I googled for a welder and found Randy. Contrary to my expectation, the address in the listing was not for a shop but a private home in a shady neighborhood at the edge of town. It turned out Randy operated his welding business from his garage.
The split-level house was old, shabby and showed an obvious lack of care. The lawn was shaggy, strewn with dead leaves and brown pine cones. The few decorative bushes near the doorstep were covered with dust and in dire need for pruning.
Rock music was blaring from the opened garage. Cobwebs lined the door frame, piles of disused tools and electrical cords cluttered the floor, all lying mute under a thick layer of hoary dirt.
Randy set up his workstation at the back of the room. A medium-sized man in blue jeans, worn flannel shirt and a red bandanna that covered most of his sandy hair, he looked fiftyish with a slightly lined face and pasty complexion. I explained what I needed then started looking around, spurred by the thing that killed the proverbial cat.
Everything about and around Randy told me he was a lonely man. There was that look of mild desolation permeating the whole place, and Randy fitted right in with his appearance that showed some half-hearted attempt at care. In one corner of the garage, under the ubiquitous layer of dust, stood an old stained drum kit with cymbals spotted with rust. As if reading the question in my mind he said he used to belong to a rock band.
"What happened to your band?" I asked.
"Broken up and gone, like all good things are," he replied.
There was a faint timbre of resignation in his voice. Better change the subject.
"Business been good?" I asked.
"Very slow lately," he replied. "It has its ups and downs though."
"Like everything else in this world," I said.
"Exactly," he heartily agreed.
His job done, I paid and left, feeling moody. Would I end up like Randy, ten or twenty years from now? He was being philosophical about it, but the fact remained that he was lonely and living in a dump with a broken dream.