Sunday, June 04, 2006

A Visit to Needham Appraisal, Cambridge, MA

I mentioned previously that my car was involved in a collision -- guy on a motorbike rear-ended me. My insurance company recommended a place where I could get an appraisal for the damages to my car. So I go to this place on Massachusetts Avenue in Cambridge: Needham Appraisal.

Needham Appraisal is run by two aged Italian men, who I will call Vinny and Tony. They were the kind who apply more olive oil to their hair than you need to run an Asian massage parlor. Mind you, they were nice guys. Vinny was sitting at a computer, playing hangman, and Tony was smoking. In fact, Tony didn't stop smoking for the whole duration I was there (about half an hour), not even to talk.

I noticed the hangman game that Vinny was deeply engrossed in. He wore thick glasses, with thicker frames, and was peering into a thick dictionary open in front of him. The partially completed word in the game was:

_ A _ A I S T

I knew immediately what the word was, but he apparently didn't. He was down to two chances, and he still had about half the alphabet unused. Sweat was pouring down his forehead. Shit was tense. I said, "Try 'D'". He looked up from the computer at me with a mixture of hope and suspicion. He wiped the sweat off his brow, and entered "D" in, not having a better option. After about a good second, the computer said, "You Win! DADAIST is the correct answer!" At that, Vinny jumped up, exultant, took my hands in his, and pumped them in gratitude, shouting repeatedly, "Thank you! You saved my life!" I was bemused. I was thinking, "Dude, its only a game of hangman!"

Tony was apparently the appraiser. I led him out to my car, and he came, cigarette dangling from his mouth, and a camera from his neck. He walked around my car and took pictures. Tony was not only old, he also looked so frail he could be on the endangered species list. I was afraid the flash from the camera might shock him into a stroke, and indeed make him extinct. Somehow, that didn't come to pass, and I drove away with my car appraised.

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