Sunday, September 17, 2006

Grand Service

There are some people you come across in life who make you believe in the human spirit. Jerry, our mechanic, is one of those people.
For over thirty years our family has been taking our cars for Jerry to repair and maintain. It was back when my father worked at the Zenith plant on the west side of Chicago. The Grand Service Center was within walking distance so he began taking our cars there to be worked on during the work day. And although my father's workplace changed over the years, we continued to take our cars there. Even though it was out of the way with no convenient access to expressways or public transportation. There was reason for that.
We had the pleasure/misfortune of needing to return to Grand Service during our last trip to Chicago. The car started making horrible noises less than half way to Chitown and we desperately needed to patch it up for the return trip. We needed it done right and as cost efficient as possible, so we took it to Jerry.

So who is Jerry? He's a Vietnam Vet who now runs his own car repair shop with his wife handling the front office. He gives you the straight story about your car. Complete with examples of other times he's seen that or a similar problem. Sometimes they were last week, sometimes years ago. He always gives you back the parts he replaces so he can show you why they needed to be replaced. He walks you through what he has done to determine what the problem is. He showed us how bad the fuel filter was. He drained it and showed us that since you could not blow through it, the filter was finished. He genuinely wants for you to have a correctly running vehicle. Heck, he would even give you stuff for free if his wife as not watching out so that they make what little profit they make. It is the kind of service you would easily pay double if he would accept it. And he's always looking out to get you the best parts for the price. If he relocated to a more convenient location or to a better neighborhood, he could easily make much more money.
But that's it. He's a fixture in the neighborhood. He could never leave. Even though the character of the neighborhood has not changed for the better, he is still there to look out for all his old customers and their now grown up kids. He checks on the elderly and watches out for them. He knows all the local policemen which can be a rarity in the city nowadays.

Jerry is a talkative fellow. No trip to his shop was a short one. He always had a story to tell. And at times it was the same story. We made three trips to his shop and he told us the same story twice. It's not fair to call them stories because they are recollections. He told us how he had convinced an old customer of his who is now elderly that the grocery store was giving away free food. In reality, him and his wife were getting items two for one and giving the second one to her. She's on a fixed income and barely uses her utilities. No TV, only radio with the heat down to 50 degrees in winter. But that is just an example of so many stories he has told us over the years. There is always the latest car story, the latest neighborhood news, or just reminicing about how it was to fix cars in the old days.

It makes you feel good to know that good-hearted people like that are out there and hope that you can someday be the same.

1 comment:

Frank da elder said...

Yes, Jerry is a wonderful man. He cares for people, his customers, neighbors and especially the less fortunate.
I remember once when I was driving a clunker 1966 Old f-85 that was 'totaled' by an insurance company of a co=worker but I bought it for $150.00 and drove it for 8 years when I had some mechanical problems. I took the car to Jerry he fixed the problem on the spot and refused to accept ANY payment!! Although one might say he is a rare breed in today's world I have more faith in the human spirit, no matter where they reside, and feel that there are millions of "Jerry's" in the world today. Their caring human spirit only surfaces when needed, especially in a crisis. Jerry just has his out there , everyday.