A story about our neighbor Jim

A few years ago when we prepared to move the record shop, closing up down the street on, of all days, Record Store Day. Our goal was to reopen by the first of May, giving us just two weeks to move what was later estimated to be 75 tons. I had mentioned this plan to Jim, who lives across the alley from me, a while earlier. When the time came to start working, he would be there every morning when I went to get into the now-legendary Hymie’s van, waiting to start his old pickup truck, which was actually more of a piece of junk than our van.

He’s a delivery guy, apparently one of the best because he’s always on schedule. He works downtown a lot, so he had a few great stories about that during the couple weeks we were moving crates of albums and record browsers and even the jukebox (with the help from the guys from Buffalo Moon). Jim had taken time off to help us, and never really asked for anything in return — the only thing I can remember is that he needed me to record him a CD of Transfiguration by Shawn Phillips, who was one of his favorite artists, because he could only find it on LP.

We don’t see him in the shop too often, although he never misses the block parties that have replaced that Record Store Day ‘moving celebration.’ I do still see him in the alley fairly often, and this was the latest story he told me about driving a truck around downtown:

On sixth street he was waiting at a light and he saw a bird on the street, in the middle of a lane. It was moving a little but it seemed like it was dazed. Cars were actually driving right over it. He pulled his truck to the side on the next block, waited his chance and ran out and grabbed it. Back in his truck he made a nest by dumping out his lunchbox (Jim’s a tall thin dude but he carries the biggest lunchbox of anyone I know). And there the bird rode along with him for the rest of the day, snuggled up in a sweatshirt in Jim’s giant cooler.

When he got home he took the bird out and set it on the grass. They sat together for a few minutes and suddenly the little guy took off, soaring quickly out of sight. He packed up his things and went inside, forgetting about the entire episode because he had big plans that night. He had bought tickets to see Shawn Phillips at the Dakota (this was just last month).

He got back downtown with his wife, just a little later than he’d like, worried he wouldn’t get a good seat. When he got there, though, he was told a pair of the reserved seats had just become available. “Would you them?”

So here’s a guy who really doesn’t spoil himself often, but probably deserves it — he’s been nothing short of a great friend to me. “I have no doubt those two events were connected,” he told me when he finished the story about the bird, and about his incredible seats to see one of his favorite artist.

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