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Thursday, August 18, 2011

No Need for a Curly

Yesterday, I spent eight hours at my job, and two hours at my mechanic's job.

I joked with my wife, after I'd finally arrived home, that "my day was great until I left work." And, for someone who works at an inpatient psychiatric hospital, that's saying something.

Actually, spending two hours with your sixty-eight-year old Israeli mechanic and his indeterminately-aged though much younger Chinese assistant isn't a half bad way to decompress after spending a full working day among 70 psych patients and some similarly-afflicted staff members. At least, at the garage, you've got the bay doors open and the sunlight is streaming in, and you're surrounded by cars, in various states of disrepair. Cars and mechanics-- simpler both than your average psych patient.

Soly and Jack have been working together since "1996 or '97, I can't remember," said Jack when I asked him yesterday. Soly, the sunburnt sabra, screams and curses. Jack, the obedient Chinese assistant, dutifully and quietly takes abuse. Soly is very much like hot-tempered Moe, and Jack is definitely Larry-- hapless, in the way, liable to get his hair pulled and his face smacked.

The only thing missing in that garage is a Curly, but I don't see any twinkle-toed, obese, balding men with high-pitched voices and a propensity for playing the spoons entering the picture anytime soon. Though I don't think it would surprise me if one did.

I went to see Jack and Soly yesterday because, on Tuesday, they changed my tires and noticed that I needed new front brakes and rotors.

"Why?" I asked.

"WHY?!" Soly screamed into the phone, "because the FAH-KEENG ESS-HOLE who owned your car before you put brakes on WITHOUT CHANGING THE ROTORS! Volvo, BMW, and Mercedes, if you change the brakes, you HAVE TO CHANGE THE ROTORS!"

And now I know that. And so do you. The person who owned my car before me obviously didn't know that, and now she was being maligned by some short, angry Israeli in a dirty work shirt and shorts that she'd never met.

This is what life is.

And so, yesterday, I went to Soly and Jack's to have my brakes (AND ROTORS) put on. But they didn't fit.

So they ordered another set to be delivered to the shop. They arrived forty-five minutes later, during which time I watched Soly fight with two customers and turn someone away who wanted to buy scrap metal from him for $0.15 a pound.

"What am I, a fah-keeng retarded?" he asked me, rhetorically, I presumed.

The second set of rotors didn't fit either.

"Oh my God, wat dee fak! JACK! Call Jeff and tell him to get me rotors here now. GODDAMNIT!"

I stared at my car, up on the lift, with the two front tires off. I wasn't going anywhere fast, so I sat down on a rickety wooden chair and enjoyed the atmosphere and the conversation. Mrs. Apron had been there earlier that morning to get her oil changed and her car inspected and to get new wiper blades on.

"So," Jack said to me as he was yanking a 16-inch tire off the rim of a 2009 Ford Econoline van that had just failed its emissions inspection, "you gonna have twins-- you the big daddy. No more money."

"That's right, Jack," I said, smiling, "so enjoy swiping my debit card today-- if you guys ever get the right fucking rotors here."

He laughed.

Other people might have been indignant about spending two hours in a garage, especially after they'd just worked a full day, but I wasn't. Because we could talk, about having twins, about mortgage rates, about what it's going to be like for my father if my wife and I have at least one boy.

"Let me tell you," Soly said, "for Iraqi Jews, if you have a son-- forget about it. That is eeet! He going to have your father around his finger, for good."

"I sure didn't have him wrapped around my finger-- my sister was always the favorite."

"But you are good," Jack said, furrowing his brow, "you always do the right thing, you grown up."

"Jack, shut up!" Soly yelled, "dat's not what eet is about! The sister is like the father, so he look like he like her more. But he is good. You are good. I didn't go to school for a fucking psychology, I can talk to you for five minutes and I know that you are good. And your father would facken' kill himself to make you happy."

It's funny, discussing the dynamics of your family with your car mechanics, but we've known Soly and Jack fifteen (maybe fourteen) years. I took my first car for its first oil change there. The barber who gave me my first haircut. The doctor who gave me my first shot. These connections mean something to me, and I cannot let them go.

And, even after two hours and three sets of rotors, I don't much want to.

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for letting me share your community for a bit. It would be nice to have that someday.


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