Log Title: A New Job
Location: Spark Plugs
Summary: Raoul is offered a new, legit job.
As logged by Raoul - Monday, March 11, 2013, 8:56 PM
New York/New Jersey - North America
The Appalachian Mountains begin their trek southward from here, stretching through the Atlantic Coast like a backbone. As you move out of the mountains, the terrain begins to smoothen out, becoming rolling hills before finally flattening into the coastal areas. New York is the most prominent state here, with its urban areas like New York City towering over the rest of New England with steel and concrete structures.
New Jersey, the slightly-deprived sister-state of New York has become known largely as a bedroom community for those that work in New York, but can't afford to live there.
1985: Sparkplug finally is getting his wish. With the help of a very reluctant Roland - he actually is buying an honest-to-gosh garage. However, the goal is mainly to get the Autobots an Eastern base - so - Spark Plugs can't be TOO successful. It needs to be enough to turn a profit so Sparkplug can maybe kick in some cash for Buster - but it can't be a blockbuster and blow the Autobots cover. Fortunately, Tracks told Sparkplug he has a new helper today to handle all the cars damaged in the latest failed ploy by the Decepticons. Raoul - who recently managed to escape some very scary people in NYC - was "asked" to report to Spark Plugs at 10 a.m. sharp. We'll see if he does...
Raoul actually arrives about 15 minutes early, but loiters outside 'til 10.
Sparkplug walks out, seeing Raoul. He grins and extends a hand. "Raoul? 'name's William, but everyone calls me 'Sparkplug." He gestures inside. "C'mon in."
Raoul shakes the rough hand of his new boss.
Spike is in the corner working on one of the vehicles. Sparkplug didn't tell Spike that the brakes are shot. He's hoping he'll figure that out himself once the car is on the lift. Sparkplug looks over at Raoul. "So... had an exciting few days I heard!"
Raoul shakes his head. "You don't know the half of it! It's... getting a little rough out there."
Sparkplug smiles. "Well, you escaped a car theft charge, that's at least good." He looks around and says "Look, my boy and I - we primarily call Mt. St. Hillary home - so I'm looking for a few good hands around here. Tracks says you do some swift thinking on your feet."
Raoul smiles broadly. "Oh, yeah. And I know my way around a car, too!"
Sparkplug gestures "Come into my office." The office - if you could call it that - is a table. The room's windows are all either removed or broken. Something to fix. "Can I get yah a water or soda?"
Raoul smirks, "Water works." Raoul can bring in beer later.
Sparkplug puts a cup over the tap. After a few sickly attempts, a burst of rust-colored water comes out. About 15 seconds later - the water APPEARS clear. He then hands the water to Raoul and sits down and folds his hands. "Look, kid - I won't mince words. I know your rap sheet. And I know what you've done - and to be honest - I'm sure you did that to survive. Hell, when I was in Korea, I fought alongside a person who held up a gas station. Was a helluva gunner."
Sparkplug's face turns serious. "What I need is someone who can do what they're told. Do it fast. And not need my ass around every hour of the day making sure you're doing what needs to be done. No doubt, I'll check in - since it's my name on that marquee - but I gotta trust you - and to be honest - for a mechanic - trusting a car thief - that's askin' for a double-cross. Do I make myself clear, son?" Sparkplug folds his large hands that look like they could crush walnuts.
Raoul nods quickly. "You can trust me, man. I mean, I know the stakes."
Sparkplug studies Raoul. "So, what do you do? And don't give me that shit that 'I can do anything' - only to have me have to come and do a rebuilt transmission. You've already passed the job interview. But I need to know your strengths, son." Sparkplug begins filling out Raoul's tax forms. In addition to a very used dot-matrix printer, there's a computer with a screen that has at least a healthy film of dust and grease. However, a few feet away is a lush, expansive area that is being built by Hoist and Grapple as a base.
Raoul smirks, "Like, with a car?"
Sparkplug looks at Raoul with a stone expression. "..."
Raoul straightens up. "Well, it's mostly self-taught. I can do car maintenance, change brakes - I've not had access to a real garage that often, so I still have some learning to do, but I do learn fast!"
Sparkplug mutters under his breath "that's better..."
Raoul can also disable car alarms and break into both advanced and older cars, but doesn't feel that now's the best time to emphasize that.
Sparkplug then holds up four fingers. "So...son - as you know - we're going to be having a lot of 'guests' come in. Like your friends Tracks and Blaster. And right now - the ONLY people who know these guests are are... (he begins to count down a finger at a time) ...You...Me...My Son, some girl named Carly, and some kid named Chip."
Raoul's smile returns. "Oh, I know how to keep secrets, man. You don't even know!"
Sparkplug gives a frank nod to Raoul. "I'm going to need that number to be constant - so no telling your friends about this place. No bringing your girlfriend..."
Raoul chuckles. "I don't want to bring my friends here, man. A steady job is a nice opportunity, but not exactly something most of my friends will think is cool."
Sparkplug gets up and gestures Raoul to stand, and extends a hand. "Trust me, if you make me happy, I'll make you happy." Sparkplug gives a crooked smile to Raoul. "Sometimes being 'cool' isn't what it's cracked up to be. My brother is 'cool' - but he's also a pot-head, no matter how many teaching awards he wins."
Raoul chuckles, returning the shake.
Sparkplug tilts his head and looks at Raoul. He then fishes in his pocket. "What say... $9.50 an hour? ('86 dollars though!)." He looks at Raoul. "Sound reasonable?"
Raoul dark eyes widen. "Really?" He quickly does some math in his head. "That will average better than I was makin' boostin' cars..."
Sparkplug's face darkens at that remark. He then claps Raoul's shoulder firmly. He then points to a fairly scrawny kid in a hard-hat working on a Malibu. "See that kid over there?"
Raoul looks over at the dork in the hat. "Yeah?" he asks.
Sparkplug says calmly "That's my son. And while you're hired - consider this job your probation. So... no offense, but for a few weeks, I'm going to ask that you don't talk to him. I don't want to hear about you telling him about what you've done to get here, understand?" He adds "Don't think I'm sayin' this because you're Mexican. Hell, your average Mexican can do the work of TWO spoiled Americans and THREE spoiled American teenagers. So don't think I'm sayin' that out of racism. It's because I want him on the straight and narrow. And bein' around a hot shot like you - well - that's an awful temptation, understand?"
Sparkplug looks at Raoul to ensure he 'gets it'.
Raoul looks at Sparkplug darkly, and replies, "I am from Ecuador, but I get your point."
Sparkplug looks at Raoul and shrugs. "Well, those cars aren't going to fix themselves...get to work." He adds "Two 15-minute breaks a day and a 30-minute lunch."
Raoul smirks. "Sure thing. And I'll try not to teach your son to smoke during those breaks."
Sparkplug gives Raoul one of this trademark 'looks' and goes back to doing paperwork.
A few hours later, with Sparkplug having lunch with Roland, Spike sees Raoul from the other side of the room. Spike manages a shy smile and stops what he's doing and walks over to make some friendly chit-chat. He grins at Raoul. "Boss is kind of a hardass, huh?"
Raoul grins to himself, and gets to work, applying himself with 'new job' vigor and doing his best to stay away from Spike, even if it does mean he looks like an ass for blowing off the friendly teenager. After a bit, Raoul finally looks up at Spike. "Yeah. He catches me standin' around chatting, I'll get fired."
Spike shrugs "No he won't - trust me - I mean...yeah, he doesn't want to see you slouchin', but he's not going to fire you for THAT." He extends a hand. "'name's Spike. You're Raoul, right?"
Raoul smirks, "Yeah." Raoul ignores the hand and turns back to what he's doing.
Spike looks in what Raoul is doing. He clears his throat. "Uh - you probably want to use a different wrench set for those stripped bolts -"
Raoul looks up at Spike, frowning. "I got it."
Spike smiles. Maybe his vast knowledge of mechanics will make him see cool in Raoul's eyes. Spike says, "I know I'm just..." He pauses, and then sighs. "So...uh - ridin' in Tracks is pretty bad, huh?""
Raoul says, "You're just interruptin' me while I'm trying to work." Raoul does, however, switch to a different wrench set.
Spike doesn't say anything, but stands there. He watches Raoul work. That's not how dad taught him now. "Uh..dude... it's a lot easier if you remove that from it's underside..." He smiles. "You like Van Halen? I'm...I think David Lee Roth - no one can beat him, but who knows, maybe Sammy Hagar will be OK.""
Raoul stops what he's doing to look at Spike. "Look, kid, I appreciate you tryin' to help and to be all friendly-like, but I don't want to get caught schmoozin' with the boss's son, OK?"
Spike frowns and looks at Raoul. "Awright, Jeez!" The horribly naive 15-year old turns around and heads back to his workstation, muttering "all I was doing was..."
Raoul smirks, "You go work over there, and I'll work over here, and it'll be OK, OK?"
Spike turns around and frowns. "Fine - whatever!"
Raoul smirks, "Good."
Spike goes back to working, muttering to himself "Dad says make friends with my own species...I do - and I get my head bitten off!"
Raoul turns back to his engine. He quiets a sigh. He's really good at rationalizing negative behavior, but he still feels bad.
Quittin' time. Spike's nowhere to be seen, but Sparkplug is. He walks to Raoul, examining the car he's working on.
Sparkplug nods in satisfaction. "Not bad...not bad..." He grins. "Way to remove those stripped bolts." He looks at Raoul. "So...you comin' back tomorrow?"
Raoul smiles boldly. "Sure, man. If you don't mind me doin' too good of a job and stealin' all the work from the other guys." Maybe that wasn't the best choice of words...
Sparkplug frowns. He then says "My...son... says you were kind of an asshole to him."
Raoul shrugs. "You told me to stay away from him, man. I can't be nice and stay away at the same time -- unless you want me tellin' him, 'Your Dad doesn't trust you to make your own friends.'" Raoul stares challengingly at his new boss.
Sparkplug frowns at the cocky Raoul and reaches into his tool belt and pulls out a $20. "Christ, don't get so defensive kid - I was just going to give you a bonus for followin' orders."
Raoul raises his dark eyebrows. "A bonus for bein' a dick to your kid? You're a strange man, but I'll take it." Raoul holds out his dark, newly-oil-stained hand.
Sparkplug doesn't flinch and shakes Raoul's hand. "See yah tomorrow - 8 a.m. sharp."
Raoul grins. "I'll be here!"
Spike continues to work on Pontiac Sunbird, trying not to let his pissed-off angst affect his work.
Raoul takes the money and heads out... the liquor store is probably still open!
Spike looks on seriously under the hood and fiddles with the timing chain, threading it in the right place and ensuring all 'teeth' are properly secured. Spike rubs the tired from his eyes. Long flight back to Oregon soon to the Ark - the perfect spring break spot for any geeky kid. Spike looks around at the very empty garage. "DAD?!" he calls out. Spike begins to get his gear ready for the ride back home.
Sparkplug returns to the garage, turning off lights and locking doors as he goes.
Spike looks over at his dad. "Heyah...can you see if I did this timing belt OK before we take off?"
Sparkplug grins broadly, with pride. "Sure, son! I'll be happy to take a look." Sparkplug grabs a light, and peers over the engine, inspecting Spike's work.
Spike looks at the Sunbird. He frowns slightly, "Not that's a big deal or anything, but the new employee's kind of an asshole." Spike mutters under his breath "Thinks he's sooooooooo cool with that pony tail."
Sparkplug chuckles. "Yeah, that Raoul... I won't worry about it."
Spike tries to smile, but still handling rejection the way a typical teenager would. He looks on in concern, hoping he did OK. Spike says, "I'll just be glad to get back home."
Sparkplug nods. "That's right. You did good work here. I wouldn't worry about these local kids. Maybe sticking with Bumblebee isn't so bad an idea after all."
Spike grins. Any endorsement of the Autobots is good in his book - keeps him in the Ark and not in military school. "Still... how do you like it, pops? You always said you wanted a garage!"
Sparkplug looks around the new digs. "I like it. It's not what I expected, but... it feels good. Even have my name on the door, sort of."
Spike shrugs. "Well, when the Autobots leave Earth - maybe you can like... increase its profile or something'"
Sparkplug grins. "Well, I was hopin' eventually for a better name... maybe Sparkplug & Sons?"
Spike grins. "Woah! I haven't heard that like since I was...five!"
Sparkplug chuckles. "Well, we have the space... we have the backing... why not? I'll let you teach your brother how to change oil, though," he teases.
Spike makes a face.
Sparkplug laughs heartily, releasing a lot of stress that's accumulated while setting up a new business, even (especially?) with the Autobots' help.
Roland did indeed do Sparkplug good. The business name is set up under Roland's friend, but tax purposes, Sparkplug is the owner - albeit in a SLIGHTLY different namesake. Call it a typo.
Spike gets up. "All right, let's blow this popsicle stand - at least Chip and the Autobots will actually talk to me without biting my head off!"
Sparkplug ehs, "I'll talk to him about being more polite, but he's not someone you really want to get involved with, anyway."
Spike frowns slightly "Why not?" He adds "Dad, not everyone is as fortunate as we are - maybe he HAD to steal those cars to like... I dunno... maybe someone was chasing him down and he had to get away!"
Sparkplug chuckles. "That's not how Tracks tells it."
Spike grins. "Oh? And what's Track's side of the story?"
Sparkplug grins. "Well, according to Tracks, Raoul wanted to steal him because he was, and I quote, 'The most beautiful car on Earth.'"
Spike 's eyes widen. "NO WAY!" He looks at his dad "And...you're hiring him? What's going to happen when you're back at the Ark?!"
Sparkplug chuckles. "Well, I think Tracks may have been exaggerating, but still... he's not the best influence. I think he's got a good heart, but I want you to promise me you'll keep clear of him, OK?"
Spike opens his mouth and protests earnestly "But you just said he had a good hear - "
Sparkplug interrupts, "He has potential, but right now, no interaction. Understand?"
Spike rolls his eyes and mutters "Yes sir..."
Sparkplug grins. "Good boy. Now let's go get you a soda!"
Spike flinches at that last remark, now feeling even more like a kid!
Sparkplug asks jovily, "Want pizza tonight?"
Spike grins, brightening up, although imagining what people like Raoul are doing tonight, probably not having dinner with their pops. "Sure - it's New York - you think we'll find a pizza place 'round here?" Spike looks on serious as he goes with his dad for pizza. Sure, his dad's his idol - but at age 15, he's starting to feel more and more like a kid with dad's 'soda' comments. But he lets it slide. "I don't think Optimus Prime would like Raoul..."
Sparkplug chuckles. "Not if he succeeds in stealing away his Autobots..."
Spike looks at his dad as they're walking the streets of New York. Right now, it looks like every kid has a friend next to him. Him - it's his dad. But he appears unphased. "So, we fly out tomorrow?" Spike comes in the day he and dad are supposed to fly out. He spots Raoul and a frown immediately forms. Spike tries to put on the most badass expression he can without trying to appear like a badass. He approaches Raoul and taps him on the shoulder. "Heayh..."" Spike, the 15-year-old frowns to the 19-year old who a few days ago was almost killed by the New York Mafia.
Raoul turns around in surprise. "Hey!" he replies, starting to smile.
Spike keeps his frown. "Look, I'm going to work for a bit, but just wanted to let you know - Tracks...even Blaster - feel free to be friends with them, either of them are cool - but stay away from Bumblebee...he's the one with the yellow Volkswagen...understood?"
Spike gives a hardened frown at Raoul. At this point, Raoul could very well challenge the kid or laugh, or play along.
Raoul raises his dark eyebrows, looking a bit confused. "Uh sure, man. No problem."
Spike nods. "Good..." He looks around and then says "Well... I'm going to finish up the Sunbird."
Raoul smirks, "Ok... good luck." Raoul heads to his own car. Strange kid.... but, what can you do?
Spike walks to his station, smiling to himself. He sure put Raoul in his place.