Will Meinen | The Tattler
OMAHA, Neb. — Mark Harmon, claims adjuster for State Farm Insurance, recently segued from a discussion about Martin Luther King, Jr. Day holiday activities and remembrances, into a description of one of his own dreams.
Mr. Harmon and several colleagues were eating lunch at a Lone Star Steakhouse near their office, when they began to share stories of holiday activities with one another. Jim had used the day to catch up on household chores and fix a leaky sink, Steven ran errands and took in the sales at Nebraska Furniture Mart, and Susan cleaned out the hall closet and watched a PBS special on the late, great civil rights leader.
“Dr. King was just such an inspiration,” said Susan while the waitress topped off her large ice tea. “I mean, you would have to be emotionally empty not to be moved by his speech on the Washington Mall. It’s just so powerful and historic.”
“I know what you mean,” said Harmon dipping his roast beef sandwich in Au jus. “But, MLK is not the only one with a dream.”
The abrupt transition was nothing new to the staff at State Farm. At the holiday party this winter Harmon managed to move a discussion about the Christian savior to musings on the career of Aerosmith’s lead singer.
“You know what has been resurrected? The career of Steven Tyler. He’s everywhere now that he is an ‘American Idol’ judge.”
Harmon’s dining companions showed subtle, non-verbal displays of annoyance (eye rolling, exhaling, shifting in posture, poking at food).
“I could have just sat there silently or attempted to change the subject,” said Jim, “but I’ve tried that tactic before and it doesn’t work. We would have taken the long way back to whatever Mark wanted to talk about anyway. So I asked, ‘What’s your dream?’ Seriously though, how can you compare whatever desire you have for your future to a vision of national racial harmony?”
Harmon proceeded to explain to the group for the remainder of lunch and through the splitting of the check, his dream to rebuild a 1966 Chevrolet Corvette with his 15-year-old son, Mark Jr.
“Needless to say he walked step by step through the reconstruction of a model of car that was once owned by his father, thereby increasing the sentimental nature of the project,” said Susan who was sorry she ever brought up the iconic civil rights moment. “I zoned out during the part about intake manifold and crank cases, only to regain consciousness during the Lifetime special scene where Father and Son are forever bonded over their accomplishment. The metaphor of rebuilding a relationship by refurbishing an engine.”
The car ride back to the office moved away from the lunch topic of Harmon’s project that everyone but him knew would be realized.
Steven, riding shotgun, reached over to turn up the radio. From the back came the voice of Mr. Harmon: “You know who else has moves like Jagger?”