I Heart Gary


Before you get all excited that Katie has found “The One,” you need to understand that Gary is my mechanic, and it’s purely about the car.

You also need to understand that I grew up in a house where crap was always broken. I can’t remember a time when our TV was ever broken, but there was a hole in the roof of our back patio, through which a fatty would have had no trouble climbing, and, I kid you not, the hole is still there. I suspect that hole has been in the roof for like fifteen years now. My father always says he’s going to fix things, like the hole, and when he fixes things, they are well-fixed, but, it’s usually possible to pay someone else to fix the thing and have it wear out once again within my father’s time frame for mending it once… except that my father refuses to allow us to hire anyone to fix things he could fix himself.

On the other side of my family was Pa. He’s my mom’s father, and he took care of crap. I remember one time when we were visiting and I was out in the front yard playing croquette; I accidentally knocked the head of my mallet off its handle, and was like, well, I guess that’s the end of croquette for a few years. Had it been reliant upon my father, that mallet would still be broken. However, I took the mallet to Pa, expecting to be chewed out, as I usually was for the breaking of even the most useless of objects, but I handed it to Pa, did not get yelled at, and received the mended mallet back within the next couple of minutes… that’s when it occurred to me that my father’s way of handling broken crap wasn’t necessarily the best way to handle it or the only way. In fact, that moment is responsible for an important epiphany in my life: broken crap is not the same as crisis. Mind-blowing, right?

So, within me, I have the warring father and grandfather, and, thus, I am as likely to fix something the moment it’s broken, as I am to ignore it for years… this character inconsistency is probably obnoxious for anyone I hire to work on my junk.

Exhibits A – D: In 2004 or 2005, I accidentally drove my car off the freeway and through a fence, separating it from its radio antennae. It is now 2015… and my bug’s most identifiable feature is still its lack of antennae. Also, I’ve been driving around with my airbag light on for like five years since the last time they checked it. Also, I drove around for awhile with my headlight taped in. Also, I blew my speakers like three years ago, and still, I blast my music as loudly as possible. Also, I’m fairly certain there are still bungee chords holding panels and crap together underneath the engine.

I know some of you are like, dude, there is something really wrong with you.

Some of you are probably getting ready to offer to fix crap for me, because it stresses you out just to know there’s so much broken crap in the world.

I, on the other hand, am thinking about going for a run, watching TV, eating lunch, and taking a nap… because those are all far more important things to think about than a piece of junk that still does 99% of the things it’s supposed to do.

This morning, I had to get up at the butt-crack of dawn on my Winter break to take my car down to Stuttgart. You see, driving a VW doesn’t leave a whole lot of options regarding mechanics. You can go to the dealer or someone else who is equally as incompetent… or you can go to Stuttgart. That’s the only reason I ended up there in the first place. It’s the only place in Tucson that deals well with foreign cars.

In full disclosure, it’s been almost a year since I’ve had Stuttgart look at my car. They are located far enough away that I’m too lazy to go there very often, and they’re not open on weekends, so even though my check engine light has been on since the day after I passed emissions last March, I’ve been driving and ignoring the sounds and the vibrations my car makes. My nonchalance about the once or twice when the car inexplicably stopped receiving fuel for a moment and I had to coast off the road, and also my nonchalance about the weird flatulent sound the brakes occasionally make… that nonchalance bothers others, but I think it’s noteworthy that there isn’t a hole in the roof, and if there was, I would definitely fix it. I also think it’s noteworthy that my car is almost as old as the students I teach, so what do you really expect? That’s like being a one hundred-and-twenty-year old, and expecting to be able to change a light-bulb without breaking a hip.

So… why do I love Gary?

I tell Gary how long the check engine light has been on, and he doesn’t blink an eye. He doesn’t make me feel terrible, like the hair ladies do when I tell them it’s been eight months since my last haircut. He acts like it’s no biggie. In fact, he seems to be okay with me treating my car however the hell I want to treat it, and just doing his job.

Within the hour, my oil has been changed, I’ve got new windshield wipers, and Gary is telling me not to replace my catalytic converter just yet. It’s giving off an intermittent light or something and the only reason it needs to be fixed is to get it through emissions in a month or two, and, let’s be honest, I’m probably just going to get the code cleared the day before I go in so that the check engine light is off and I can drive the thing for one more year.

And, sidepoint: Gary did recommend that I get new windshield wiper blades, which is something I almost never do. Living in the desert means that I only need my wipers half a dozen times a year, and, generally speaking, getting new ones doesn’t help a ton, because the sun will likely warp the hell out of them before I get a chance to use them anyways. This time, however, Gary recommended them, I got them because he’d never recommended them before, and it rained that evening. Also, it was New Year’s Eve, so I actually had to drive out in the wet to attend a party. On the way to the party, I used the wipers for the rain. On the way home, I used them for the snow. That’s right – the recommendation was timely to a ‘T.’

The last time I got my oil changed, I went to Fletcher’s, and they wanted me to fix the catalytic converter right away. They were obviously looking for ways to milk more $ out of me, and they probably thought it was to their benefit that I don’t know what a catalytic converter is, so they didn’t try to explain it to me.

Gary, on the other hand, told me what it is and does, and he told me in normal English. He also told me not to fix it yet. What sort of a mechanic does that? Also, I asked him how much it would cost, and he told me $480, which is less than Lori told me it would probably be. In fact, Gary always charges me less than people tell me he’s going to.

Also, Gary is portly… like a really tall dwarf. He’s got a belly like he knows how to enjoy a beer, but not necessarily like he’s on the verge of enjoying gastric bypass surgery. Also, he’s just a really friendly guy who knows how to talk to human beings.

When my car finally breaks for real, I can’t justify buying the Jeep I want, because I really just want Gary working on the cars I own for the rest of my life. Maybe I’ll get a Jetta. 🙂

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One thought on “I Heart Gary

  1. I was hoping Gary would be Gary Busey, but this story was pretty good too!

    I doubt a catalytic converter even involves actual catalysts, but they can say what they want!

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