day would show up missing. He would borrow cash and not bother to write it down. To make matters worse, I was almost positive that one of the other employees was skimming from the till. However, Scottís record keeping was so horrible that there was no way that we could ever prove anything. Often, when Bill was in charge of the till, a sizeable chunk of cash would disappear.
I worked at straightening out Scottís records and was able to pinpoint about how much they were losing. In one month they had lost about fifteen hundred dollars of merchandise to people helping themselves to a five-fingered-discount, and walking out of the store with stolen items beneath their jacket. Before I started keeping track they barely had an inventory record, and I shudder to think at how much money waltzed out the front door. Needless to say, the store wasnít doing too well financially.
My Mustang had long since been gracing the landscape of a Smokey Point junk yard, and so for transportation I reverted to the VW bug that I had driven in high school. I have to admit that I felt like it was a bit of a come-down after becoming accustomed to driving my Mustang. My bug just wasnít up to snuff when it came to street racing, and it had a long history of interesting mechanical problems.
When my grandfather first bought me the 74 Super Beetle, I felt a bit disappointed. I had grander visions in my mind. My grandfather is a great man that has helped me very much during my life, but he is notoriously frugal. The man has some money, and probably the reason that he does is that he had a penchant for hanging on to it once he gets it. Iím sure he was trying to teach me the value of money, and thought that a used car would be the way to go.
Though not entirely pleased with his choice at the time, in retrospect I have to thank him for it. Not because it taught me the value of frugality, but because of all the fun I and my friends had with that thing. In many ways that car helped form my life. I would take that bug places that four wheel drive trucks didnít dare go. And even the long string of mechanical problems were opportunities that allowed me to experiment with the very method or madness, as it was in my case, of driving.
For a long period of time while I was in high school the idle ran unusually high. After a bit of experimentation I got so that I could undo the sunroof, sit up on the roof while hanging my feet through the opening and steer with my feet while the car was in third gear. If I needed to shift, I could change the gearing with my foot without even using the clutch.
One afternoon I was practicing this technique on a country road and the idle was running so high that I was doing thirty five miles an hour with out depressing the gas pedal. It was a fairly cold day and the wind whipped my scarf up over my eyes. For a second I panicked. Quickly I dropped into the driverís seat and cleared the scarf from my eyes, and found that I was headed straight into the ditch. Just as the carís wheels began to jounce along the gravel of the shoulder, I jerked the car back into the roadway.
This was just one of the amazing stunts that I performed with the red super Beetle as my daring partner. One day my starter stopped working, so for a period of a few months I was push-starting my car wherever I went. It initially happened right after school got out. Everybody was standing around watching me try to start my car and a lot of them were laughing at me and making fun of the Volkswagon. So I unrolled the sun roof and began pushing it toward the slope of the parking lot exit. Once I got it going downhill, it began to pick up momentum on its own. Before it could get away from me I leaped to the back bumper and ran up the sloping back of the car. Dropping in through the sun roof, I threw the car into first gear and the motor sputtered to life. Instead of being trapped in the parking lot surrounded by a chorus of jeers, I left in chorus of cheers.