Denim Shirt


If I were a mechanic, I would bring my lunch in a paper sack.

During the winter months, I’d take a thermos of soup to chase off the cold. My garage would be a small two bay place, painted white with blue trim. Outside would hang a sign in dark blue script that read Mechanic on Duty.

My place would have a small office in the front with a metal desk and a heavy metal chair cushioned with brown leather. The leather would be worn with a small crack on one of the arm pads.  When I leaned back to rest my boot on the desk, the chair would squeak.

A smudged calendar with lots of Post-Its and torn off packages of parts I needed to order would be on my desk, along with a green old-school telephone with a twisted cord and three light-up push buttons. I’d have a picture of my family taken during last Christmas and a small bobble head cat my son brought me back from his trip to Hong Kong.

There would be a coffee maker on the wall to the left of my desk, the only wall without windows.  Styrofoam cups, but real cream in the little fridge under the counter, and those red plastic stir straws. I’d keep a few packages of cocoa just in case kids asked.

If I were a mechanic, I would pin travel pictures, not nudey pictures, on the walls of the tiny bathroom just off the garage. I’d have a water machine with paper cones and a small plastic trashcan for the crumpled up empties.

My place would specialize in something cool like American-made classic cars for fun, but I’d also have the computers I needed for the new cars. I’d open at eight and close at five, unless Mr. Cooper had another emergency with his 1956 Chevy he affectionally called Matilda. I’d be willing to stay a little late for her.

Around 11:30 each day, I’d wash the grease off my hands and pull my lunch sack from the little fridge. Bologna or turkey sandwich and a bag of potato chips, plain. Everything would be washed down with a cold can of Dr. Pepper purchased from the vending machine in the garage with the quarters I’d collect in the only drawer of my desk.

A small television, turned to any channel but the news, would be in the small waiting area with two brown chairs and the ficus tree my mom brought me on the first day I opened.

The garage itself would smell of stale coffee and grease and my favorite radio station would spill out from the speaker over near the sink.

If I were a mechanic, I’d have Goop and that powdered soap in the metal push dispenser to clean up after each job. There would be a black mat in front of the sink and one of those white cloth towel machines that produced a clean section of towel after each tug. I’d also have a red shop towel in the back pocket of my jeans, just in case.

I’d be good friends with Mark, the guy that sells me my tools, and I’d keep Pepperidge Farm strawberry candies, the ones in the strawberry wrappers, in a dish on my desk.

If I were a mechanic, I’d glow with pride each night when I locked up my place knowing that my hard work, my greasy hands, paid for colleges, vacations, emergencies, and weddings. I’d drive an old truck and pick up ice cream on the way home.

That is all from the laundry room. Hit the Lights.

fiction If life people thoughts work

7 Comments Leave a comment

  1. I’m with you except for the Styrofoam cups. No matter who you are, no excuse not to have a proper mug. It makes the coffee taste soooo much better:). That real cream deserves a real mug.

  2. Really love the way you say this Tracy–the sad truth is small garages like yours have been devoured by big commercialized businesses. My Dad always took his ’52 Chevy and ’62 Chevelle to a small garage like this for its servicing and gas. This has definitely been a blast from the past—thank you!

  3. Wonderful visuals. I really enjoyed reading it. My brother is a mechanic and your garage sounds just like the one he worked at when he first started out. The only thing missing is the grey metal cigarette machine with the pull out knobs that dropped the pack down to the bottom. Of course this was in the ’70! Much cleaner air in your garage!

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