Saturday, June 01, 2013
The garage is an old, unmarked pole barn with chippy blue paint, off the beaten bath of what appears to be the Mason-Dixon line, surrounded by a big chain-link fence. Just outside the barn are a bunch of old cars and campers, along with colored barrels, tires, and other random items. John, a gentle man who appears to be in his sixties and clearly a hobbit, runs the place along with his son. I'm guessing they do a lot more collecting and tinkering than anything else as every time I call, they're always able to fit me right in.
When I dropped off my Honda and money for parts just before noon, John had said it would be done in three hours. I felt good. I felt like a real adult - like a normal person even. I hate to even get gas, let alone get my car fixed, so this monumental act of responsibility resulted in my head held high. I returned to work feeling as though I belonged among the masses. Five hours later, my friend had dropped me off and I was sitting on the pavement, leaning against an old jalopy, reading my book and messing with my phone as father and son finished their fixing. I didn't really mind waiting. After a few minutes, John noticed and brought me a folding chair, wiping it off with a Burger King napkin before I sat down. Then my phone died, so I was forced to read which was fabulous - there was no temptation to jump on social media apps, no anticipation of interruption, so I was flipping pages like mad, sans adderall. Plus, I was just so happy my Honda was getting fixed as this was probably my fourth time out here. The three prior attempts, John had gotten the wrong part, or the part store closed early, or something like that.
"Man, I really hate to tell you this," John would say, looking down, "but when I got to the part store, they had sent it back by mistake." Or another time, "You're not gonna believe this, but when I got up to the part store, they closed early and never told me."
The son always stands just behind his father, awkwardly, looking down with his arms to his side, appearing to feel just as bad.
"John," I'd reply, hoping more delay wouldn't screw up my car, "It's not a problem. Don't worry about it. One of these times we'll get it right."
Two, three, four weeks later, I'd find some mojo again, call him back up, and get a friend to take me back out there.
"I thought you got your wheel bearing fixed months ago. Where'd you find this place?" my friend said, on his second or third trip out there. "This place is so you."
I knew it was and I was frustrated - frustrated that I don't just do things like the rest of the world - like take my car to the reputable place in town where everyone else takes theirs or clean a room before I paint it.
"Yeah, but he had the wrong part," I said, defending the hobbits. "It's all good though; I'm getting a good deal."
The hood of the Honda slammed down in sync with Sylvia Plath's vodka glass.
"I'm just going to take it for a quick ride to make sure it's ok for ya," John said, laying newspaper down on the seat before getting in the car and driving off.
John returned and got out of the Honda, a large piece of newspaper still stuck to his backside as he walked toward me.
I tried not to smile at the newspaper, bracing myself for bad news that was seeming synonymous with this place as I reached for the remainder of the money to cover the labor.
"You don't need to give us no more money," John said, wiping sweat and grease off his face with another Burger King napkin. He smelled of motor oil, sweat, and Old Spice.
"I took yer struts up to a friend of mine and he refurbished 'em for ya.I know you wanna save some money."
He tried not to smile as his son--just behind him--did the same, both so happy to have finally helped me.
I insisted they take more money only to be refused. Then I joined them, smiling as I drove off, feeling all sorts of goodness.
Normally, such adult-like behavior of mine is a catalyst for other adult-like behaviors, setting in motion trips to the post office, grocery store, and even the washer and dryer. These trips are then followed by feelings of great mastery and pride, when I foolishly believe I have licked irresponsibility for good this time, never to return. Chore charts soon fill the walls, wet wipes appear in the car, and new toothbrushes at the bathroom sink. I've done it, I'll think. I've become one of them.
Not this time.
I remain on the big brown couch like Tuesday's nacho plate on my night stand, blissfully contemplating words in between staring at walls and listening to Deb Talan songs. I am still reveling in my successful trip to the mechanic, feeling as though I am deserving of some time off.
Posted by Carin at 1.6.13