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Story ID:10083
Written by:Frederick William Wickert (bio, link, contact, other stories)
Story type:Musings, Essays and Such
Location:Middleburgh New York USA
Person:Joe Beretz
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By Fred Wickert

Joe Beretz always came across as an easy going man. He never gave the impression that he was a very sharp person who had all the angles covered and he was not the kind of man to want everything on paper and notarized. No sir. Joe was of the old school where a manís word was his bond and most business was done on a handshake.

On the other hand, when someone tried to get the best of Joe, they seldom succeeded. Saw Mill Joe was not a man to mess with. (See SAW MILL JOE, story ID#10062) People tried sometimes but you just didnít pull the wool over Joes eyes. This story tells about one who tried and found it costly.

One evening a man came in to Saw Mill Joes and he remarked to everyone in general but no one in particular, that the drive shaft in his truck was getting ready to give out and he needed another drive shaft to replace it.

Joe calmly said, ďIíve got a drive shaft that will fit your truck.Ē
ďOh man, thatís great! How much do you want for it?Ē
ďOh, I donít know. Iíll have to think about it.Ē
A few minutes later Joe named a price. The guy agreed that the price was a fair one. Joe told him to bring his truck at a certain time the next day and he will help him put it in his truck so he can be sure it works right.

Then the guy told Joe, there was just one problem. He didnít have the money right now, but he needed the drive shaft now. Joe told him that was okay. He said the guy could pay him some time in the next few weeks. The guy told Joe he appreciated that and that he was sure to pay him before very long.

The next evening the guy parked his truck at the curb. In a few minutes Joe drove in beside his truck with the drive shaft in the back of his truck. The guy looked at it and saw that it was in good shape and he was happy about it. He got under his truck and began taking the drive shaft apart so he could get it out of there and replace it with the new one Joe had brought for him. Joe slid under the truck and proceeded to help him with it. In just a short time they had replaced the drive shaft.

A few weeks went by and the guy never gave Joe any money so Joe asked him one day, ďWhen are you planning to pay me for that drive shaft?Ē
ďWhat drive shaft? I donít know anything about a drive shaft.Ē
ďIs that so?,Ē Joe said. ďOkay, if thatís the way you want to be.Ē Joe walked away and never said another word.

Saw Mill Joes bar was right on Main Street. There was an ordinance that prohibited parking on Main Street between three A.M. and five A.M. During this time the Village Street Crew made a few passes with the machine that vacuumed and swept the street and then washed it with water all in one pass. They got right up to the curb with it and did a nice job. Frequently people forgot about the ordinance. The street crew called for the police and the tow truck was called, a parking ticket issued and the vehicle towed away to a garage.

One night Joe was parked a short distance away with his truck. He didnít get out of his truck but just sat there. After a while the truck with the drive shaft he had not been paid for, was parked at the curb. Joe waited another hour. Finally he moved his truck and parked it beside the other truck. He got out with some tools in his hand, and slid under the other truck. He proceeded to remove the drive shaft, put it in the back of his truck and drove away. He had just repossessed his drive shaft.

When it got late, the guy came out of the bar and got in his truck. He started it up and put it in gear but nothing happened. After a while he realized the drive shaft was gone. He asked around and found someone to drive him home. In a day or two he found a shaft for his truck and went to put it in. He discovered the truck was gone. He went to the police who suggested he contact the garage. The truck, if it was left there all night was probably towed away.

He called the garage and inquired if his truck was there. The reply was that indeed it was there. He went to the garage to get it. Willy, he garage owner told him it would be $100. The man was outraged. Why was it so much? He knew someone who got towed one night and they only paid $50. Willy told him that was because it was a car. His was a truck, bigger and heavier. Therefore it cost more.

He didnít like it, but what could he do? He told Willy, okay, but first he had to put a drive shaft in it. He couldnít drive it otherwise. Willy told him, not so fast. Willy told him that was an auto repair garage. He couldnít just bring his own parts and do repair work on his property. They could not stay in business very long if they let people use their place to bring their own parts and do their own repairs. Willy told him he could pay him to have his mechanic do the work and he could sell him a drive shaft.

He said he already bought a drive shaft and could do the work himself so why should he pay Willy? Willy told him because that is what his place of business was for. The guy asked Willy what else could he do? Willy replied that he could tow the truck someplace for him, but it was going to be an additional $100 tow fee. Willy also told him that after that day, if his truck was still there he was going to have to charge him another fee every day for storage.

The guy ended up paying to have his truck towed to where he could fix it himself. To top it all off, to add insult to injury, when he got in his truck he found lying on the seat a parking ticket and he had to go pay that.

It is not known if the guy ever decided he might better have paid Joe for his drive shaft in the first place, but I donít think he ever tried anything like that again with Joe. It just didnít pay.

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