Years ago, I had three stories from my life posted on Wifcon.com and they picked up a small following on the internet. Since I usually add something from my life around Christmas to Wifcon.com, I thought I would add one of those three stories. So here is, as it happened: Just Call Me Johnson!
In the 1970s, when I first moved to the Washington D. C. area, I lived in Greenbelt, Maryland. Although Greenbelt is actually a small town, it is also one of those "areas" located around Washington that is a larger postal area. Even now, I live in one of those postal areas in Pennsylvania.
The Greenbelt area surrounds the major intersection of Kenilworth Avenue and Greenbelt Road. Looking north, if you imagine this intersection as creating four geographic areas, the small town of Greenbelt would be located in the upper right hand area. Within the town was a small shopping center called Greenbelt Plaza. In the upper left area of the intersection, a larger shopping center called Beltway Plaza was located. Our story begins at Beltway Plaza.
One day, I took my car to a garage to have some repairs done. In the afternoon, I realized that I needed to cash a check to pay for the work. From past experience with the car shop, I knew that the shop did not take the American Express card. So I walked from my apartment to Beltway Plaza where my bank was located. I arrived at the bank shortly after 2 PM. The lobby service had closed at 2 PM so I stood in line behind a car waiting to cash a check. When my turn came, the teller told me that I could not cash my check at her window because I was a pedestrian. I needed a car or some other vehicle.
Knowing I needed a car or some other vehicle, I walked over to a phone booth in Beltway Plaza and called a cab. I reached the cab company and ordered a cab for Antonio at Greenbelt Plaza. After waiting for about 10 minutes, I realized that I had ordered the cab for the wrong shopping center. So I called the same cab company and ordered a cab for Johnson at Beltway Plaza. That was simple enough. Give them a different name and no one would ever know the mistake that I had made. I was in no mood to admit my mistake.
Well, my cab arrived fairly quickly. That was too good to be true. I flagged the cab down. "Are you Antonio?" the driver asked. "No, I am Johnson." I told him. Immediately, he began questioning me about my name. "Are you sure you are not Antonio?" He again asked. "No, I am Johnson." I told him again. "Well, I am here for Johnson too." The cabbie said. "Did you receive a call from Antonio to meet you at Beltway Plaza?" I asked. "Yeah." The cabbie said.
All I could think of was this cabbie made the same mistake that I did. I ordered a cab for Antonio at Greenbelt Plaza and this guy shows up looking for me at Beltway Plaza. Well, he was here and I was not going to admit that I was Antonio. "Where to?" He said. "Over to that bank." I pointed. "Why do you need a cab to go to the bank?" He asked. So now I had to tell this guy the other part of my experience in the Beltway Plaza parking lot. After I explained that I could not cash a check because I was a pedestrian and I needed a car, he seemed to understood my plight. As we were sitting waiting for the line to move, the driver turned around to me and asked again "Are you Antonio?" "No, I'm not Antonio." I shouted. "I am Johnson." I told him. So we waited in line for my turn at the teller window.
It was my turn in line and I looked at the teller with satisfaction and said "I've got a car now. Here is my check." Then I tried to remember if bank tellers say thank you after they cash a check. Well they do. At least this one did. "Thank you, Mr. Antonio." She said. The cabbie immediately looked around at me and said "There, I told you that you were Antonio." "No, she said Johnson." I yelled. "I'm Johnson, not Antonio." I added to make my point. We finally pulled out of that parking lot and stopped at a red light on Greenbelt Road. The cabbie again turned around. This time he said "you sure do look like Antonio." "How do you know what I look like?" I answered. For the next 15 minutes of the cab ride we had these continuing spats about whether I was Antonio or Johnson.
Finally, we reached the car dealership. I paid the cabbie and as he drove away he shouted "Antonio." I shouted back. "Johnson." I walked in the car shop and told them I was Johnson. "Nothing here for Johnson." She said. "Could you check for Antonio?" I asked, now wondering if they would give me my car. As they were preparing the bill, I noticed that there was an American Express emblem on the garage window. "Do you take American Express?" I asked. "Yes, we just started taking it last month." She said. My entire day passed before my eyes when she said that. "How would you like to pay for this?" She asked. "American Express." I responded. After I signed my name she said, "thank you Mr. Antonio." At least the cabbie was not there to hear it.