Busted Halo
feature: religion & spirituality
May 3rd, 2005

Spiritual Transmission

Epiphanies in an Auto Repair Shop

 
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An auto repair shop is an unlikely place to have a profound moment, yet I’ve had two. And with the same person. Is God trying to tell me something? The first time was because of a flat tire. Alex, the shop manager, had a brusque attitude that rubbed me the wrong way and I was preparing to respond to his attitude with a smart remark. Then somehow the subject of church came up. And with the conversation that ensued, I discovered that underneath his curt exterior Alex was a pretty neat guy.

Fast forward one year

I recently went back in the same auto shop to get an oil change. Standing in front of the counter to pay my bill, I recognized Alex. However, he apparently had no memory of our talk because I saw not a flicker of recognition. Okay. Whatever.

As I waited for him to ring up my charges, suddenly something baffling occurred. I become invisible. Seriously. Like Casper the Friendly Ghost invisible. Because these male customers were walking right up to the counter, cutting in front of me and paying their bills while I was standing there like I didn’t exist. Maybe they thought that a woman in an auto shop was such an anomaly that I simply didn’t figure into their realm of comprehension. Maybe their manners were reserved for “hotties” only. Or maybe they were just rude. Dumbfounded, I seethed as this parade of Neanderthals continued to squeeze in front of me. I grew angrier by the minute at their blatant bad manners while simultaneously building up a steady steam of resentment at Alex, who was permitting them to do this.

An invisible woman with PMS is a dangerous thing
I started imagining what I would say to Alex. If he ever noticed me, that is. The smart remark, the sharp retort, the acid comeback. I’d make him feel bad for making me feel so invisible. So insignificant.

When the swarm of customers was gone, at last he started ringing up my paperwork. Finally! I returned his acknowledgement with a hostile look, shooting little death daggers from my pupils as he tallied up the charges. I was still trying to select the most effective stinging remark when casually he mentioned that he was giving me a 40% discount because I was one of his favorite regulars and always such a pleasure to deal with. Then he started chatting about the weekend he had arranged for his wife. He told me about the getaway cabin he had booked, the surprise celebratory dinner he had planned, and how excited he was about this mini-vacation It was a special occasion, he announced with an ear-splitting grin, because she was pregnant with their third child. Imagine that!

Imagine that
And with a jolt, I realized that Alex hadn’t been ignoring me because I was invisible or insignificant. He had been saving me because he thought I was special and he wanted to share his good news. I said a silent prayer of thanks that God had helped me bite my lip while Alex rambled on, about the weekend, his wife, and their future “little mechanic”.

They didn’t know if they were having a boy or a girl, he said enthusiastically, because they wanted it to be a surprise.
“Wouldn’t you agree,” he asked, “these days there aren’t many ways to be surprised?”
Oh, I don’t know about that. Who would expect an auto repair shop that serves humble pie?

 
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The Author : Eileen Mitchell
Eileen Mitchell writes from Northern California.
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