By Noam Livnat
A couple of weeks ago my car croaked. I turned it off to go get something from the house and it refused to start. As always, it was just the worst timing.
I’m not really a car person, but I’ve done some tinkering in the past. My wife and I changed our own brakes as starving college students (for some reason our so-called friends declined to ride with us in what they named “the death-mobile”). I’m particularly proud of the time I connected a car’s fan directly to the battery using a clothes hanger so it wouldn’t over-heat in the drive up the mountain to my hometown. In short, I know just enough to cause trouble.
I was convinced that something went wrong with the car’s immobilizer, and so called one of the local Toyota dealerships for advice. The service person listened to my plight patiently, and then suggested cheerfully that I have the car towed to the dealership so they could take a look. I couldn’t get anything else out of him. I wasn’t convinced that all this effort was required so I called the mechanic I usually take my cars to: Young Automotive on Central Avenue.
Fred Young is a bit gruff, uses words sparingly, and is similarly sparing in his work. He’s more likely to convince me to not do something with my car than suggest more work to do. Naturally, I keep coming back to his shop. We talked for a couple of minutes and he suggested some things I could check. One of them turned out to be the issue – something I could fix myself quickly and cheaply. The contrast with the dealership experience couldn’t have been more marked.
We tend to revel in and cele-brate the abundance of restaurants, bars, and other attractions we have downtown. Other local businesses, perhaps less exciting but nonethe-less important, deserve our recognition and patronage too. They often offer something entirely dif-ferent, like Fred’s free advice, from what chains and superstores provide.
It’s up to us to keep them around by giving them our business (when we actually need to buy something) and our thanks when they help us solve our problems without spending a dime.