Johnny usually enjoyed his job. While most of his work consisted of changing oil and other routine car maintenance that was somewhat boring, he was often presented with car issues that let him solve puzzles all day. He appreciated the satisfaction of tinkering with a car for a long while and then finally figuring out a solution. It was good, honest, hands on work. His boss was reliable and it supported his family.
Today, however, was not an enjoyable work day. It was four in the afternoon when his boss called him to the office and gave him an address, instructing him to take the tow truck and pick up a dude and his car that had broken down on the highway. It was an hour away and by the time he would return, the shop would already be closed up and he would be late for dinner. His mom would not be happy about that.
But he had no choice. He was the only one in the shop working that day and so it had to be him to go get whatever idiot let his car break down in the middle of nowhere.
Jaehyun sits back in his car with all the windows rolled down, sweat dripping down his sides as the sun beats down on the metal roof of the car. His suit jacket and tie are strewn across the back seat. His undershirt untucked and sticking to him in all the uncomfortable places. There was no escaping the heat. All he could hope for was that the tow truck would arrive before he died of heat exhaustion.
He sings a song that had been playing on the radio an hour earlier under his breath, trying to pass the time when what he hopes is the previously mentioned tow truck makes its way towards him. He unsticks himself from the seats and steps out of the car to signal the driver. The driver pulls onto the shoulder on the other side of the road before making a quick u-turn and pulling the truck in front of Jaehyun’s sedan.
Johnny steps out of the truck and gives Jaehyun a once over. Despite his disheveled appearance, it was clear that Jaehyun was well off. A fancy car so young only comes from rich parents. He hadn’t even spoken one word to the guy and knew he would immediately dislike him.
“You called for a tow?” Johnny asks, confirming that he was addressing the right person.
“Yes, thank you. My car just broke down out of nowhere.” Jaehyun motioned to the car behind him. While his words were polite enough, Johnny could tell that it was merely because he was at the mercy of Johnny and if the situation were different he would step all over him.
“Probably the heat.” Is all Johnny says before walking over to the car and beginning the process of securing it to the truck. “Probably be best to get whatever you need out of the seat over here and you can climb on into the truck.” Jaehyun does as he is told, grabbing his suit and briefcase before heading over to the passenger side door.
He grimaces at the grubby handle before fishing a handkerchief out of his pocket and wiping it down before opening the door. Once inside, he glances back to the mechanic rigging his car up. He looked young; fit. No receding hairline or potbelly. His raven black hair was swept up into a carefully manicured hairstyle and the sleeves of his coveralls rolled up to expose his tan forearms. A silver chain hung loosely around his wrist, dangling about as he cranked the car up onto the bed.
Jaehyun decides to ignore these features and face front as the mechanic climbs into the driver seat and heads down the highway toward town. Normally, Johnny would make small chat with customers. But he didn’t feel like it today. It was clear that this man was uncomfortable being in his car; in his presence and he didn’t care to engage in conversation with this obviously rich and stuck up human. He was pleased that the other was going to follow along and remained silent throughout the drive.
An hour later Johnny pulls into the driveway of the shop. The sun was setting and the air was finally starting to cool.
“Alright. We’re here.” Johnny says, not waiting for Jaehyun to acknowledge the fact before climbing out of the truck and beginning to detach Jaehyun’s car.
Jaehyun remains seated in the passenger seat for a moment longer when Johnny walks around to the door and opens it as if he were the driver of a limousine. “You’ve arrived at your destination, sir.” Johnny says in a mocking tone. Jaehyun frowns at that and climbs out.
“What do I owe you?” He asks Johnny.
“The tow will be 21.95. I won’t know the cost of the maintenance until I get a closer look at the engine.” Johnny says, pulling out a notepad to write out a service ticket. “You can wait until the car is up and running to pay or pay for the tow now and the rest later.”
“I can pay the tow right now.” Jaehyun takes out his wallet and pulls out a 20 and 5 dollar bill. “Keep the change.” Johnny opens his hand and Jaehyun shoves the cash into it. Johnny stows the money in his shirt pocket. “Now can I use your phone to call a cab?” Jaehyun looks around for any indication of a telephone.
“Yeah. It’s in the office.” Johnny leads the other to a room in the corner of the facility. His boss had already left, leaving the room deserted. “Here’s your receipt for the tow. Leave your phone number on the desk and we’ll get back to you with an estimate of the repairs.” Johnny says in a monotone, looking forward to this suit being gone so he can go home to a home cooked meal.
Johnny drives the truck back into its designated parking space and starts closing up when Jaehyun comes back out.
“Cab will be here in five minutes. Thanks for your help.” Jaehyun didn’t understand this mechanics deal, but it was not going to stop him from using the manners his mamma taught him.
“It’s my job.” Is all Johnny responded with, not pausing from whatever task he was busy with. Jaehyun frowns and exits the building. Opting to wait on the curb over continuing staying in this presence of this unfriendly mechanic.
Not before too long, a cab turns onto the street and Jaehyun climbs in, letting out a sigh of relief as he is driven home. A minute later, Johnny zooms out on a run down motorcycle with a leather jacket over his coveralls.
Johnny walks in through the front door to the smell of grilled meat and his hunger immediately peaks. “I’m home, Ma!” he yells out into the small interior.
“You’re late. We’ve been waiting for you for over half an hour.” A small woman scurries towards her son and begins swatting at his arm with a towel.
“I’m sorry, I had to tow someone and I didn’t get back to the shop until after it closed.” He tries to brace himself as his mother continues swatting him as they walk into the kitchen.
“You should call your mother when these things happen. I was worried about you.” She says, changing her attention to the dinner table.
“Donghyuck-ah. Come!” She calls her youngest to the table as Johnny sits down. “Eh, eh, eh. Wash your hands first.” She motions to the greasy hands about to grab a roll. Johnny groans, but stands back up and walks to the bathroom to clean up.
“Can I go out tonight, Ma?” Donghyuck enters the room, asking as he sits down for dinner.
“No. It’s a school night and didn’t we just get back from a parent-teacher conference where your teacher said you had not done your reading?” She flashes a look to her son before continuing to serve food. Donghyuck deflates, his head hanging low.
Johnny returns to the table freshly washed and digs in.
Jaehyun opens the door to his room and crashes onto his bed. The AC cranks, bringing a much needed cool to his body. He had class tomorrow and still lots of work to do but all he wanted was to relax after that exhausting day and unpleasant interaction with the mechanic.
“Hey, man. You wanna grab some dinner?” Mark, his housemate enters his bedroom.
“I don’t know. It’s been a long day. I might just have something light here.” Jaehyun says, eyes remaining closed.
“Oh, okay.” Mark responds, lingering for a moment before walking back down the hall.
All Jaehyun wanted was to sleep. And his wish was answered less than 10 minutes later with him snoozing away.