Filling stations and a bottle of pop

As I eased down I-75 towards Atlanta, I knew it was a straight shot to my destination. I expected to be there well ahead of time, of which I try to make a habit. Then I heard that sound – thud, thud, thud…. I wasn’t sure but I figured I had a flat tire, so I pulled over to the edge of the interstate and began the change process.

Of course, this was a day that we were blessed with enough liquid sunshine to drown a duck but I was making headway I thought.
Soon I noticed that a Georgia State Patrol officer was kind enough to pull up behind me with his lights going. I hit a problem getting a couple of the lug nuts to come loose with the limited lug wrench that came with the car and once he realized that was slowing me down, the patrolman stepped out in the drowning rain and gave me a hand until the job was finished and I was on my way. Needless to say, I am grateful for both his stopping and his help. It made the day.

Realizing I should turn back rather than running on my spare donut the 150 miles I had left to travel, I turned around and headed back home.

On my trip back my thoughts turned to my childhood rides down to the gas station to get air for my bicycle tires where I watched the mechanics fix the uncomputerized cars while I sat on a stack of tires and drank a bottle of pop.

I’m sure some of you remember garages; in years past they were the buildings sitting behind the gas pump. You pulled in and they could generally fix any problem related to your automobile.

What ever happened to the gas station where they worked on cars? Now, if you pull into the gas station, you are lucky if you can get a bucket full of water to throw on yourself to cool your frustration because nobody there knows anything about cars.

But they can appease you by selling you an ice cream cone, a slurpee or even 75 cents worth of air for your tires while you wait for the tow truck to come and take you away.

When did air become something you pay for? I wish I had thought of it.
You might even be able to get a book on tape to get your mind off things, that is if you could only get the car radio to play.

It seems today all you can find are those little oil change places. You know the ones where they do one or two things extremely well, but unfortunately cannot go much beyond that scope.

Have you noticed lately there are more and more such auto businesses? There is a place to get your oil changed, a place to buy a muffler, a place to get tires and a place to fix your brakes. The car repair business is almost like doctors — there is a specialist in almost anything and everything.

As I rolled back into Ringgold, I called to see if my friends at Greased Lightnin’ could fit me in and take care of getting me back on the road again the next day. Thankfully they could and I was soon the proud owner of two new tires and my car was once again road worthy.

As I waited that afternoon, I watched the staff there help customers with an endless list of automotive problems and I came to the conclusion that while gas stations with a garage are largely things of the past – garages like the one I remember from childhood, where you could actually see mechanics working on a car are still alive.

Even though you can no longer go down to the filling station and get a bottle of pop while Goober or Wally works on your car and Gomer checks the oil, air and fills up your gas, there are still folks out there that take the time to make you feel like you almost could.

I hope you can find the people at home and on the road that make things easier along your way.