All I’m going to say about the bosses is that they love money. They are a father-son team secretly fighting for control of the company. The father always talks about how he has the Midas touch. He obviously doesn’t know the end of the King Midas story – he’ll find out the hard way. Both father and son look like Lego people with Lego haircuts.

Besides the bosses, the C.E. Oil Tool and Supply Co. is a company of characters.

Conrad’s nickname is “Moose,” and he looks like one. He’s huge. He has a big furry mustache that twitches when he laughs. Conrad is our ace mechanic. When the apocalypse comes, this is the guy I want to be hanging out with. He was born with a torque wrench in one hand and a pneumatic ratchet in the other.

Conrad loves engines and engines love him. When he walks down the street, broken-down cars start up spontaneously and everyone follows him singing “O Hosanna.” His hands are the size of catchers’ mitts. Everyone jokes that before coming to C.E. Oil he was a proctologist. (Maybe for elephants.) Conrad has been with the company 17 years. He isn’t the boss, but he gets what he wants. He guards his toolbox like treasure. To borrow a screwdriver you have to prostrate yourself and plea and swear on your mother’s grave that it will come back and be wiped down. The only thing in the world bigger and more ferocious than Conrad is Conrad’s wife.

While he grew up fixing engines, being a diesel mechanic was not Conrad’s dream. He wanted to be a Navy SEAL like his uncle. He would have been a first-class soldier. What stopped him was having cut, torn or broken absolutely everything in his body by age 18. When he went down to the recruiting station, they ripped up his application. Decades later he’s still trying to get over his broken dream; he just can’t stop thinking about all the stuff he could have blown up.

Conrad loves to talk about his wild days. All of his stories make him seem like Billy the Kid. One of my favorites ends when he tells Willis (his sidekick, apparently) to go wait outside and “shoot the second [expletive] coming out of the bar ’cause the first [expletive] is gonna be me.” Another story recalls when he and Willis once fled from a bar in a getaway car. The law caught them three miles down the road. On a stroke of luck, the officer was Willis’ best friend from high school. He told them to get out of town and lay low for a few months. They found another bar.

When we work together, Conrad is full of advice – lessons in life and explosives. This is the guy that got kicked out of the Boy Scouts for blowing up his scout leader’s briefcase with fireworks. Sometimes he gets serious and tells me advice that his grandmother told him. He tells me, “If our problems were laundry we would share our clothesline with the neighbors, but when it started raining we would take in our stuff and forge the rest.” Conrad has plenty of wisdom, but as far as I can tell he hasn’t put any of it to use. More than likely he will be fixing air compressors in the mechanic’s bay for the rest of his natural life. That’s Conrad.

Stafford is another hand who has been with the company from the beginning. He’s really old. He wears a belt with his name stamped on it. In his back pocket he carries a comb so he can keep his hair slicked back. He looks a lot like Splinter from the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.

Stafford runs the wash slab. As if summertime weren’t hot enough, he has to stand outside all day in rubber boots using a heated pressure-washer. He lives in 100-percent humidity. Whoever gets on management’s bad side has to work with Stafford. He doesn’t talk as much as he cusses and throws things.

I can’t really blame him: I’d probably be angry too if I had been hit twice by lightning. The first time he got hit, he was 10 years old driving a tractor. He says he was unconscious for five days. The second time, he was only unconscious for five hours. I figure he’s developing an immunity to lightning, so the next time he gets hit he’ll only be down for five minutes before popping back up and returning to work.

Whenever a thunderstorm comes through, Staff goes scurrying around the yard like a rat looking for a hole. Meanwhile, Conrad yells from the mechanic’s bay, “GOD DON’T MISS!” Staff’s two front teeth are gold with lightning bolts etched into them. He likes to smack his gums to show off those two teeth. He’s a loose cannon, but Staff always looks out for me. He has a son named Desmond, so he’s very concerned about my safety. That’s Stafford.

Desmond Rawls is a senior in the College and is taking a year off to work as a mechanic for an offshore oil company. He can be reached at Wheelie appears every other Monday on

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