I remember the man well. Domenic Malvestuto. I remember the weather on one of many days in which my endearment for him was established, for I had toiled for him over years…
It was a typical fall day in the desert — afternoon air temperature was around 24C, and the breeze smelled of orange blossoms. It gave me the familiar sense that business along with team activity, was about to gain momentum. Though the shop door was open to the street, and the occasional glance at passing students was pleasant, there was a tension at the workbench. I closed my eyes for a moment to imagine a cocktail in a coconut shell, a hammock, my Speedo hanging from a nail on the tree, and DeBarge coming through the Grundig crisply. For that second the island was mine.
But back to reality… I had tuned the Old Man’s voice out several minutes ago while watching his sausage fingers fumble with various fasteners and springs. He was attempting to strike the necessary notes, but was hitting only the black keys. The industry switch from 8 to 9 speeds had taken its toll on him. He was Italian as could be; the stubborn mule of a man–an admiral of old-world road cycling knowledge–could get the best of a fair mechanic with no effort. But I watched. I knew the answer already, and chose patience. It was the only way.
A toothed ring jumped benchward and a spring lept back, landing silently in a fold of the champion’s oxford shirt. While his fumbling hands bounced between parts on the run and his reading glasses, I quickly gathered the stray bits, and placed them. My motivation, as the delicious air of the season filled my head, was to get the job done before he felt compelled to squander any more of his legend. Snap. A focused effort and lightning-fast meditation sat all parts in location, odd springs secure in their notches, fixing bolt snugged.
It was then quiet. We stared at each other silently for a small moment — just long enough for me to see the confusing expression of Italian approval. The transference of respect was complete. That night, as the welcome chill of the evening rolled into town from Sonora, I took my drinks with unwashed hands. As I slept, the Speedo hanged. I was completely at ease with being slightly tardy the next day.