Pepper heard him giving orders: "Move now, get the jack."
"Where is it?", asked the unknown mechanic. "...!",
said the manager calmly. "Look under the seat." "How should
I know," said the mechanic, irritably. "I kept telling you
I was a waiter." There was silence for a while, then the driver's
door opened and the frowning tense face of the waiter-mechanic appeared.
He glanced at Pepper, gazed around the cab, tugged the wheel for some reason,
then put both arms under the seat and started feeling around. "Would this
be the jack?" he asked quietly. "N-no," said Pepper. "
I believe it's the starting handle." The mechanic raised the handle to his eyes,
examined it, placed it on the step, and thrust his arms once more under the seat.
"What about this?" he asked. "No, said Pepper, "
I can be absolutely sure of that one. It's a calculating machine. Jacks aren't
like that." The waiter-mechanic wrinkled his low forehead and looked
the machine over carefully. "What are they like then?" he inquired.
"We-11 ... a sort of metal rod... there's different kinds.
They've got a sort of movable handle." "Well there's a handle on this,
like a cash register." "No, it's a different handle altogether." "What happens
if you turn this one?" Pepper was completely at a loss. The mechanic waited for a moment,
placed the machine on the step, and got back under the seat. Arkadi und Boris Strugatzki
The snail on the slope
Publisher Bantam Books 1989 The Pfeffer part was published 1968