Friday, October 5, 2012

The Rebounder Story

                                                         The Rebounder Story
                                                               A true story
                                Written 9/14/2012 and rewritten 03/30/2016 unedited
                                                             Howard Yasgar

      I had first met Neil Metcalf through my friend Barney Kaplan in Detroit. Neil, like myself, was a rebuilder of automotive electrical parts who came from Brisbane Australia.
     It was hard for anyone to not to immediately fall in love with a guy like Neil, he was short and fat, with a jovial disposition, and when he laid down he looked like a Volkswagen. Neil said that he could play any type of musical instrument, and fat as he was he could dance a jig or salsa and he was always the life of any gathering.
      Once we became friends, Neil would call me a couple times a week from his office in Australia, where it would probably be early in the morning for him, but it was ten or eleven in the evening for us in the States. Neil would always start his conversation with me the same way, in his heavy Australian accent, he would say “Good day mate, good day for chasing women”.
      When I talked to Neil, he told me all about his former life when he was a musician, and an alcoholic. He said he had grown up as a musician, and he played pretty much any and every type of musical instrument, but he liked the brass horns the best. He was the kind of a guy that could walk into any bar, take out his trombone and have everyone clapping and swinging around to his music in a few minutes.
     Neil told me that after a long battle with alcohol, he had bought a small automotive electrical parts rebuilding shop in Brisbane, and that’s where he learned the automotive electric business. He said that he did it all the hard way, learning everything by trial and error. I asked Neil, “Why had he, as an accomplished musician, had gone into the automobile parts rebuilding business? He said it was because he had been an alcoholic for most of his musician years, and his first wife was also an alcoholic, just like he was. One evening, after doing a gig, Neil came home drunk. He was so drunk he completely missed the fact that his wife wasn’t there.
      Three days later he found his wife dead, she was under the bed, and it appears she had crawled under it in a drunken stupor and just died there. That episode was a wakeup call for Neil, he quit drinking and joined AA, and after that he said that he never drank a drop again, and not only that but he became a mentor to 5 or 6 other members of AA to help them in their recovery.
     To to stay away from the party scene, Neil quit being a musician and bought the small automotive electric parts repair business, it was for sale and right in his home town of Brisbane. Shortly after buying the company he hired a young lady named Roselyn to handle the phone and do the office work. Neil then put his nose to the grindstone and after a few years he became a real good automotive electrician.
     Eventually, Neil found business was so good that he wanted to expand. So by the time I had met Neil he had already started his new expansion program, he starting it off by marrying Roselyn who everyone called Ros, then he built a new building in a Brisbane industrial zone.
     Once he was in his brand new building, Neil started trying to do all sorts of things, most were things that were related to the automotive electrical field. Neil was just bursting with good ideas, so not only was he now repairing starters and alternators for people living in the outback, but he was teaching himself how to rebuild scrap yard magnets. Then he started making locomotive engine alternators and then besides doing all that he started publishing a monthly newsletter for his customers, then he also offered free monthly technical schooling to all his mechanic customers, and then in his free time he started writing a novel, and that was besides mentoring the six former alcoholics.
     When I really got to know him was when Neil started coming to the United States and buying all types of used starters and alternators. He said that he wanted to become known in Australia as a company that had any starter or alternator that anyone ever needed.
     My wife and I really liked Neil and Ros, and as we were going to Taiwan for business anyway, we decided one year to also go to Brisbane to visit them.
     When we visited with Neil and Ros, we watched how every morning Neil would hold an exercise class for all his employees. Neil being the short fat jovial guy that he was, would stand at the top of a metal staircase jumping up and down, clapping his hands over his head and leading everyone in their daily exercises. We also noticed that as you entered his new building, Neil had a big sign in his foyer that said, “No telling of yarns unless you tell them to the boss first”.
     We went along with Neil and saw that even with everything he was doing with his business, every day after work, Neil would get in his car and go to visit one of the other former alcoholic AA members. They were guys he was mentoring to keep them sober. He eventually drove us all over Brisbane to each of their businesses or homes to check on them. Some of them even owned restaurants, and they, all loved Neil and fed us for free. We couldn’t believe it, after all of this, Neil would then head home and sit down at his computer, write some of his newsletter, and then after the newsletter, he then wrote a page or so of what he said was going to be his first novel, it was about diamond smuggling.
     Neil and I became such very close friends, that we discussed many things together. Then once, when I criticized him for trying to do too many different things, he said, “Australia isn’t like the United States, we have a very small population here, so we need to do lots of things just to survive”. After saying this, he went right out and bought a bankrupt Australian electric motor company named Redmon, and he started assembling electric motors.  
    Neil’s wife Ros constantly complained to me that they could never get ahead financially, as Neil always took every dime they made and dumped it into another new project.
     In 1987, Neil and Ros said that they were coming to visit us in Miami. At the time I was driving a Chevrolet Astro van and my wife and I were living in a townhouse condominium near the Miami Airport, in a community called Cost Del Sol, The condo was only about a fifteen minute drive from the airport, so we told Neil and Ros to call us when they arrived in Miami, we said that by the time they got their luggage we would be there at the airport to pick them up.
     The next day, Neil called about seven in the evening to tell us they had just landed at the Miami International airport.
      When Katherine and I arrived at the airport Neil and Ros were not outside waiting for us as we had planned, so we parked the van in short term parking and went inside the airport. There we found Neil at the luggage carousel. Ros was laying on a row of seats in the fetal position. Her eyes were closed and she looked like she was in great pain.
      Neil said that Ros was very sick. He told us that she had some kind of stomach problem that was very painful, but he assured us that she would eventually be OK.
      Katherine and I were extremely concerned, as Ros appeared to really be in a lot of pain, so much that she couldn’t even stand up.
      We all helped Ros into the back of the van, where she again lay down on the van floor in the fetal position. I became very concerned as I thought it was possible Ros might die on us.
      When we got to our condominium, we all helped carry Ros inside, and we laid her down on the sofa in the living room. It appeared to us to be a real bad situation.
      Then Neil asked me, “Do you have a rebounder” What the hell is a rebounder? I asked. Neil looked at me and said, “A rebounder is a rebounder, you jump on it”.
      I looked at Katherine and I said, do you mean a trampoline? “Yes” Neil said, “In Australia it’s called a rebounder, Ros needs one to fix her problem”.
      It was already after eight in the evening, I wondered where in the world we could ever find a trampoline in Miami at eight in the evening. My wife Katherine said, “Hurry and go to Sears Roebuck, they close at nine.”
      Neil and I jumped into the van and I quickly drove to the closest Sears Roebuck store which was located at Miami International Mall, about ten blocks from our house.
       I had never seen a small trampoline, so I was thinking we would have to buy a big one to set up in back yard of the condo.
       But I was surprised, the people at Sears Roebuck knew exactly what Neil wanted and brought a small personal trampoline that was about twenty four inches in diameter.
       We immediately drove home and assembled the trampoline in the living room.       Neil assisted Ros who was still very unsteady, but she got on the trampoline and started bouncing.  At first it was just a small little bounce, and then then it got higher.
       After about twenty big bounces, Ros was smiling, she got off the trampoline and said, “Hello everyone. Sorry about that.”
       Katherine and I were mystified as to what had happened. Ros simply said that sometimes her stomach went inside out, like after she had been sitting on the airplane for a long flight. But after a few jumps on a rebounder, it put her stomach back in position.”
       I really didn’t know what in hell had happened, but we now knew what a rebounder was, and Ros was absolutely perfect for the rest of their stay in Miami.

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