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Monday, May 10, 2010

Gladys Gets a Make-over


Gladys,The Valley in May if anyone, ought to believe in serendipity.  Thursday I took the Toyota into Courtesy Tire to replace the old tires George said would do me until last fall. About an hour I was told for the installation and balancing. An hour to kill…I decided to stop in at the used bookstore on Main Street. I browsed around for forty-five minutes or so until, as the owner told me when I went to pay, “Something jumped off the shelf at you, huh?”During my short stay there I hadn’t noticed anything that seemed the slightest bit inclined to budge unless it was the owner’s black cat or her three-year old son who was at odds with a toy truck. (By the volume of the controversy the Big Wheel truck was the declared winner of Round One.)

What I “pulled” from the shelf was a book by Eliot Wigginton, the founder of the Foxfire series, a real  bargain at four bucks. Wigginton taught high school English in Southern Appalachia back in the late ‘60’s and came up with the idea of having his students do a hands on project involving local culture, handicraft, and folklore. Students were to venture out into the hills and hollers of Appalachia and engage the hills people in the project by requesting they be taught the skills, customs, and folklore, the history of the region. When the interviews and filming were done, students would take what they learned, compile the information in book form and publish their work. A good way to teach communication skills and connect with the hills community at the same time. Thus the Foxfire books were born. If you wanted to build yourself a cabin, fashion and use a froe to split roof shingles, find and dig ginseng root, card and spin your own wool, pluck and gut a chicken, or scare yourself to death by reading stories about “hants” and”boogers,” the Foxfire books helped you out. I was only interested in reading about the experiences of another English teacher, so I purchased the book, and before anything else jumped off the shelf at me, I headed back to Courtesy Tire.

The truck was still on the rack when I returned. The new tires were mounted and installed. That was the good news. Then I learned I was the victim of the auto shop domino effect that so often comes into play with auto repairs: fix one thing, two more problems crop up. The shocks are shot, oil completely leaked from one. And George tells me I only have about 10K left on the front brakes. It’s an overnighter for the Toyota. Courtesy of Courtesy Tire owner Larry gives me a ride home.When the truck is ready tomorrow, I’ll get a call.

About 10:30 the next morning the call came. No round trip courtesy, so I saddle up Gladys and off we huff and puff to town. We rattle to a stop in front of the shop where Larry and Chris are sunning themselves in the doorway. “Did you ride that all the way in on 203?” Larry asks. “Yes, just the two of us, Gladys and I,” I reply. I lean Gladys on her kickstand and Larry comes to look her over. Larry is a history buff and antiquities excite him. He is quite taken with Gladys, I can tell, but why not: she does have her fetching ways. “Wow, this is one old bike,” he says as he checks Gladys’s wheels for wood. “What is she? vintage ‘60’s? Early ‘70’s?” I’m uncomfortable discussing a lady’s age in front of her, and I say so. We defer to female vanity, decide on the conventional twenty-nine years, and move on.

Larry tells me the bike shop in town does tune-ups for $75.00. That piques my interest. Gladys sorely needs a tune-up, among other attentions. I settle up for the truck repairs but can’t seem to dismiss the tune-up idea for Gladys. “Seventy-five bucks for a tune-up?” That’s money well-spent, I think, and tell Larry so. At this point serendipity intervenes. Larry says, “It’d only take about ten minutes and Gladys could be a changed woman.” Ten minutes for Gladys? I’d gladly devote an hour to that gal. “She’s yours,” I say, knowing Larry will be gentle with her.

Once Larry gets started, he seems inspired, and Gladys, I’m happy to say, gets the full Monty. If there were an invoice print-out for Gladys’s service, here’s how it would read:

Seat adjustment: no charge

chain adjustment: no charge

chain lube: no charge

kickstand adjustment: no charge 

shift cable adjustment: no charge

parts: lock washer: no charge

de-greaser: no charge

power washing: no charge

labor (of love): now who would charge for this?

Gladys is a new woman thanks to Larry aBrad and Georgend the guys at Courtesy Tire. The next day I take her out for a test drive. Under Larry’s skillful hand, Gladys’s asthmatic wheezing has disappeared.


 Larry and Chris

I did notice a new rattle or two, however. But they sounded like happy rattles.

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1 comment:

  1. Oh, my cheeks hurt from smiling!! What a great day it was for Gladys!! Though, I'll admit, reading you traveled with her on 203, wearing no helmet is somewhat bothersome (I'm sensing a wee bit of parental hypocrisy here...), the end result is great! Now you get to pedal the Valley in a well-oiled and tuned antique beauty. Thank you Courtesy Tire for a job well done! :)