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Posted Aug 7, 2010 in Made in Canada | 0 Comments

The English Mechanic

“Give me the keys.”

“I beg your pardon?”

“Give me the keys to the car”.

Giving your car keys to a man you’ve just met thirty seconds before involves a lot of trust, and, though I consider myself a trusting person, I can’t help but feel a bit nervous about this whole thing. The garage owner/manager/whatever-he-is – what’s certain is that everyone treats him like the boss – is a middle-aged man with greying hair, blue eyes, some sort of racing shirt and, quite possibly, a high opinion of himself. As he disappears behind a door holding my precious keys, I feel like a child who’s just let a bully snatch his lollipop.

Taking some phonecalls behind the counter is the big man’s wife/girlfriend/assistant who, with her wrinkly blue-eyed blonde Barbie look, reminds one of those tired American pornstars from the ’80s who aged too fast. I see another man emerge with my keys, my idea of a working class Brit inflated with sausages and ale: a bit round about the corners, in his fifties, his hair the colour of snow with a drop of motor oil in it, small black eyes, rosy cheeks, etc.. He’s the one who’s gonna bring my car in and take a look at the messed up wheel in the trunk.

I address the jolly Brit a few times (“Try pressing unlock”, “The handbrake’s up”, “I’ll take care of that”), but he pretends I’m not there. As he gets to work on the punctured tire, the boss lights up a cigar, surrounded by mechanics who weren’t there a minute ago. The garage/tire-shop/money-laundering-operation is quite poorly placed in a sort of dreary industrial dead-end, at the corner of Mountain Sights and some other alley, but I like it. It smells like tools, it makes me wonder what it would be like to work here, or maybe to own this place. It takes me back to the Industrial Revolution, when machines became the backbone of this society.

But before my mind can wander too far off, my car is ready, and waiting outside is the good bloke who took care of it, jingling my keys. I almost feel like reminding him that I am a loyal subject of Her Majesty, just to demonstrate my love. But I opt for something shorter.

“Thank you so much mate!”

As I shake his hand, he looks me in the eye and wishes me the best.

“Bonne journée monsieur”

Oops.

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