Jim our car mechanic is from the old school. When I arrive he says "Hello Ms. Snyder, how are you?" Today I was there for the annual car inspection and to check out a squeaky belt that chirps when I turn the steering wheel. I usually wait when Jim works on my car as he lets you watch him work, getting right in under or next to the car. He wants you there watching and learning. Jim is especially keen that women learn about cars and not be intimidated by them. He explains everything about the car, in between talking about bluebirds, hiking, dogs, gardening, monarchs, with a few rants about government thrown in.
Jim is the second generation owner of this family business. Now in his late 60s he still comes to the garage every day and works hard. His hands and legs are large and strong; his mind is sharp. Now slightly bent when he walks, perhaps caused by arthritis but also likely from decades of stooping under cars on lifts. His son works in the bay next to him; two other youngish guys round out the crew. Jim is polite and curious, the others get the job done but are less talkative and less interested in getting to know their customers.
I was expecting a quick trip to see Jim today. Two hours later I left with my new inspection sticker, a new alternator belt, and a whole lot of info about the best clam flats in Ipswich. Part way into our chat, Joe, another long-time resident stopped to give Jim the state guidelines on clamming. And then Joe's niece arrived and we kept on talking about tomato blight, the yellowjacket paper nest about Jim's work bay door, bluebirds, bats, "fork-tail" swallows, and "B-52 bomber" dragonflies which Jim calls the big ones, he having noticed that they arrived late this year. The fishing and clamming stories kept coming from Joe and Jim and I was getting mighty hungry thinking about fried clams.
We sat outside under a clear blue sky with temps in the low 70s - a perfect fall day. Jim was all smiles once we got back to the belt and the inspection. He said he didn't get to do that very often. Sit around and chat. Too busy working on cars and clamming boats. The first question Jim asked me when I arrived this morning was whether we had monarchs in our yard this summer. He doesn't know what they look like, but he remembers that we had dozens of pupating monarchs two summers ago. He keeps track of seasonal changes, like when the B-52 bombers show-up. Jim lets the yellowjackets buzz about high above his head and wonders why the (barn) swallows haven't been back.
Jim Price's Sunnycrest Garage is two miles from home. I think Jim teaches us so we can do some of the car repairs ourselves, but we keep taking it there because we like to hear his stories and learn even more. Maybe I'll go dig some clams. Jim was pretty specific about which mudflats are best, but I won't tell.