When I tried to start my old Chevy S-10 all I heard was a clicking sound, like the battery was nearly dead. But how could that be?
Don Allemann and I had just stopped for breakfast at a fast food restaurant off of I-40 west of Winston-Salem somewhere. The truck had been running just fine until I cut it off and Don and I went inside to get sausage biscuits and coffee. But not now.
I had no idea where I was going to find a mechanic. I didn’t even know the name of the town. Don’t know it now. I walked across the street to a convenience store to see if maybe someone there could point me in the right direction.
The only customer in the store had just paid for his cigarettes so I asked the guy at the cash register if he knew where I could find a mechanic.
The customer, still standing the the register, said to the clerk, “He’s looking for a technician.”
I wasn’t talking to him and his comment irritated me just a little.
The clerk looked like a foreigner and I wondered if had understood me. I repeated myself: “My truck won’t start and I need a mechanic.” The customer, who was looking at me now, repeated himself: “He needs a technician.”
This guy needed to mind his own business.
And then it dawned on me what he meant by that, and I asked, “Are you a mechanic?” He said he was, and I pointed through the convenience store window at my truck and asked him if he had time to take a look at it. He did.
We walked out of the convenience store together but instead of turning left toward my truck, he turned the other way and walked a few feet to his shop. I had broken down across the street from a garage that fixed cars and trucks. He picked up a rubber mallet and said to two feet sticking out from under a car, “I’ll be right back.”
As we walked across the street to my truck the “technician” told me, “I know what’s wrong with it.”
“What?” I asked.
“You got a bad fuel pump.”
He told me to get in and crank it when he gave me the go-ahead. Then he dropped to the ground, reach under my truck and started banging on the gas tank with his mallet. My truck started right up.
Postscript: The “technician” said my truck might keep on starting for a week, a month, maybe several months. Or it might not start the next time. If that happened, get somebody to bang on the gas tank, he said. I didn’t have to do that. It ran flawlessly until I had the fuel pump replaced a few weeks later.
Coming Monday: “How Can I Help You?”