Even when I’m at work I’m not working, because I’m spending my days socializing. I believe I told you a short while back about how lots of people drop in unannounced at Pat’s Screen Printing. The last two “work” days have been proof of that, in case you needed proof.
On Friday evening, Sam (of our construction crew) and his wife Annie stopped by. It was Car Show Friday —
[I completely forgot about the car show, missed all of the shirts we printed for it, didn’t participate in any of the electric car events GCEA was urging me to join . . . this entire summer has been more lost than usual.]
— which is where the Gunnison Car Show has all its participants park in the middle of Main Street. I think the idea was to bring people downtown where they might shop, and I used to tell people no one ever stopped in, and if they did they didn’t buy anything, but Gilly was busy up until 7 p.m. and could have stayed open later. Except that it was Friday and she had spent much of the week cleaning our very dirty house.
Anyway, Sam and Annie were among those who stopped by. I hadn’t met Annie, and I don’t know why I would expect anything different, but she’s every bit as nice as Sam. They came here from Boulder because Annie is enrolled in the Masters of Environmental Management program at Western, and they’ve been pleasantly surprised at how much they’re enjoying Gunnison.
Sam, who looks like he’s about 15 but is one of those with enough life experience to be 45, is familiar with screen printing because a friend’s uncle used to print out of his garage. (We have also learned from Dusty that Sam is an accomplished musician who was in several bands in the Boulder area, so Some Day many residents of Gunnison might get to know him.)
And they endeared themselves to me forever, because one of the first things they noticed was a plaque clear across the room. Bob made it years ago —
[Another aside, this time for an update: Bob called yesterday afternoon to say the hits keep coming. He had just spoken with an oncologist and another doctor, and has been diagnosed now with auto-immune hemalytic anemia (maybe I got that right). Before they can treat that, with steroids and more blood transfusions, they have to clear up the bone infection. He will be at the hospital at least a month, unless a room opens up at the health care center. As of today, he should be able to send and receive e-mails.]
–using a dedication I stole from a play (now I can’t remember which one, nor the playwright). It’s a reminder to me, and hopefully others at Pat’s, that the shop should always be imbued with Pat’s values.
So if that was a new acquaintance, Monday turned up an old one. A man walked in yesterday morning and told Gilly he was looking for TL. He had a satchel over his shoulder, so I was assuming he was a sales rep, but then he said he was Kevin White’s dad and I recognized him as Steve White.
This goes way back to my origins at Pat’s Screen Printing, and I will forever be in debt to the White family.
My first day at Pat’s was as a volunteer. Pat was going to Montrose to have her gallbladder removed, and her lone employee, Tina, had a lot of printing to get done, so I said I would come in and watch the phones. Late that afternoon the local priest and a good friend of Pat’s came in, shooed me out, and told Tina that Pat’s “gallstones” were really cancer, but not to say anything to anyone (which was a horrible position to put Tina in — please don’t ever do that to someone).
I found out soon enough, so I kept coming back to help out. I was working airport security, and the day my boss lost her contract with the airport, putting us all out of jobs, Pat called me up to her apartment above her shop and told me not to argue with her, but she was putting me on the payroll. “I can’t argue with you, Pat,” I replied. “I just lost my job.”
As Pat got sicker and Tina took another job, that left me not knowing up from down in the screen print world. And then in walked Kevin White, new Western State student and a screen printer with his own shop in Glenwood Springs. Did we need any help?
Ha! Did we need any help. Kevin got put to work immediately. And through the tumult and turmoil that surrounded Pat’s as its namesake got sicker, Kevin kept us up and running. On the day of Pat’s memorial service, Kevin wore a white shirt and tie and stood at the press putting 4’s on our Holy Order shirts, because that was Pat’s number in our “collective,” and we were all wearing the shirts to her service.
School didn’t really suit Kevin in those days, so he left shortly thereafter, and I thought we were done with him and all his help. But that spring I got a very garbled call (way before all these robocalls were so popular) that I couldn’t understand and hung up on. The phone rang again shortly thereafter, and it was Steve, Kevin’s dad, calling to say the first call had come from Kevin.
Kevin, it turned out, had been stopped while driving drunk, and was spending a month as a guest of the Gunnison County Jail. His father really needed him to print shirts for the Strawberry Shortcut, a big race held annually in Glenwood — could Kevin do work release through us, and his father would reimburse us?
And so Kevin came back to Pat’s, briefly, and I learned some of the ins and outs of process color printing, since that’s what he was doing for the race shirts. And then he was gone again, a Lone Ranger whose mission in life, it seemed, was to rescue small print shops, since he did that at least once more, this time in Portland Oregon.
His dad stopped in once, many years ago, to say “hi,” and that’s how I learned Kevin was married and going to an art school in Portland, along with saving another small print shop.
And then yesterday Steve came in again. He is retired from screen printing and insurance sales (although he promptly got put in charge of the soccer program in Newcastle, where he now lives). His wife is still a geologist, and she had work yesterday in the Gunnison area, so his mission yesterday was to stop in and say hi.
Kevin is still married, but now instead of one daughter he has four (two in high school, one in middle school, and a kindergartener). The family moved back to Glenwood over a decade ago, and Kevin now works as a graphic designer for Garfield County, putting together documents and working on the county website.
And, in a fine twist, he and his wife served for 10 years as race directors for the Strawberry Shortcut. What goes around comes around, it seems, at Pat’s.
So while it cuts into the little amount of work I ever seem to manage to get done, it was great to get to know Sam a bit more, socially, and to meet his wife, and it was particularly pleasing to have Steve stop in all these years later and to be able to tell him how much Kevin’s assistance meant to our shop. And it’s always nice to take a moment to remember my friend Pat.
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