I was heading for an early rendezvous with the local birding group when my car decided it had other plans: first the check engine light came on, then the traction warning light (on a clear summer day!), then the battery and oil pressure lights, and I didn't even realize that I had no power steering until I detoured into the nearest parking lot, where my car came to a crooked stop right in front of a wooden "welcome" sign with a cheery painted bluebird perched on top.
That was the end of my birding for the day, which is fine, actually, because I have a ton of stuff to do before I leave for Louisville next week and I'm not really in the mood for another round of Lunchbox Envy. This birding group consists of retired people with enough time on their hands to go on all-day (and sometimes multi-day) birding expeditions once a week all year round, and they're always equipped to survive the birding apocalypse, whatever that might be. I don't envy their expensive spotting scopes and smart-phone birding apps and precision binoculars with names I can't pronounce, but every time they sit down for lunch with their colorful insulated multi-compartmental lunchboxes, I find myself transported back to those thrilling days of yesteryear when I would eat lunch in the grade-school cafeteria surrounded by fancy-shmancy lunchboxes with pictures of The Partridge Family on the front and real thermoses inside while I sat there with crumpled paper bag containing a peanut butter sandwich and an apple.
But I'm not here to complain about my sad, pathetic inability to get with the program, lunchbox-wise. I'm here to talk about my garage mechanic, who responded to a phone call at 6:45 a.m., drove five miles down to where I had pulled over, fiddled with my car there in the parking lot, and then let me follow him in his car while he drove my car back to his shop, where he scanned the car's computer, located the loose clamp that had caused a particular part to come loose (thereby messing up the oxygen mix and making the oxygen sensor shut down the engine in alarm), replaced the clamp, cleaned the corrosion off my battery, took the car for a drive to make sure everything was back to normal, and let me get away for a mere $60.
Is he the best mechanic ever or what? I can't count the number of times he has come to my rescue. He's had some helpers over the years but he's mostly a one-man shop, and we have always found him helpful and trustworthy--and I always come away from his shop with a smile, even after I've paid way more than $60.
And now he is retiring!
I suppose he deserves a break, considering how hard he's worked over the years, but I fear that I'll never find another mechanic like this one, who seems to care as much about us as he does about our cars. Anywhere else, we'll just be customers.
So I guess I should be thankful that I had one last chance to spend some time with my mechanic before he shuts down for good. It was $60 well spent--and besides, it saved me from once again exposing the birding group to my pathetic lunchboxlessness.