Sunday, September 23, 2018
Riding a Divvy down lake street earlier this summer, I passed the Reliable Plating Corporation, 1538 W. Lake.
I paused, straddling the bike, and took this photo. Why? I thought the scene beautiful, the compressed, san-serif letters, the quiet insistence of the word, the interplay of faded red brick and beige concrete, the machine age entryway, with those metal doors and round windows, like a robot's face.
Then there was the business itself. The metal plating industry just doesn't get into the paper much, so I phoned the company. Maybe I could come visit? Write a little story to go with my portrait of their business face.
I called a few times. People don't call back anymore.
Eventually I reached a person in authority. No, sorry. No interest. Couldn't get off the phone quick enough.
As the line went dead, I thought of saying: someday, your business will be gone, and you'll be gone, and I'll be gone. Only the story I would have written might remain. Don't you care about that?
Only that probably wouldn't have helped, and I didn't say it.
So no story. Only this, the shadow of a story never written.
And a phantom ache. I suppose it stung, a little, to be scorned by an obscure metal plating company. Like what I'm doing is dirty. I'm sure they had their reasons. All those metal-plating chemicals, where do they go when they're done with them? Down some sewer perhaps? I shouldn't speculate. Sour grapes.
But I will trot out the photo, and the concept of reliability, on this, the day after the last day of summer. I didn't want to write a post, frankly. But I squeezed one out, a dyspeptic, carping thing that I instantly knew was never going to see the light of day.
Being a professional means you know when your stuff isn't up to par. That's not a general indictment. Even noble Homer dozed. Sometimes I write a sentence, a column, and sit back and think: That doesn't work.
So we will try again, no inspiration needed — inspiration is for amateurs, I like to say, and though this blog isn't really a commercial affair, it is a commitment I made when I titled it. You expect me to be here, and here I am. Heneni, as Moses says to God. Reliable.
There, that works. And if it doesn't, it will have to do for today.