Saturday, October 02, 2010

Auto Shop

The smell of oil and tires linger, though a breeze moves through a wide open roll-up door that faces a moderately busy street. Every so often the multiple swooshing sounds of moving cars outside enter the quiet chamber of the auto shop, interacting with the occasional bursts of mechanical drilling that come from the heart of the garage. There is the occasional clatter of metal hitting metal, or a drill, or the sporadic chorus of ringing phones.
The space is long and narrow and goes deep into the two-story building. The front of the shop is evident to the outside world simply by the open roll-up door and the sign above it that reads in handwritten red paint: “Mas Auto Shop.”
There is a continuous low hum coming from the back of the shop, from someplace far behind the roll-up door and office and waiting area by the front. The sound comes from something mechanical, some machine in a state of waiting, charging for use.
Fifteen feet from the roll-up door is a walled-in office with glass windows on two sides that open into the garage. Inside the space is illuminated by yellow overhead lights. There are two long wooden desks piled with paperwork. There are two computers on each desk, miscellaneous office equipment: pencils, staplers, ballpoint pens, notepads, a calculator. A girl, hidden behind the counter in front of the desks, is talking. She speaks with an Asian dialect, she talks very quickly.
On the outside of the office wall, just above the window, facing the opening of the roll-up door, is a big square blue sign with the Chevron emblem in the center, below the emblem in bold white letters is the word ‘Lubricants.’ Next to that large sign is a collage of other smaller signs. There are signs for the shop’s promotions and specials. “Lamp Station Prices” with hand-written in prices, ‘Smog Check’ signs with the type of inspection and the hand-printed prices beside them, and on the corner of the wall, a big STOP sign, below it is written: ‘Stop here please.’
On one side of the rollup door is a rack of new tires, a small wind chime hangs from a metal bar on the rack. On the other side of the open door is a small space for waiting. A row of decorative bookshelves three feet tall delineates the space between work and rest. The black bookcases are divided into a checkerboard of cube-like shelves, some with open backs and others with cardboard backs. On top of the bookcases are four equally spaced plants in white and blue ceramic pots. Towards one side, there are two variegated climbing ivy plants, and then two other small palms with alternating stripes of green and white.
Within the waiting area are a variety of seats. Against the wall of the shop that faces the street is a black exercise bike. A few feet from it is a gray and slightly stained rug with two loveseats and a wooden bench that face each other. The cream leather loveseat sofa faces the wood and wrought iron bench. Perpendicular to the cream leather loveseat is a worn light brown loveseat. It is plush and the fabric on the headrests is slightly darker than the rest of the fabric, indicating that many people have rested their heads against it.
In the center of the carpet, between all three loveseats, is a large round coffee table. There are piles of newspapers, a week’s worth of news. Almost all of them are in an Asian script, though there is one local newspaper in English, pictures of a neighborhood fire grace its cover. A pile of magazines with only their spines showing sit buried below the piled-up newspapers. An abandoned white paper coffee cup and an empty folded white paper bag which once housed a pastry sit on one end of the coffee table. Across from the coffee cup, on the other edge of the table, is a wide jade plant in a terra cotta pot. A terra-cotta looking plastic tray rests below the pot. A small stuffed Hello Kitty face hangs from a thin string from one of the jade plant’s thin branches.
Between the two plush love seats is a small end table. The wood is worn and the varnish is nearly stripped along the top, though the legs are still shiny. On its surface is a large jade, its leaves are smaller and lighter than the plant on the circular coffee table.
The phone rings and is quickly answered, then again, the space is made alive by the tinkling of the chimes.


crystl37 said...

I love your work! I have just read several pieces on your blogs and I just want to thank you for writing these things.

The small timeless moments you describe in such detail are moments I too share, and though you feel the same struggle I do to wrangle these experiences into words, each tale beautifully captures that which seems uncapturable.

This particular piece is so resonant, I worked as a mechanic for years in my fathers auto shop, and now I work on small airplanes.
All alone, or not, in a quiet shop, sometimes I pause and observe the scenery around me, it is my world when I am engaged in technical pursuits, but just as often I look around and feel like a stranger, an observer, I see piles of tools, and the lingering energy of those who last used them, the process that led to the aggravated throwing, dropping, or triumphant piling of the instruments used in a successful endeavor.

Alot of these planes are from the 70's, 60's 50's and even 40's. As I work, it is though I feel the energy that so many others have left with each bolt and screw, and the meticulous attention to detail that is necessary to preserve life and limb in small metal vehicles flying high above the ground.

The energetic imprints of those who fly the planes, or drive the cars, are my constant companion as well, I feel them, I care about their safety, I visualize them as I work, and this interaction with their lingering auras motivates me to perfection.

Your work has inspired me to think on these things, so much of my daily life seems surreal, I stare at a scene, or at a single point, as I grasp the steering wheel, greet my dog at the door, listen to the incessant ramblings of my work and house mate as we travel to and fro, a daily routine the likes of which I have never experienced, but which is liberating in the lack of attention it requires of me to complete successfully; days click by with increasing rapidity, my spirit spirals forward. When I pull in my driveway, I don't feel like the person that I would imagine that drives that truck, pays for that house; I don't belong here, how the hell do I pull this off, who is this person retrieving the mail, paying the bills. I have attempted to explain this before and been met with only bewildered looks, perhaps you can relate?

Radio Free said...

Thank you very much for this thoughtful and descriptive comment. I enjoyed reading it very much.
I relate, both to that sensation of being unidentified with this biological creation that I call myself as it acts out its part and also with receiving bewildered stares when I try to express these perceptions of self and/or reality. I have become accustomed to reserving my observations for those who will be able to hear them. Not everyone is capable of understanding, not every one wants to understand all that they are capable of.
Know that you have been heard here and the communication has been appreciated. :)

crystl37 said...

Thank you for that as well! I too don't share much with those around me, I have become quite skilled at assessing what I do or do not say, thankfully we have the internet to transcend the confines of time and distance between in making resonant connections!

It is a pleasure to make your acquaintance and I look forward to reading more of your work, are you involved with the music sites that you link to? I quite enjoyed exploring them today as well, and I am very intrigued by frequencies as a tool in our spiritual development. I have overdone it with brain wave sequences before rendering myself physically ill and have gained a new respect for the concept. If you are in fact creating music there are some things I would like to discuss regarding recent research I have been doing on universal harmonics and the singing of our activating DNA.

In love and light

static deformity said...

And thank you for reading them. we send them out like stones into a river, or melodies on the wind, hoping that one day they might find someone/something that can see hear, see, feel, taste them.

you are that thing...thank you for the boomerang.

like the other moment with the book and a line of text, it is like you were there with me, or i was there with you, or we both experienced it together in different spaces- maybe all are true.

i am particularly touched by the comment about the bolts and how you are motivated to perfection by the energy left behind, (and perhaps in anticipation of energy to come?) that just feels like such a caring, open motivation- it's very beautiful and truly has gone inside me in a way that is difficult to explain.

have you ever written about some of your experiences in the mechanic shop, etc. Your writing is very descriptive and lyric, i would like to read more.

and yes, to answer your question, the music sites are ours too. :-)

Radio Free said...

Yes, I am connected to the music sites aswell. If you would like to discuss sound with me please feel free to email me directly at
I look forward to the continuation of thiis conversation.

crystl37 said...

As do I, thank you for your email address I will contact you there. Your words have been with me all week and have been a source of great joy to contemplate. If only there were more hours in each day- you would have heard back from me already. I struggle to fit a few hours of sleep in each night and still the days continue to click by at an alarming but inspirational rate, if that makes any sense to you.

I have a blogger blog as well, if you visit it and notice on the left column the links to original written word there is some of my writing there. I would love to hear what you think.