Monthly Archive for December, 2010

Trip to the Past

Yesterday, I took my car into a wheel alignment shop on 11th & Utica to get a better wheel alignment on than normal tire shops have been able to provide me. I’ve had a chronic camber problem that could not be corrected by normal aligning methods on my car; and furthermore, I actually required a new part to correct the issue.
I’ve been putting off going there for days although it’s right down the street from where I work with a very convenient bus connection to and from work. I realized there was only one day this week that worked for me to do this and that would work in my schedule between work meetings and personal engagements. The entire experience was nice.

The experience of this shop surprised me. It was like visiting the past. First of all, as I walked into the shop around 7:45, there was an older man with a very long grey beard in a mechanic’s shirt sitting in the waiting lounge smoking a cigarette. He said hello to me, but I was still taken aback by his indoor smoking as I replied hello to him because he was smoking. I thought he is a customer or just someone who likes to hang out at the shop, but no, he was a mechanic. There was no one behind the desk, and he told me that the lady is not in yet but will be shortly. So, I looked around as I waited. Behind me, there was a glass counter with two antique mechanical typewriters. Inside the case were old Coca-cola memorabilia and other relics.

Then, one of the other mechanics, who was just as old, with an even longer beard came into the office to help me. I told him what I wanted, and he said that the young guy will need to come help me. He called him over, and then a clean-shaven 50-something man walked into the office. I guess 50 is younger than 70-something. They took down my name, numbers, and key. I left for the bus and admired the historically decorated sidewalk with route 66 markings.
An few hours later, the lady from the office called me with the quote and told me that they needed to order a part, which would take the rest of the day to fix my car. I agreed to the quote and was later called around 4pm that my car was ready.

There was only one more bus left before the shop closed, which I was going to take regardless whether they called me or not. When I got back to the shop, the lady behind the counter was smoking. I couldn’t believe it. I thought that for these smokers, this must be a paradise job because they can smoke not just during work hours, but while actually working. As I looked for other antiques that complement these old ideas, I noticed there was a “no smoking” sign leaning against the wall behind a large plant. Funny world! I guess it makes sense to some degree because the shop sits on historic route 66. They did have a computer, actually, and my receipt was printed, not handwritten..

The nice mechanic, the “young” guy, told me to keep the PSI higher than what’s recommended on the inside of the door for my particular type of tires to get much longer tread life. On the way home, I was very impressed how straight my car drove. It used to be a challenge to keep it straight, now it’s a challenge to turn it. I didn’t know a car could drive so straight. What an experience because it’s hard for me to imagine how some people continue to live like little has changed over the last few decades.