Saturday, October 02, 2010
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.