When a Beloved Mechanic Dies, What Next?

Imagine my shock when I learned a few months ago that Glenn Pearson, my long time mechanic at Amity Mobil in New Haven, Connecticut, had died unexpectedly.  The obituary from the New Haven Register was posted on the garage.  The owner of the gas station confirmed in broken English, “Glen dead!”

While we only visit our mechanics two, maybe three times a year, we have a special relationship.  We put our trust in him (or her), and in his relationship with and intimate knowledge of our cars.  An honest mechanic will tell you when it is nothing, and when it is something.  When the noise is nothing at all, and when you need to see a transmission specialist.   I got to know Glenn’s support for local sports teams, his quiet place in Vermont, and more.  I was sad when Glen died.  And I crossed paths with others dropping off their cars at the moment of my visit who felt a similar sense of loss.   I suspect this is how people feel when any service provider dies—a dentist, physician, perhaps even a hair stylist.

While we were feeling sad, we also felt fortunate that Glenn’s assistant, Dave, would be taking, over the garage—still owned by Glenn’s widow. Our good fortune lasted only a few months. When I stopped by to get Dave’s input, there was another sign—this one indicating that Dave had injured his knee and was no longer working there.  There would be no more car repairs at this gas station.  No Glenn, No Dave. What is a guy to do?

For starters, put off all car maintenance, indefinitely.  And pray nothing goes wrong.  For many years, I had gone to the family-owned Mantilia Motors Ford dealership in nearby West Haven.  That’s where I bought the car.  It operated there for 75 years–until it closed in 2009.  So that Ford dealership was no longer an option.   I reluctantly went to Meineke Car Care Center for a noise in the exhaust.  They were able to diagnose but not fix an oil pan problem.  Fortunately, I remembered a nearby Pep Boys.  Fond memories of the “Manny, Moe and Jack” sign from my childhood brought me back. 

I am still sad when I think of Glen (and of the crazy gas prices Amity Mobile charge–when the photo was taken last year, and even now, when prices have gone way down).  But I am glad I went to the Pep Boys—and glad I did some research on just who the Pep Boys were! 

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