Monday, June 12, 2006

I Really Want My Mechanic To Like Me

What’s what? Oh, that clicking sound? God, is it really that bad? I guess I’ve just gotten used to it. What is it? I don’t know, I think it’s the wheel well. Or something. Get it checked out? God, if it were only that simple.

Yes, I have a mechanic. I bought the car from him actually. Why not take it in? Well, it’s a long story. Normally I would take it in, but. See I got in this little fender bender, took out a headlight, damaged the frame, too. My mechanic said he didn’t feel comfortable trying to fix it. He said he couldn’t accept money to do what I wanted to do. Said he couldn’t guarantee it would be safe. God, he has such integrity. Anyway, I paid some body shop guy to replace the headlight, that’s it. All I could the afford. Since then the car’s been drivable, except for that noise. But you see why I can’t take it in, right? I disobeyed my mechanic. I went over his head. No, I can’t go to someone else. I wouldn’t trust them. I trust this guy. I know, but this is about more than the car. I really want my mechanic to like me.

You don’t understand. He’s such an amazing guy. He gave me a great deal on the car, was very upfront about its history, its previous owner. I liked him right away. He gave off this aura of honesty. He wasn’t a salesman. He loved my car, but it was a tough love. Rugged. Frontier love. Or the kind of love that exists on the battlefield, between a sergeant and a private. He could tell when I hadn’t taken it in for an oil change. He’d give me this look, quietly scolding. I want to please him, I can’t help it. I want to learn to be a better owner of our car. I mean my car.

It’s not just that I disobeyed him, either. See, he’s really into classical music. Last time I went to the garage he had some beautiful music playing, conducting with one hand while he changed my air filter with the other. I stood in the garage opening for fifteen minutes before I could bring myself to interrupt. When I did, I felt obligated to ask what the music was. He said some long German name-- of course I forgot it right away. “Isn’t it wonderful,” he asked. “Simple. Yet devastating.” I had no idea what he meant, but of course I nodded right along. Like an idiot! Before I could stop myself, I asked that he write down the name for me. Now I can’t go back until I’ve listened to it a bunch. I have to be able to understand what he meant when he said “devastating.” But he already thinks I’m incurious. Because one time he offered to explain to me how a sparkplug works, and I said, “oh come on, that’s what I pay you for.” The look he gave me-- well, I just can’t have him look at me that way again.

It’s not stupid. He’s just…one of the most amazing people I’ve ever met. First-generation immigrant. Born in Hamburg. Came over when he was five years old. On a freighter. Got a job working the ports at Long Beach. Taught himself English and Spanish. How do I know all this? I read it in the program for this play he wrote. Yeah, it’s been running at the Gracie for the past four weeks. See, that’s another thing. I can’t take the car in until I’ve seen the play a few more times.

How many times have I seen it already? Just a couple. It’s very dense. Or maybe I’m dense, what can I say? When? Last Thursday, why? What! That’s not true, is it? I thought your opening was this week! Oh, god, I am so sorry. How was it? High turnout? You don’t want to tell me. You know what, don’t tell me, you’re right. I should be punished. I’m such an selfish jerk.

God, I feel sick to my stomach. Yes, I can drive just fine. I just want you to know I feel terrible.

You know, maybe you shouldn’t do my taxes this year. Maybe it’s for the best. I know it’s your livelihood, but maybe it’s not worth the suffering? Filing an 1040 for the world’s biggest ingrate?