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Anyone know "Leif the Thief" great upholstery


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I recall being told by another exceptional trimmer, that Leif's work is considered impeccable - with commensurate pricing-

Old adage - You get what you pay for

'Nuff said?

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Hey Bill

Do you have any pictures of that incomparably magnificent monster flying it’s sidecurtains ? Thanks to you if you can show us !     -   Carl 

 

P.S. I promise I will do this to the curtained car if you give me something to work with 🤗.

 

 

 

3508ABB3-4227-45FB-BD98-90AF12485144.jpeg

Edited by C Carl
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Lief Drexler, he lives in Florida.  He’s retired now, though I heard that someone talked him into doing trim on a car last year.

 

He did beautiful work, with prices that were high.  I could walk up to a car and determine immediately that there was a very good chance he had done the work, it was just perfect.  And, I’m very picky about trim work.

 

I know of one person who was so discouraged by a quoted price from Drexler that he sold the car rather than pay for the upholstery.  I know some of his prices, very high, but it’s like Rick the brass restorer, if you want perfection you have to pony up the bucks....

Edited by trimacar (see edit history)
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Lief was going to do a 1932 Packard Coupe for us until our client realized what it would cost. As Trimacar says if you want perfection you have to pay for perfection. By the hour he was likely no more expensive than most good upholsterers. He just took as much time as needed to achieve perfection.

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Fantastic work can only be done by a select few.............most cars coming out of a restoration shop need 100 hours or more of sorting. Good restoration shops are as rare as the cars they restore. Fantastic restoration shops are so busy they interview the client and the car before they decide to take on the project. True craftsmanship is time and passion..........not money. Money is just the thing that secures perfection. And, by the way, no car is perfect. "We pursue perfection in the attempt to achieve excellence." Vince Lombardi.

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Ed you are correct, nothing is "perfect".  I'd revise my statement about perfection to better say "as close to perfection as one could reasonably expect".  His work was beautiful.  First time I've seen him referred to as "the thief" IN PRINT, I've heard the saying for years.

 

I'm reminded of an ad I saw lately for a Packard sedan, said something like a quarter million dollars spent on an off-frame restoration, yet it did not score "perfect" at the judging, think it was 390 out of 400 points.

 

Even you and I aren't perfect, though I realize that you're darn close of course.....dc

 

 

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56 minutes ago, Restorer32 said:

By the hour he was likely no more expensive than most good upholsterers. He just took as much time as needed to achieve perfection.

I never heard of the man in my life, but having spent most of it in a family business doing bid work I can guarantee you he was working for less for most, if not all, of his career.

Probably wasn’t even minimum wage for the first 30 years....

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2 hours ago, Ben P. said:

I never heard of the man in my life, but having spent most of it in a family business doing bid work I can guarantee you he was working for less for most, if not all, of his career.

Probably wasn’t even minimum wage for the first 30 years....

That may very well be true.

 

I did an upholstery job once for a well to do individual, he came to me through a friend who runs a restoration shop (but his shop doesn't do trim work).

 

Did  it, he was pleased, handed him invoice, he wrote check, all seemed well.  Then, my friend lets me know that the customer thinks I robbed him and was much too high.  I wish the customer had said something to me.

 

Kicker of the story, about a year later get a call from my friend, the guy wants me to do another job for him.  I said wait, he thought I was too high.  Yeah, my friend says, but he really likes the quality of the work you did.....

Edited by trimacar (see edit history)
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8 minutes ago, Ben P. said:

I never heard of the man in my life, but having spent most of it in a family business doing bid work I can guarantee you he was working for less for most, if not all, of his career.

Probably wasn’t even minimum wage for the first 30 years....

I know of one of the best hand made furniture makers in the country. Several generations, this guy has stuff in the White House. I was talking to him about a dining room set they built. A very large table and a dozen or so chairs all hand carved beyond imagination that a living person can achieve that level of craftsmanship. He told the price for the set which seem astronomical, then he said he figured he made about $25 an hour on the job!

 

I would hope that this Leif fellow has given himself the moniker "the thief".   Not very nice for others to do so! Unless he is stealing something, which I doubt.  

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Yep, and the peak of a career like that (and he’s already probably reached it) is when he can start refusing jobs that aren’t interesting to him or that are to the client’s own poor taste. Money however will never be a part of it — he could go out and drive a tour bus and make more.

(Sorry for hijacking the thread, but if it induces just ONE person to be a little more polite when writing the check for the work they asked to be done I consider it a worthy deed. He certainly didn’t put ‘thief’ after his name.) 

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Yes I agree any craftsman that delivers what they have promised for the estimated amount, should not be referred to as a "thief" we should be grateful they help us at all.  I understand the reason for using the term to find the craftsman, but I would prefer you change the title.  With a name like Leif and doing antique car upholstery made a search pretty easy, I think this might be your craftsman.  Wow the internet is crazy, even found his home address he is in Florida.

 

http://www.leifdrexler.com/index.html

 

image.png.265ed906d9cbd221ee65ed3bf3a76dea.png

 

This has to be custom made fabric and windlace?  Most likely 10K+ just in fabric?

 

 

Edited by Graham Man (see edit history)
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4 minutes ago, Graham Man said:

Yes I agree any craftsman that delivers what they have promised for the estimated amount, should not be referred to as a "thief" we should be grateful they help us at all.  I understand the reason for using the term to find the craftsman, but I would prefer you change the title.  With a name like Leif and doing antique car upholstery made a search pretty easy, I think this might be your craftsman.  Wow the internet is crazy, even found his home address he is in Florida.

 

http://www.leifdrexler.com/index.html

I agree as it gives an incorrect impression of the individual.

 

By all the replies, he delivers a high quality product which is labor intensive, looking at the photos, his work is commensurate with what he charges.

 

Craig

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As I mentioned, I've never seen the "thief" moniker in print, and it takes on a whole new meaning in the printed word.

 

I've heard it before, as mentioned, but it was always half joking, as the people knew that, while the charge was high, the quality of the work was superb.  Verbally, it was never really meant to be nasty about him, and I'm sure he's well aware that it's been said about him.

 

Sure makes me glad that no disparaging word that I'm aware of rhymes with "David"!!!!!!

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FYI- two months ago, I fixed a car that had been to five shops and about 36 months of not running correctly. I reluctantly took the job on the condition that if I don’t fix it there is no charge, but my labor rate? 375 an hour. That rate also includes Phil as an assistant and parts chaser..........the other condition was once I start I won’t stop till it’s done. Also, there was no “delivery date”. We had the truck two weeks, the total bill was just over 4500 of which 3800 was labor......just over ten hours. The customer was happy, and when I check with him Friday he said that his next option was to sell the vehicle cheap...........which is why he bought it. No one could make it right. He figured his discount was ten grand minus my bill. So, did I charge too much? I don’t think so, and it IS fixed. I also had the risk of no pay at all if I didn’t fix it .......CORRECTLY.........which includes no check engine light. Fact is a good mechanic or any craftsman has all the work he wants. It’s a dying breed.

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I defy anyone to try diamond-tufting a touring car: buying the leather and horsehair padding, laying out the diamond design so it duplicates the original pattern and size, and then actually doing the work without resorting to plastic foam shaping or sewing the pleats.

 

Horribly time-consuming and you have to make a lot of mistakes (in leather) before you get things right.

 

Whatever someone charges for this work, it's worth every cent. You're paying for the knowledge how to do it, not the labor. 

Edited by RansomEli (see edit history)
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1 hour ago, trimacar said:

As I mentioned, I've never seen the "thief" moniker in print, and it takes on a whole new meaning in the printed word.

 

I've heard it before, as mentioned, but it was always half joking, as the people knew that, while the charge was high, the quality of the work was superb.  Verbally, it was never really meant to be nasty about him, and I'm sure he's well aware that it's been said about him.

 

Sure makes me glad that no disparaging word that I'm aware of rhymes with "David"!!!!!!

 

Trimming by "Dave",

Critics will "Rave"?

 

and,

Referred by Ed,

'Nuff said?

Edited by Marty Roth (see edit history)
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2 hours ago, trimacar said:

Sure makes me glad that no disparaging word that I'm aware of rhymes with "David"!!!!!!

 

Wavy Davy? 😋.........................Bob

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This thread would have been better, never started, it certainly wasn't headed in a positive direction. I am one many satisfied customers of Leif Drexler. I can assure you, that I will never walk by my car and regret the decision to choose him. Quality will always be quality, like one other poster said, I can probably look at any early car, and tell you if Leif did the work. He is a craftsman of the highest capability, and a gentleman to work with. Leif has earned the respect of collectors, who want extremely high quality. I suspect that part of the decision of the buyer to buy the Thomas Flyer was impacted by the quality of the upholstery, along with the overall quality of the restoration. I for one would rather pay more, than have to be disappointed every time I looked at less costly work. The cost of most all of our cars, goes well beyond the reasonable cost of transportation. There was a time when I could only dream of upholstery by Leif Drexler, but now I have one, and will have more.

Sincerely

Richard Williamson  

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Thank you all for your replies. I thought that "Leif the Thief" was a kindly, fond familiar nickname and was not to be meant derogatory. Since this is that I now his name is Lief Drexler, and may use that name, or "Lief the Thief" which meant that his prices were astronomical. So what?

He did a magnificent job on my 1910 Thomas, seats, carpet, top and side curtains. The work is exquisite. I am proud that Lief did the work, and will use his Leif Drexler in credentials when showing. A good friend has a 1908 Lozier and Lief did his upholstery. Also magnificent! You sure get what you pay for when you hire the best. 

My car was a trailer queen for 15-20 years. I have had it redone for touring. So is the Lozier I mentioned. Our cars get driven.

12 hours ago, C Carl said:

Hey Bill

Do you have any pictures of that incomparably magnificent monster flying it’s sidecurtains ? Thanks to you if you can show us !     -   Carl 

 

P.S. I promise I will do this to the curtained car if you give me something to work with 🤗.

 

 

 

3508ABB3-4227-45FB-BD98-90AF12485144.jpeg

Carl, I may not even replace the windshield as I like it open, not too likely to install the side curtains, but you are making me curious as to how it would look buttoned up!

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5 hours ago, Marty Roth said:

 

Trimming by "Dave",

Critics will "Rave"?

 

and,

Referred by Ed,

'Nuff said?

Marty  I would amend your 

Ed to::

 

Fixed by Ed

Nuff said! 
 

I know from personal experience 

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14 minutes ago, CatBird said:

Thank you all for your replies. I thought that "Leif the Thief" was a kindly, fond familiar nickname and was not to be meant derogatory. Since this is that I now his name is Lief Drexler, and may use that name, or "Lief the Thief" which meant that his prices were astronomical. So what?

It might be 'alright' as long as it wasn't in the title of this thread.

 

The issue myself and others have here with his name being wrongly associated as being dishonest lumps this thread with other threads that truly are warnings and heads-up about dishonest individuals who actually are scammers on places like Ebay, et al.  The title paints an improper impression of a highly respected vintage vehicle vendor who does impeccable work.  

 

Craig

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5 minutes ago, 8E45E said:

It might be 'alright' as long as it wasn't in the title of this thread.

 

The issue myself and others have here with his name being wrongly associated as being dishonest lumps this thread with other threads that truly are warnings and heads-up about dishonest individuals who actually are scammers on places like Ebay, et al.  The title paints an improper impression of a highly respected vintage vehicle vendor who does impeccable work.  

 

Craig

 

I agree. The only way to find him was the seller (who died) and son who only knew the nickname. Probably an "in" name by people who knew him, like "good 'ol boys" who make up names for each other and outsiders miss the point.

So, now I know his real name, I will use that and laugh along with the people who knew him and used that LTT name. Yes, I have heard the "comments" from quite a few people, if you knew this man, he probably was fine with the nickname. In any event he has retired and his name is now relegated to anecdotes. The "in crowd" who paid his price and have magnificent upholstery and whether they may still "Leif the Thief" as part of the "In" jokes. Many people will never understand and again, so what?

It is obvious that the crooks and scammers will always be a part of our hobby, and we can drill them and hang them out to dry. 

My other Thomas (1908) has also magnificent trimming. but, sadly I will never know the craftsman as his info was lost in the past along with Wolfgang Gawor who restored my 1908. 

1908 Thomas Flyer-03 (Large).jpg

1908 Thomas Flyer-02 (Large).jpg

IMG_0351.jpeg

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Quality of upholstery is a hard thing to define, it's one of those "know it when you see it" kind of things.

 

I do nice leather work, but I don't like doing button tufting and go out of my way to avoid it.  But, I'm not in the same league as Drexler and some others.  Not in the sense that my work would get points taken off when judged, but in the sense that it's not as perfect as it can be.

 

I did a seminar on trim work at a couple of the AACA meetings.  Here are the pictures that I used to demonstrate different levels of quality.  If I had it to do over again I'd put a question mark after the OK one.  The last two pictures, the WOW one and the biscuit tufted one, show seats done by Drexler. 

 

To me, his work is stunning.  If you go back and look at the first pictures that Bill posted, you'll note the folds over the seat top are all in line and even folded the correct way, folded out starting in the middle.  All the pleats are excellent, all the tufting and buttons are correct and deep.  You see a little roughness in the leather, that's the correct horsehair padding.  Some people put a layer of cotton over the horsehair to make it smooth, but just horsehair was the way it was done when the car was built.

5e.PNG

5f.PNG

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5h.jpg

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19 hours ago, edinmass said:

FYI- two months ago, I fixed a car that had been to five shops and about 36 months of not running correctly. I reluctantly took the job on the condition that if I don’t fix it there is no charge, but my labor rate? 375 an hour. That rate also includes Phil as an assistant and parts chaser..........the other condition was once I start I won’t stop till it’s done. Also, there was no “delivery date”. We had the truck two weeks, the total bill was just over 4500 of which 3800 was labor......just over ten hours. The customer was happy, and when I check with him Friday he said that his next option was to sell the vehicle cheap...........which is why he bought it. No one could make it right. He figured his discount was ten grand minus my bill. So, did I charge too much? I don’t think so, and it IS fixed. I also had the risk of no pay at all if I didn’t fix it .......CORRECTLY.........which includes no check engine light. Fact is a good mechanic or any craftsman has all the work he wants. It’s a dying breed.

Check engine light? What pre war car had a check engine light Ed? Or were you sucked into working on one of them modern computerized contraptions? 😬 Dandy Dave!

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19 minutes ago, Dandy Dave said:

Check engine light? What pre war car had a check engine light Ed? Or were you sucked into working on one of them modern computerized contraptions? 😬 Dandy Dave!

 

 

Sucked in on a modern POS.........which I'm quilified to work on. Most don't know it, but I operated a large modern garage of my own, besides doing pre war stuff at my other shop. I sold cars, had a rental fleet, and three inspection stations. We serviced cars by the hundreds each month. Back when it was fun and there was money in it. I have ASE Master Tech, along with under car, both emission ratings, school bus, ect, ect, ect. Also AC Delco, Honda, and a bunch of other certifications. I just don't work on modern stuff anymore............Sometime ask me about my employer's new Bentley that the dealership couldn't fix(A/C issue) and after ten days at the dealership I went it and fixed it in under two hours. Fact is, there are very few talented technitions today........they are all quickly picked up by the medical field and other high end service industries. The automobile world just doesn't pay enough for the top 1 percent of the guys. Fixing medical equipment pays three times the money, and is 10 percent of the volume. I have friends making 200k that use to be fixing cars........now fixing medical machines. 

 

PS- I don't rate myself as talented. Just competent and experienced. 

Edited by edinmass (see edit history)
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4 minutes ago, edinmass said:

 

 

Sucked in on a modern POS.........which I'm quilified to work on. Most don't know it, but I operated a large modern garage of my own, besides doing pre war stuff at my other shop. I sold cars, had a rental fleet, and three inspection stations. We serviced cars by the hundreds each month. Back when it was fun and there was money in it. I have ASE Master Tech, along with under car, both emission ratings, school bus, ect, ect, ect. Also AC Delco, Honda, and a bunch of other certifications. I just don't work on modern stuff anymore............Sometime ask me about my employer's new Bentley that the dealership couldn't fix(A/C issue) and after ten days at the dealership I went it and fixed it in under two hours. Fact is, there are very few talented technitions today........they are all quickly picked up by the medical field and other high end service industries. The automobile world just doesn't pay enough for the top 1 percent of the guys. Fixing medical equipment pays three times the money, and is 10 percent of the volume. I have friends making 200k that use to be fixing cars........now fixing medical machines. 

I figgured you were suckered in when I saw the check engine light thing. Can't blame you for not wanting to work on that stuff. I pick and choose my self and walk away from most cars or equipment that dont have points and a carbuetor. Or a mechanical fuel injection pump in the case of older diesels. Sometimes for a good friend we do bend over backward. Dandy Dave!   

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2 hours ago, Restorer32 said:

No discussion of exquisite but expensive upholstery would be complete without mentioning the Sharp brothers of Elyria, Ohio.

Did they do the work on our Flower Car that you restored? Great work!

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No, we did that ourselves.  To be fair it is fairly simple. The Sharps upholstered a '21 Ghost we did a lot of work on and the work was as close to perfect as I've seen.  The Ghost we did was the center piece at the unveiling of the new Rolls Royce models at the Four Seasons in NY in about 1966 or so. Prince Philip was the MC and sat in the car.  Dick Prizer, the owner, sat in the car with the Prince and said "He's just a regular guy".

No, we did that ourselves but to be fair that was fairly simple upholstery.  The Sharps upholstered a '21 RR Ghost Touring we did and the work was as close to perfect as I've seen.  Our Rolls was the centerpiece for the unveiling ceremony of the new Rolls Royces of 1996 or so at the Four Seasons in NY.  Prince Philip was the presenter and sat in the car with the owner, the late Dick Prizer.  Dick said "The Prince is just a regular guy".  Amusingly the Sharps made us swear we would not put the top down or touch the side mounts until after the car was done being shown. Won a Senior at Hershey along with the Foo Dog trophy, a National Award.

Edited by Restorer32
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That’s very nice work on the Buick.  Isn’t that an Amish shop?  Some Amish do shallow tufting, due to the methodology they use for dimensions, but that looks deep enough....thanks for posting...

 

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53 minutes ago, trimacar said:

That’s very nice work on the Buick.  Isn’t that an Amish shop?  Some Amish do shallow tufting, due to the methodology they use for dimensions, but that looks deep enough....thanks for posting...

 

Dave

 

Yes he is Amish. It's a one man shop. He also restores horse drawn hearses. Steve's a craftsman. Was recommended to me by Tom Muth and Lump on this forum.

 

I requested horsehair only and that's what he did. 

 

Thanks for the compliment. 

 

Best

Charley

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I-KNEW- I should have found my way into the medical equipment repair?! Due to family backgrounds I got sucked into communication systems contracting. School and I never got along, so no degree on the wall. Trained by real engineers to do the work of a real engineer (not the marketing sort at all!). When it came to complicated fault-finding, or serious waveform phenomenon? I was one of a handful of specialists that other specialists would call after spending two to several days trying to find something, and not finding it. I would start out asking a bunch of questions, then take my own readings and measurements to confirm a few things. A little math, then the hard work began. I used to warn people, that they should expect to see me sitting for awhile. After I made a number of calculations, I would find a spot and stare at (usually a building, sometimes a piece of equipment) for awhile. Never padding the clock. Always visualizing what was done when it was built. What were people thinking at the time, what might have been in the way that they had to work around that we cannot see today. Then a few more tests, calculations. Almost always, within the first day, usually in about four to five hours, I would either literally or figuratively draw an 'X' with a few measurements and maybe an arrow. By the way, twenty years ago, for that kind of work, the company was charging about $160 per hour for my equipment and my time! (Wish I got half of it!) Nine times out of ten, we would get a phone call a couple days later, amazed at how I had found the failure exactly and pin-point perfect. Unfortunately, most of our work was not that specialized, and hourly rates were usually more normal.

 

I have always been proud of a lot of the work I did. However, I eventually grew to hate (a word I don't like to use, but fits here) the communications industry. Real engineers got pushed aside, marketing did all the 'engineering'. Too many promises were made that any real engineer would have known could NOT be kept. But they didn't care. I was disgusted by how often I had to tell customers that they couldn't have what they wanted because it didn't exist! They would blame me because I told them the truth. It rarely helped, but I often told them to go yell at the people that made the promises. If they had asked me earlier, they wouldn't have been lied to. Unfortunately, today, one of the biggest problems in the world is that people like the lies they are told! 

 

Sorry for the drift, and the rant. I do so very much appreciate quality workmanship!

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Maybe it’s just me but I see the pics of what amazing work this man has done and the heading just makes me upset. Other threads have had title changes by the moderators why hasn’t this visually degrading one been changed? I understand it was not meant to be that way but wouldn’t something like 

Anyone know the great upholster known as "Leif the Thief" due to his high cost for great upholstery work. 

be a more politically correct title or at least not a derogatory one? 
it may be in material but it just rubs me wrong. 
dave s 

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I had a lot to say about clients not understanding billing in relation to labor hours spent vs ‘cheaper’ competitors but I see nothing wrong with the title of the thread. (I mean it ‘found’ the guy did it not?)

A nickname within the context it was used over the course of a guys career.... and lord knows when people spend money they like to b*tch anyway. Human nature, says nothing about the guy or his work.

 

But to ease the tension *and I’ll edit this out later*, I’ve always been famous for giving out nicknames that STICK. I’d probably get fired if the right person knew I came up with or used 1/2 of them (or any one of them actually). One guy I called Zippy because he wasn’t — he was as SLOW as he was dim but he was reliable and did good work. One day I had to deliver something to a client and I told her Zippy would be by with something else the following day. She must’ve heard someone else call him that because she said, “Why do you guys call him Zippy?!” I shrugged and said, “Ask him.” (Which to this day I couldn’t tell you why I said that because I honestly didn’t know he knew we called him that.)

Months went by, I totally forgot about it, then I saw her again. She came flying out from behind the desk and really cussed me out for setting her up like that. She was so mad someone else had to tell the story - he came in and was unloading stuff and she asked him, “So why do they call you Zippy?” He stopped what he was doing, stared up at the ceiling, thought a moment, shook his head, then said (slowly), “That Ben... You know, I don’t really know why he calls me Zippy — I’m still not very fast.”

Apparently she started laughing so hard she had to go home because she wet her pants. Yeah, ol’ Zippy really was pretty dim. SLOW as H too. But he was reliable and did good work.

(Though I’d take 10 Zippy’s over one twitt that rushes through work.)

 

 

Edited by Ben P.
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