Thursday, July 20, 2006

The art gallery owner, the auto mechanic and a drive shaft diagram

So, an auto mechanic walked into an art gallery. He was looking for something to hang on the walls of his garage. As he entered, other shoppers looked strangely at him because he smelled bad, and had a suspicious oil spot in an unfortunate location of his trowsers.

After looking around for awhile, the mechanic approached the gallery owner and explained exactly what he was looking for. The gallery owner listened intently, scratched his head, then set off to fetch just the right piece.

Within just a few minutes, he returned with a detailed diagram of an automobile drive shaft. The auto mechanic clapped his hands and smiled wide. “That’s exactly what I wanted,” he said. “Except I didn't like the wooden frame or the way the drive shaft had been cropped.” The gallery owner reframed the drive shaft in shiny metallic gold, and cropped it slightly different than before.

The auto mechanic clapped his hands and smiled wide. “That’s exactly what I wanted,” he said. “Except now I’d like the drive shaft diagram flopped backward, upside down.” Once again, the gallery owner obliged him.

The auto mechanic clapped his hands and smiled wide, however, he made several more requests. In addition, the auto mechanic wanted to own the copyright to the drive shaft diagram — afterall it was his idea to have the drive shaft diagram reframed, recropped, and flopped backward. Frustrated, the gallery owner asked the mechanic to leave his store, all deals off. Besides the fact that he was getting on the gallery owner's nerves, the mechanic had an irritating voice, like he had a chicken bone caught in his throat, and never bothered upchucking it out.

Well, that auto mechanic really wanted that drive shaft diagram, so he didn’t leave, but instead kept pressing the gallery owner. Finally, the gallery owner agreed to sell the diagram "as is" for practically nothing; he just wanted that weird mechanic out his store before his other customers got scared off -- all of them weary of auto mechanics anyway. The gallery owner tried to explain that the diagram was for sale, to be hung on his garage wall, but that he couldn't own a copyright, even if it was his idea to frame it in gold metalic. What was this guy’s problem? Was he some kind of a doofus?

Well, the auto mechanic finally accepted the terms, wrote a check and paid the gallery owner. Then he left the art gallery, and drove back to his garage, two counties away.

But, once he got back to his garage, and realized the gallery owner was serious (he had written a little reminder on the back of the diagram), he called his bank and stopped payment on that check. He couldn't accept the truth that one can't own a copyright on art created by someone else, unless given permission to do so by its creator.

Several days later, that stopped-check wreaked havoc on the gallery owner’s bank account. Top it off, that dang auto mechanic refused to return the drive shaft diagram. "First, you must reimburse my costs for stopping that check, then you must send me money to ship it. Then you must sign a contract promising that you won't sell that drive shaft diagram — golden framed, recropped, and backward — to anyone else, ever again!" the auto mechanic threated. Now, ain't that a trip? I guess he didn’t realize that the gallery owner didn’t get many requests for golden framed drive shaft diagrams anyway.

Well that gallery owner was fit to be tied. He never had a problem like that before. Most of his patrons were nice little old librarian ladies, second-grade students, and an occasional publishing company executive. Not knowing quite what to do, he called one of them big-time lawyers and explained the whole situation. "At this point, Mr. Lawyer, all I want is my drive shaft diagram back, and reimbursement of damages to my bank account," he tells the big-time lawyer.

"First of all," The big-time lawyer tells the gallery owner. "This is not just a matter for your bank, but a matter for the authorities. That auto mechanic's actions, in the eyes of the law, were criminal offenses. “In essence,” the big-time lawyer explained. “That mechanic walked into your gallery and stole that diagram off your wall, and, now, he's committed extortion (to obtain from a person by force, intimidation, or undue or illegal power).

Sadly, the gallery owner never did get back his drive shaft diagram, and he's still stuck with that bum check, as well as several overdraft charges. Thank goodness, though, the police agreed with that big-time lawyer.


rindawriter said...

Did something happen with some of your artwork?

I hope you are okay!

Chris Barton said...

And I thought I wrote in code...

Kim said...

Bummer. Is this part of the reason your wife had a bad week last week?

Loved the way you told the story. I hope everything works out!

Varian Johnson said...

Good story. Too bad the ending sucks. I hope things work out for the Gallery owner.

It's funny, something very similar happened to a structural engineer I know that was trying to get paid for a technical paper he wrote for a small southern municipality....

Melinda said...

Tell me the name of that auto mechanic and I'll drive one of those 34-ton earthmovers through his wall. Then I'll steal his stamp collection.

ShellyP said...

That sucks.