Mike ErvinThe garage where I get my van fixed is named after the two guys who have owned and operated it for going on 40 years. For the purposes of this tale, I feel compelled to give them aliases. So I will call them Nietzsche and Kierkegaard.

Nietzsche is older, grayer. He walks more upright than Kierkegaard. He appears to be the alpha. He’s the tense one. Kierkegaard is more soft-spoken and sleepy-eyed. He’s more the sidekick type. Both come from the meat-and-potatoes, white, working-class culture of Chicago’s southwest side.

It used to be when I arrived that Nietzsche would come out to greet me. He’d conduct the diagnosing while Kierkegaard looked on over his shoulder. But lately, Kierkegaard deals with me while Nietzsche stays holed up in the cramped office. When I call and Nietzsche answers, he immediately hands the phone to Kierkegaard.

What’s with Nietzsche’s cold shoulder? I’m pretty sure it’s my bumper stickers. I’ve long suspected him of being a guy who listens to right wing radio. Even when he was young he was curmudgeonly. The two things he complains about the most are the Chicago Bears and how the government strangles little guys like him with all the damn taxes and fees so now he’ll probably never get to retire.

And my bumper stickers reveal me to be the kind of hippie, pot-smoking, commie, fetuscidal, atheist maniac that people who listen to right wing radio think are ruining America. Rahnee, my wife, stuck the first sticker on a few years back. It says, WHAT A LONG, STRANGE TRIP IT’S BEEN. That one seems innocuous to the naked