Anthony sat in the cozy office, waiting for that evening's one client.
Brake job, and rotors. The client didn't have an appointment yet; he would be a walk-in, as all their clients were, and Anthony knew he would be there because Pop had told him.
And Pop--well, he always just knew, somehow.
All was ready--coffee made, shop lights on and welcoming,news on the TV in the waiting area--the traffic report was just announcing lane closures on the Beltway from a crash,
when the little blue Corolla pulled into the parking lot....
Their client was here, then. Anthony turned the TV off.
He put on his most welcoming smile, and greeted the man. His name was Joseph Barnes and he seemed in a hurry.
People who neglected car maintenance till the last minute often were, Anthony had learned.
"Hey, my brakes are kinda making a noise, could I set up to have 'em looked at?"
"Of course! We can fit you in right now, actually...."
" I can't tonight--I gotta pick up my wife and daughter& get to her school--pageant's tonight. Tomorrow, maybe? Also, how much?"
"Tonight really would be better," Anthony replied. "You don't want to put off brake work--makes the whole problem much worse. And it'll be about $1500, parts and labor...."
"$1500!!! That's insane! It's just brakes, for Pete's sake!"
"Vitally important, though, Mr. Barnes. We could have them done tonight rather quickly...."
"Forget it! I'll shop around--goodnight." and Joe Barnes huffed out of the shop, muttering about outrageous prices, and faded away into the evening.
"No sale, eh?" Pop came in from the shop, noting the empty office.
"Nope. No sale. He has a wife and kid, too...maybe if the price was lower--"
"No, it has to be their choice. And they have to be willing to pay, even if we don't actually charge them. Turn the set back on, Anthony."
"Do it. We do what we can, and sometimes it works, but not tonight....."
Anthony turned the TV back on. The news was reporting a fatal car crash on the Beltway, family of three dead after rear-ending a tractor-trailer that had braked suddenly...."
Pop sighed. "Terrible. Well, Anthony, next time, maybe. Tomorrow we got bald tires on a teen-ager's pick-up truck....maybe tomorrow."