Oh America. I’ve never in my life hated the mix of people here.
Here’s an odd and funny 9-11-2013 experience I had. . .
I think I mentioned that the Miata’s front bumper had popped loose and was kind of dangling, and I went into the shop down the block and asked them to look and the mechanic, one of two brothers who run the place, fixed it with a twistie baggie tie. It’s held good as new for months! I was delighted, they wouldn’t take a cent. I have to get the Miata smogged this month and was thinking well I’ll go back in there for it and give them some proper business.
[after being vandalized w/ a rock]
Over the past couple of days they’ve had a cyclone fence with signs erected around their gas station. They only do mechanic work and they never sold gas. However, the gas tanks are being dug out of the ground. I suspect there’s some idiot California law that you can’t have an empty tank or hazard hysteria something.
Well I saw them out this morning when I drove by, putting up tiny signs every couple of feet that declared, OPEN!! and you could hardly read them. I drove in and said, Hey…you need a sign! Give me a couple of hours. So I went to the gallery and made them one, painted a big piece of wood I had white, and blue letters, OPEN FOR BUSINESS, then AUTO. REPAIR. SMOG. and painted a nice picture of a pick-up truck on the bottom. I’d been working all morning on the blog and swept up in 9-11 reports and feelings. I brought the sign over to them. They loved it, they were so pleased and excited, I found the brother who fixed my bumper and put out my hand and shook his and said, Now we’re even. It was lovely. Happy moment.
Here’s the interesting thing, they’re a family of Sikhs. Turbans, beards and all. But flying a good-sized American flag on the wall outside their bays. Sweet guys.
Oh America. I’ve never in my life hated the mix of people here, it was always what totally thrilled me about New York. I’ve loved that exposure to a zillion cultures, food and smells and styles so different from my own experience. I figure if you’ve lived any length of life or been anywhere or seen anything else you get an idea of how precious if imperfect this country is. People hating America bothers me. I find it beyond understanding.
I’m really glad I told you about the experience I had with the Sikh garage mechanics, because Chapter Two unfolded today.
From the easel in the back of my gallery I saw one of the Sikhs walk by and halooed. I went out, he had come to see Moses next door, who’s his friend; Moses was closed today.
He said it’s slow, he’s been walking around the neighborhood visiting his neighbors. The Pizza guy, the restaurant guy.
I invited him in to see my work. He thanked me again for the sign and said it was unusual for people to do things like that for each other. And that it had helped to bring him business. And could he have cards from me because people ask about the sign and really like the truck I painted on it.
I said, Well you fixed my bumper! and it was a great opportunity that I could repay you with the sign.
In fact another (professional) local sign maker did a big Open For Business sign for them too! What a neighborhood. They’re having the old gas tanks removed from the ground, major dig, because California charges them $7,000 a year just to have them unused in the ground!!
I said, I have to get the car smogged later this month and I’ll come to your place and give you some real business.
Oh, I’ll do that now. No charge.
Well, I looked at him: No you can’t do that.
Yes, I can.
No, it’s too much.
No, it’s not. You brought us business.
I was almost in tears by now because this and the coming registration due in a week were weighing heavily on me. I mean it has been slow. But I got him the paperwork and handed him the key and thanked him profusely and off he drove.
My God. Imagine.
He drove back a bit later and said the car passed smog but it was close because it was a little smoky but it’s okay, and handed me the paperwork marked N/C.
Then he said, And by the way your rear brakes are shot but I didn’t know if you needed the car right away, if you have time I’ll do the brakes.
You can’t do that!
Yes, I can. No trouble no charge, don’t worry. I want to do it.
That’s too much.
No no you brought us business.
But then tell me how much it costs so I can at least repay you at the end of the month.
Well it’s about 89 dollars for parts, but don’t worry, it’s not a problem.
(He was very firm and serious about this, that it really was okay by him.)
Would you like a painting? Is there a painting here you’d like?
I’m really floored by what’s been said, had no idea the brakes weren’t good but suspected so, and just so touched by all this and he’d admired my art work.
I’ll bring my wife back, she will pick a painting.
I don’t know if there’s enough gas in the car to even get you back! (I’m driving on fumes and a prayer.)
It’s okay, he said. I put gas in the tank. (Me–near a faint!).
All of this was pretty transporting and I’m not sure what happened next but I guess I gave him the key back again and off he went. He returned at ten after 5 with everything fixed.
Promised to come back with his wife for a painting.
Oh John. Such goodness in people. All started with a baggie tie on my bumper, no charge. A sign to help their business, no charge. The rest is history.
What a day.