I was supposed to be there about between 5 and 5:15pm. It was my 2nd week at my new job and since we were in training, my days were ending at 4:15pm. So i went ahead and said i could get to Claremont in probably 45min but allowed myself that buffer to 5:15pm.
It being Los Angeles, of course that was not going to happen. First, on the way to the freeway, i chanced upon a train, a long one with 7 engines in the front. While that train was passing, another long one came and they were running parallel in opposite directions - this did not look safe at all and all of us waiting, stalled, held our breaths to observe what likely was to be an oncoming catastrophe. Being at the front of the pack, i had the best view and it was triple digit decibel loud. The original train slowed and then stopped, allowing the 2nd train to pass. And once the other train had cleared, the first train started up again and left. It took about 15min.
Then the LA freeways. I don't drive the 10 freeway east much but boy it is not fun. The 10W to Santa Monica is certainly worse, by far, but at least there is the beach to look forward to. I texted Richard a couple times to let him know of my progress. Luckily, he seemed to be enjoying walking around downtown Claremont.
Downtown Claremont is quite a treat. It is not a heavily marketed, fabricated, trendy chain store commercial fakery; itstead, happily, it is a picturesque and pure holdover from the past. I found a cozy parking spot and began walking to the store. Another pedestrian had touched down from asphalt to sidewalk virtually simulataneously. I began: "You wouldn't happen to be Richard Polt? Because you look like him." The man said "Michael?" As i approached it became clear that he was extremely tall. I had to ask, i do not remember if it was immediately but it came within the first few sentences to be sure: "How tall are you? 6'4?" - i knew he was taller than that but i did not want to guess too tall. "I am 6'7" - i guess i never really pictured really tall people used typewriters - my imagination was limited: of course, anyone can use a typewriter.
Then the pleasantries and small talk, but once the typewriter talk began it was instant friendship. We then set our sights on the prize.
Richard had emailed about checking out this rare machine. I had actually seen this posting for months earlier but did not pursue it because gold is a bit too tacky for me.
The door did not open. The sign said closed.
Was our adventure to end prematurely, and that, in a staggeringly, painfully, and unfairly silly way as 1 inch of brittle wood? The door whose threshold we were to pass in order to enter the typewriter dimension.
We questioned and answered and validated ourselves: we had both earlier confirmed that the shop closed at 6pm. We had more than 20min before the deadline.
With disaster upon us, we, being quickthinking typewriterheads, walked next door hoping that this shop had the same owner... no dice. On the sidewalk was our moment of truth. We found the number and called them. Sweat began to ooze out of pores and collect, a bead dropped quickly to the floor - exactly down to where our disappating hope was headed towards.
The call was answered and the other end needed some incentive to come back and re-open the shop. She sounded like she almost wanted a promissory note. I may have overcommitted a bit to my interest in the typewriter but it got us in.
Once inside, Richard's nose found the typewriter right away and he began testing the bejesus out of it. I walked around and made some small talk with the proprietor, who we later found out was the proprietor's niece.
There were some other typewriters among the vintage junk (yes, i am being unkind - but my only interest is typewriters anyway) - but they were all nauseatingly overpriced. Back to the the reason of all this...
Richard said it was in excellent shape. I took my turn at testing it, more so customarily as obviously Richard's determination is official and decidedly more reliable than my opinion. But seriously, this SM3 had some snappy ass action and butter smooth carriage, perhaps better than the eBay-advertised "Fully reconditioned" SM4 i had brought in the trunk of my car.
The next part is a bit unclear to me. It's the transition of how this typewriter became Richard's to mine to purchase. I completely deferred to him because it was certainly his idea to visit this typewriter. Thinking back now, i believe i recollect that perhaps he saw the joy i had in trying out this typewriter. It is an unbelievable typewriter, you know. Regal.
He said he had one already and wanted to give me the chance to have one of my own.
Either way, i believe that one of us was going to walk out with this machine - no way we were going to leave it there for someone else.
I tried to bargain with the lady and charm her and appeal to her business side but she stone cold stonewalled me. Even calling her aunt who owned the store fell on deaf ears. They said they knew that it was a rare typewriter so they would not lower the price. They would however let us purchase tax-free if we paid in cash.
Suddenly we are walking to the ATM. With Richard generously insisting on contributing $20 to the purchase of this machine.
The rest of the afternoon turning evening continued the fun. Dinner at a real diner and then some typewriting with a new dear friend. And a magnificent new typewriter.
BTW - thanks to Richard for lending me the above 2 pics.