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Guest Column

Dem Boids

By Arnie Silverman

March 23 was Swallows Day in San Juan Capistrano. The celebrated, annual arrival of hirondelles (swallows to youse guys) may not be quite the exciting event that San Juan Capistrano promoters would like you to believe. When I had an office in Anaheim, with the improvement in service and my ability to advantage myself of really favorable fares for senior citizens (the world’s greatest “39-year-old” racquetball player admits to being in that category), I took to commuting in comfort on Metrolink several times a week.

I usually caught the “5:58” from San Juan Capistrano, and with a free bus ride from the Anaheim station to our building next to City Hall in Anaheim, arrived at my then office at 7 a.m. It was terrific. I read my LA Times or a book on the train, and after the bus ride, entered the office ready to do battle. The service was “Deusche” punctual, and the cars were clean. It was a great deal. The only reason I did not use it five days a week was that on workout/racquetball game days I drove to work.

A later train

On this particular day, I awakened quite tired from a brutal three games with a 22-year-old the night before. I won but felt the consequences. I decided to take the “7:01” instead of the regular “5:58.” Now, usually when I arrived at one of the town’s parking lots at the earlier time, mine was one of the first cars there. I could usually pick any spot I wanted. Not that day, however. The lot was full, and I had to drive around the area until I found a place. I did. It was on a street directly across from the lot, adjacent to an empty field. There were no trees, just the grassy field. I hurried to the station just as the northbound train arrived, boarded, and relaxed on the way to the office.

That evening the “6:10 p.m. southbound” glided into Anaheim Station right on time.  On my homeward bound trip I read my latest “read.” It occupied me seemingly for just minutes to the San Juan station. As I stepped down from the rail car, I hurried to beat my fellow passengers to the parking area. Everyone leaving the train at the same time caused a traffic jam even there. I pulled ahead of the crowd, somehow “made” the traffic light on Camino Capistrano (I was batting 1 for 30 beating that damned light), and headed to my beautiful, classic car. 

A nasty surprise

I was aghast. There it was, covered from one end to the other in slimy, dirty, disgusting, bird excrement. Now that car of mine was a 1978 Mercedes 300 CD. With its shiny blue sheen, its proud emblem pointing the way, and its truly classic, almost autocratic lines, it was one hell of a looker. I mean this baby was almost a family member. I had had it for some 16 years and ultimately put over 380,000 miles on it.

As I carefully climbed in, trying desperately to find an uncontaminated spot, I almost threw up looking through those front windows. It was truly revolting. Why this particular auto I do not know. I must have parked near a nesting area or maybe the flock just did not like the shade of blue. The crazy thing was that mine was the only one bombarded.

Gagging and barely able to see, I drove home. Instead of entering the garage, I parked near the garden hose at the side of the house. Without regard to chipping any paint, I hard-sprayed from front to back. An old towel applied vigorously helped remove the more stubborn deposits. However, scrub or not, the entire surface remained stained.  Wet and disgusted, I gave up. In the morning (a Saturday) I drove to a car wash to finish the job.  It took three run-throughs to eliminate all of the mess. From that day on, I took the earlier train.