There are several commercials of local businesses that are sorely missed by loyal citizens of central Pennsylvania. Suscom’s angry chubby guy got bought out by Comcast’s super fast internet speeds, Lock Haven University put the kibosh on its “You gotta get to the Haven” campaign, Hans Cedardale Satellite mysteriously stopped bringing entertainment down to earth, and most importantly Hanna Auto Mart became Montour Motors, bringing their lucrative TV ad campaign to a screeching halt by refusing any employee the option of borrowing their son’s video camera to shoot some ad-libbed puns about criminally low prices.
One day as I drove past the used car lot now known as Montour Motors, I noticed the old Hanna Auto Mart sign, five foot by three, luminous with reflected sunlight, and just resting against the side of the building. On the spot I decided that it was a cultural heirloom that necessitated immediate protection. Some of the paint had already been worn off by the elements. I had little time.
A posse was assembled of three able bodied youth, including myself. Lou would be our getaway driver, he had just watched the preview clip for Drive where Ryan Gosling silently steals away from the police only to blend into the crowd by putting on a baseball cap; between that and his Dad having just taught him how to drive stick, Lou was feeling particularly confident in his driving abilities. Chuck was the muscle as he was the only one in the group who managed to work out habitually. More than any of us, Chuck is the unsatisfied, fiery one, so the thought of going home right after school seemed to him a certain kind of torture. I was to be the lookout/mastermind/chaincutter. I leveraged my knowledge of the signs location together with the fact that my family owned a big set of bolt cutters to get the cushiest job. The plan in the end was a collaborative effort.
The plan initiated at nightfall when Lou furtively rolled up behind the business in his parents’ 2003 Ford Windstar. Chuck and I deftly exited the vehicle and made our way quick and silent up to the side of the building. We ducked down against the wall. I snuck up to the corner of the building and made sure the coast was clear. All employees had long left the business but cars still drove past on Broad Street. We feared their headlights. We kept a low profile.
I gave Chuck the high sign, scurried back beside him, and opened wide the bolt cutters. I couldn’t help but snicker at the fact that I actually got to use bolt cutters. I pressed the handles together with all of my might. I really flexed down on those handles. My knuckles turned white and my veins popped out and my I grit my teeth until one of my back molars hurt. I stopped with a grunt and backed away, letting the bolt cutters fall to the ground with a clang.
Chuck looked around and then looked at me huffing and puffing.
“Jesus you’re weak.”
“Shut up, I think my tooth chipped.”
Chuck picked up the bolt cutters, took a deep breath and cut the chain shackling the historic sign to a corrupted form of it’s old post. The chain rattled to the ground as well just as a cyclist passed by the car lot.
Chuck and I just stood there like two raccoons spotted rooting through the trash. The cyclist passed by. Chuck picked up the sign and started running with low long strides. I breathed a sigh of relief and followed suit.
We got to the car with little instance and loaded up the sign. Lou had a toothpick in his mouth and his Mom’s leather gloves on. I dramatically whisper shouted “go go go” and the van took off.