As I eased along a route I often took, 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. As a sweet aroma permeated the car, I
thought to myself: “Why am I smelling a new tire inside my car?”
I looked around at the other cars while stopped at a traffic light
and realized that it could not be a new tire smell. Then it dawned on
me that it was the smell of anti-freeze boiling. As I glanced over
the hood at the puffs of white smoke easing from under my tire-well,
I knew it was time to give my horse a rest. I looked for the nearest
garage to pull off.
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 50 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
You might even be able to get a book on CD 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.
So anyway, I tooled off and found my place in line at one of those
oil change places and waited for a chance to ask for assistance.
Usually, I expect to find someone who can provide little assistance.
Instead, I found someone at an oil change place who took the time to
look at the problem and say: “There’s nothing we can do to fix the
problem, but at least let’s put a Band-Aid on it by adding some more
anti-freeze so we can get you to someone who might help.”
He suggested going to the nearby auto parts store to see if they had
any suggestions to fix it with just a little expense.
There, the customer service person was courteous and helpful. He
looked at the problem and provided me with a part that he felt would
fix the problem. He even attached it. I thought I was home free, and
I am sure he did as well.
Unfortunately, as I returned to my journey to try to reach my
appointment on time, I happened to look in my rearview mirror. It was
then that a sinking feeling fell over me as I realized that line of
liquid behind me on the highway was not in front of me. I was rapidly
losing anti-freeze, and the problem was not solved. So, I immediately
began looking for my next course of action. Turning down another
street knowing that very little was ahead on my route, I found a
muffler shop which specializes in brakes and mufflers.
I went in, told them the problem and asked if they had time to help.
The mechanic said they would be happy to check out the problem if I
did not mind waiting. I asked if there would be any charge and he
At this point, I was too late to make my appointment, so I called to
reschedule. I waited while they gave it the once over. Upon their
return they gave me the bad news that it was not just a hose or
something simple, and it would require half a day to fix it.
Since they did not have time at that late hour in the day, I had to
get on my way, and they insisted no charge and assured me that if I
wanted them to do the needed work, they would work it in early the
While I chose not to return due to the distance of this particular
garage from my home, I feel all of these folks went out of their way
to help me that day. I can only figure they must do similarly for all
their customers. They should all be commended.
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 also find people like these along your way.