There are about 3 things in my life right now that I wish were different. The main one is that I wish I hadn’t landed, as an adult, a mere 100 miles from where I grew up, in the same state. I wanted to be someplace more urban. Or at least some rural scene that is less familiar. Like in Alaska or something.
A good mechanic is hard to find anywhere, though.
I’ve found my good mechanics more often by talking to other women than by luck.
My car is not a country car. It rebels against potholes and ice. It has about as much get-up as a 90-year-old mule. It is tiny, great for parallel parking, and has a manual transmission, which is the only thing that saves me in the snow. It is also inexpensive and great on fuel. It would be a great city car. I would be a great city girl.
Recently, a terrifying noise started coming from someplace under my car.
A loud tapping or ticking that I could feel in the steering column and under my feet as I turned hard to the right. Or left. Or soft to the right or left. I worried it was a bad shock because suddenly whenever I went over a small bump, my head hit the ceiling and Child complained about being car sick. On the way to school. Ten minutes.
I worried it was my axle which, when I thought about it, was more like this: I hope it’s not my fucking expensive.
So I called my auto mechanic. The trusty and affordable Bob Creveling of Creveling’s Garage & Towing.
I found Creveling’s by accident. My car shit out last winter parked in front of a girlfriend’s house for coffee after dropping our kids at the bus stop. A super nice country-dweller helped me get it started, then we took it up to Creveling’s. I had no clue what was wrong, and extremely limited financial resources.
Bob Creveling asked me what was happening, listened, nodded, and offered a hypothesis without talking down to me.
When he figured out what was wrong, he explained it to me and answered my questions without acting like I had no right to be asking them.
When he gave me the bill, it was under $100.
I wish I could tell you this is normal in my experience.
It is not.
I bet other women will attest that it’s not.
I bet other women have horror stories about paying $4,000 for repairs that they later found would’ve cost $600 at a different garage.
Here are other times Bob + Renee Creveling have gone out of their way to make my car work without costing a million dollars: My muffler got a hole in it and was making a terrible noise. A new muffler would’ve cost $600 before markup. Bob welded it back together and charged me $90. My car needed a tuneup (new spark plugs). It has these fancy iridium tipped sparkplugs that cost $20 each. They didn’t mark them up, at all.
Once, I took my car there for an oil change and waited. It was spring and they allowed Child and I to sit on the back porch of their home (they live in the same building as the garage) and watch their little TV. They gave me coffee. When my car was done, Bob came and sat down and had coffee with us. He asked Child about school. He asked me about life. We talked about country beauty, the sound of the creek.
Not in a creepy way. In a nice guy with good people skills way.
In a way that evinces trust of human kind, sincerity, a desire to be kind and to do right by people.
So when I drove up to Creveling’s gingerly on Monday morning, I was already a little in love with the Crevelings.
I avoided bumps and I tried to steer gently. I didn’t go too fast.
Bob accidentally locked my key in my car, then lent me his car so I could go get my spare set from town, twenty minutes away.
When I got back, he offered to drive me somewhere while he looked at my car. I just walked down the street to the Trout Run Hotel (ahem, bar, always fun people watching/listening) and had some lukewarm coffee while I read stuff.
About an hour later, Bob showed up, told me what was wrong with my car, and asked me if I could find a ride home. The driver’s side ball joint and spring were shot, and I needed new rear brakes to pass inspection. He said he thought it would be better if I could avoid driving the car.
Then, when I went back to Creveling’s to meet my ride, he invited me into his garage and showed me, while my car was on the lift, what was wrong with it. He showed me the parts that were broken, explained how they were broken and how that would affect my car’s life and my driving experience and my tires.
He said, “You women need to know your cars so you can avoid getting taken advantage of. I’ve seen it so many times.”
I said “You’re right. Thank you. So, so much.”
The next day, he stayed at work till 7:30 to get my car done. He called me to let me know it was ready.
Wednesday morning, Fella drove me up the hill. He said, “Did he tell you how much?”
I said, “I didn’t think to ask. I know it will be fair.”
And it was. I was expecting close to a grand. My bill was $400.
I love my mechanic, his staff, and his life partner. If I ever do get to the city, I will want to take them with me. I will have anxiety about leaving a garage I can trust.
Anybody else have a bad or awesome mechanic story to share?