I’ve been thinking of starting a series of regular “on location” nudges. Since I had to take my car in for basic service today, I decided to start with a nudge from the customer lounge of Kings Toyota in Mason, Ohio.
Since this is my first attempt at this, I’ll probably have to work out some bugs, including how this is supposed to “nudge” you. Today, I’m going to provide a description of the site; see what you can make of some or all of the elements in a written piece of your choice.
The room itself is spacious and accommodating. I’m seated at a lower round table that seats four, although I’m by myself. There are also high tables (I’m always afraid I’m going to fall off one of those tall chairs, and at 4’11”, it’s not easy to climb up there anyhow). There are also upholstered armchairs and sofas, the latter set up in front of a big screen TV on the wall. The TV is tuned to one of the March Madness basketball games. Along the same wall are several cubby seats with screens and keyboards; this area is labeled the “business center.”
Everyone has that air of calm but bored resignation as they wait for their repairs. There’s no talking among customers; everyone is immersed in his or her own magazine, computer, or the game on TV. Any conversation comes when a representative comes in from the garage to announce a repair is finished or to explain that more repair is needed to one unlucky soul’s auto. A loud voice intrudes from the Cashier desk in the hall.
Now President Obama is on television discussing the crisis in Libya.
NUDGE POSSIBILITIES: Explore the options of this location. Write from the perspective of a character: The black woman with the silver purse talking on her cell phone. The older gentleman sitting at a tall table with his newspaper, his black nylon jacket hung over the back of his chair. The middle-aged woman in the yellow fleece windbreaker who appears to be reading her novel (perhaps she isn’t, really). Two men in casual business attire standing behind the black upholstered couch, watching President Obama’s address with arms folded across their chests.
If you write fiction, set up a situation: A character worries she’ll have an expensive repair and she doesn’t know where she’ll get the money to pay for it. Two characters of differing backgrounds get into a heated political discussion about President Obama or Libya. The elderly gentleman on the tall chair becomes ill and falls the long way to the ground. Or make up your own characters and place them in such a setting.
Or use this scene to trigger memories of one of your own car repairs. Think about a particular interesting, or annoying, character from that experience, either another customer or an employee of the garage. Describe a “lounge” that differs drastically from the one in which I sit: Maybe it was only a dirty bench next to a broken cola machine with a floor so greasy you had to clean your shoes before you climbed into your car.
Waiting rooms of any kind are rich with nudge possibilities for your writing. Let this nudge take you where it will.