All These Repairs, Writing 101, Day Six


Our Writing 101, Day Six assignment asks who is the most interesting person or people we met in 2014. The twist is to turn this into a character study. Day seven’s twist is to write dialog and, as I’m still working on seven, I included some dialog here too.

Life is pretty much work, mom stuff, daughter’s school & activity stuff, laundry, feed family, and struggle to make time to see people we already know and … repeat. I’ve not met many new people in 2014.

Thinking through the new people I did manage to meet, I realized that, aside from the most random of store clerks, every one of them has had something to do with repairs.

I had car trouble last week. A fellow commuter stopped to assist. I did not get his name, but he drove a silver vehicle and wasn’t afraid to open the hood to my steaming engine. He had lovely blue eyes which I probably shouldn’t have noticed. We topped off my coolant since I carry extra in the trunk and went on our way.

Once I got my car into a shop, a man named, Al, helped me with my car repairs. Later, Jeremy, at the same car repair shop, talked to me for a bit without actually giving me any info on my car because Al had all that info, and he’d gone for the day to pick up his kids.

Al was very by-the-book as far as repairs went. Replace broken part with same part. Not much creativity or love for working mechanics to find better solutions. Probably a good thing for new cars, but my older car often benefits from some creativity. The plastic coolant section of the intake manifold is a weak spot on some Saturns so many folks have used a more durable metal repair and been happy with it. Even the parts supplier that Al’s shop uses carries the more durable metal fix. Al is doing his job.

The other guy at the repair shop, Jeremy, was fairly interesting to talk with and I learned that he used to work in finance “telling rich people what to do with their money.” First working in a BMW repair shop, he found the world of car repair more exciting.

Jeremy also mentioned that not long ago he changed his eating habits and lost a lot of weight – he wanted to be healthier for his kids. His dark frame was trim. Bananas hung from a holder on his desk and beyond that a bag of gummy bears. He said that gave up all other sugar. He held up the bag – only genuine Haribo bears for him. He used to live in Germany.

Jeremy might have been open to exploring a better way to repair my car than Al. But Al got my car got fixed and for a fairly hefty price. I can actually drive my car now without spewing coolant all over the place. That’s a good thing, so I’ll take it.

I met a new doctor in 2014. Doctors do repair work of sorts, but I know nothing about her other than where she works.

If we’re going by the rule of most interesting person I met in 2014, it would be the Repair Liaison for our condominium community.

Repairs have been ongoing for around two years and are very necessary in our community. Our home owners’ association is now on its fourth Repair Liaison. Yep, four. It can be stressful.

Homeowners have a lot of pent up anger at having to undergo the repairs – the builder’s fault – but the Repair Liaison is the messenger. And we all know how that can turn out. I’m pretty sure the folks who are doing the actual repairs alert him to absolutely nothing until the last minute. So the Liaison, Mr. Edwards, is left to deal with homeowners who become even more upset when they get little notice that, by-the-way, we’ll be covering all your windows and temporarily blocking off one or two hundred square feet from your home. “How’s tomorrow work for ya?”

When I first spoke with him on the phone I’d pictured a gnarled construction type in his 40s or 50s with brown hair. But when I met him his hair was totally white. Hopefully dealing with homeowners for a month didn’t do that to him.

He seemed like a grandfather who’d just come out of retirement and is still learning the smart phone he inherited from his many predecessors.

So far, one of his most endearing qualities is that he seems to be able to keep track of virtually nothing as far as our home’s state of repair. You might think I’m kidding. But truly it is comical and hard to be mad at him when he’s trying yet somehow manages to get it all wrong.

In one of our first exchanges with him he said, “workers need to get into your unit to take down your security walls.” We had no temporary security walls at that point.

He said he “doesn’t have it in his notes” whether our home is getting temporary walls installed or if they’re coming down, but, “it’s one of those.” If you have temporary walls up they’re coming down. No walls? They need to put them up. “It really needs to be done by Wednesday. Thank you for scheduling this. Some people refuse to let us inside. That only delays everything.” Poor guy.

In later conversation he phoned us, “The plumber is coming up, and he’ll tap on your window in just a minute.”

“We don’t have any windows right now.”

“He’ll tap on your balcony door then.”

“Nope, don’t have one of those now either. No windows. No balcony door. We only have the pink temporary walls.”

“Okay then, I’ll radio him that he needs to come to your front door.”

“Thank you.”

He has a sweet, raspy voice that manages to sound genuinely helpful and appreciative, yet he’s not afraid to leave an urgent note on your door when work must get done and you didn’t yet manage to return his call. And most important he is still our Repair Liaison. It’s going on six months now, and he hasn’t run away screaming. There’s something to be said for that.

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1 Comment (+add yours?)

  1. Scott
    Jun 12, 2014 @ 07:46:44

    I like this story. The end is humorous.

    Reply

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