I Am Sad

Fakename has had a bad week, for many reasons, but it started Monday morning while driving to work.  The BP station I pass daily about halfway between my house and my office was empty and shuttered.  The sign which normally says something like “Mechanic On Duty” read “Closed”.  I had a bad feeling about this, because I was pretty sure that station was owned by the same people who own the BP station downtown where Jeff the Mechanic works.  Sure enough, my worst fears were confirmed. 

Plastic bags covered the hose nozzles.  No lights in the tiny “store”, and all the shelves were empty.  Doors into the repair bays closed and padlocked. 

I most recently mentioned Jeff the Mechanic in my post Worm Grunting Part 2, Dilbert, and PSI.  I took the Baby Toyota by to introduce him to it (and to get air in the tires).  This is the guy who kept my dying Camaro alive for at least a year past its expiration date.  Who said when pronouncing its death sentence…I could fix your latest problem, but I don’t want to.  It would be like stealing your money.  You need a new car. 

He’s the guy who oohed and aahed over the vvti (variable valve timing with intelligence ) engine technology in the Baby Toyota, and tried mightily to explain it to me.  It has something to do with cams.  He probably didn’t notice my eyes rolling back in my head.  As I finally understood it, vvti has something to do with the car’s ability to exert power when needed and to save power when it isn’t needed.  Ergo, the gas mileage thing.  At least he never treated me like an idiot. even though he should have.  He did yell at me a time or two, but we got past that. 

He was also a blue-collar philosopher.  He had an opinion about everything.  He, like me, was an Obama supporter before it was cool.  One day he said, “What this country needs is protectionism!”  I refer you to the State of the Union address, where now President Obama said, “We need to reward companies who keep jobs here, rather than giving tax breaks to companies which ship jobs overseas.”  I don’t claim to know if that would work or not.  It’s a complex issue.   What I’m lauding is the fact that Jeff the Mechanic gave it some thought.

I don’t really know Jeff the Mechanic personally.  The sum total of what I know about him personally is that he’s married and his wife drives a Volvo.  I think, but don’t know, that he was an independent contractor in his position as the mechanic for this BP station.  I believe that his future is safe, since in light of the economy, people are keeping their cars longer.  Perhaps the BP station will even reopen under new ownership and he will be back.  But I’m not counting on it. 

Operating a service station, at least in Florida, is one of the riskiest things you can do besides operating a restaurant. 

The important thing is, I was seriously pained by seeing that Jeff the Mechanic was gone.  Despite not knowing him personally, he was one of those people who brightened my workday world, just knowing he was out there.  I spent many hours in his company, back in the Camaro days.  He worked, and I sat in a greasy canvas chair in the repair bay reading a book.  Occasionally it would be over lunch, which would consist for me of peanut butter and cheese crackers and a Yoohoo from the store attached.  Now and then one of us would raise our heads and say, “Did you ever think about….?”

My suspicion is that I will never see him again.  It’s not like I’m living in a city teeming with millions of people, but the odds remain great.  Tallahassee has about 190,000 people in the city proper and 250,000 or so with the city and county population combined.  Plus, I don’t need to frequent mechanics anymore.  I won’t be dropping in to some other service station where I will accidentally run into him. 

My feelings about this are a serious window into my emotional life, and reveal a lot more about me than I usually care to share.  Connections, in my opinion, are both rare and fragile.  Once I make one, I can’t bear to give it up, as the people who know me best and for the longest time can attest. 

So, Jeff the Mechanic is a broken connection.  I’m highly unlikely to run into him again unless he shops at Publix.

32 responses to “I Am Sad

  1. masteroftheuniverse

    Everyone shops at Publix:)

  2. “Not everybody does it, but everybody should” (George Michael).

  3. I’m sorry that you feel bad and sad. But instead of being sad, you should be angry.

    See the link below for an explanation why your local BP stations closed.

    Then, think about the national impact on jobs, families and the economy that these sorts of heavy-handed regulations are having….


  4. Damn…I had no idea. It’s sad that someone from New York has to explain gas stations closing in Florida to me 🙂 And yet, and yet…they have had since 1992? It’s a way to protect groundwater…you think that’s a bad thing? You think it’s “heavy-handed regulation” to give people 16 years to correct groundwater intrusion? Fakename throws her hands up in the air and affects a puzzled expression.

  5. > his wife drives a Volvo

    Well, that explains his Obama support! His wife’s a Volvo liberal! lol!

    As for protectionism, that’s ironic. Because BP is “British Petroleum.” The furriners gave him a job! And the tree huggers took it away!

    I don’t pray, but if I did… I pray every tree along Meridian from about I-10 to John Knox gets wiped out so they can four-lane it. They want tree-canopied roads but go right on permitting development despite incapacity of the roads to handle the new traffic. I often wait for over 50 cars (yes I counted) too pass before I can turn onto Meridian during my weekday commute.

    That’s one reason why I’m voting for Amendment 4 (Hometown Democracy). Then, I can vote “hell no” to any Comp Plan change in my back yard. And they’ve tried some doozies but the neighborhood rose up and they backed off. Until they can slip it through when they think no one’s paying attention.

    Trusting elected officials with growth management is like trusting a liquor store to an alcoholic. Time we put them on a cold turkey plan. NO GROWTH!

  6. Fakename: Leaking underground oil tanks are obviously a risk for groundwater, however, there are other techniques to address this that cause much much less than $400,000.

    On approach is to drill several small bore holes around a bureid tank (I think they’re called test wells) and place detectors in them — which alert an owner to a leak so prompt action can be taken to drain the tank before any environmental harm is caused.

    No tank is completely leakproof; they all corrode. There are subsidence problems. Even earthquakes. I’ll bet a wooden nickel that the backers of that bill, 16 years ago, had some financial interest in the tank remediation business.

    I live in a part of the country where leaking underground residential oil tanks are a potential risk. But our absurd County regulations have created a burgeoning residential hazmat industry. Maybe your mechanic pal will end up trading in his spanner for a white plastic suit with a respirator!

  7. Fakename: Here’s another spin (from another blog) … which I’m passing along. I have no opinion on it. Just FYI:

    It’s not about drinking water. We have something called water processing plants. If it were about the environment, any damage would have been evident by now. This is about the large corporations using government regulations to force their competition out of business. My grandfather would have to incur a $500,000 cost just to stay in business. At current price structures he could not recoup that cost, so get ready for shortages and sky-rocketing prices. What’s more as an independent owner he is not sufficiently capitalized to receive a business loan to cover this expense.

    Read more: http://www.city-data.com/forum/miami/757517-anyone-notice-how-many-gas-stations.html#ixzz0e9RrpO2H

  8. masteroftheuniverse

    Rocky, Here in Fl, it’s all about replacing those damn tanks. In the little suburb of Sarasota I live in, we had 4 gas stations a year ago. Now we’re down to the 7/11 which is a corporate store and changed their tanks out last year. The little guy got squeezed out as it’s my understanding that changing put tanks is a pretty big expense……at least for the little guy. I’d go with your prescience and assume that someone drafting that law had friends or family that would benefit.

  9. Rocky: Fakename concludes that you are a cynic. And you too, Jeff 🙂 Meanwhile, Fakename is tip-toeing through the tulips, singing Tralala. Or not. I will have more to say, later.

  10. Meanwhile, it’s 8 degrees F outside, and our boiler just blew — gushing hot water into the basement. Fortunately, I heard odd sounds in the pipes, noticed the problem and shut off all the valves. Unfortunately, the heating company won’t be here until 3 or 4 in the morning. Ah, the joys of Florida!

  11. masteroftheuniverse

    One feels great empathy towards Rocky. The wimp heaters here in Fl tend to go down much more often than their counterparts in the north. For some reason the heating/AC business is steady year round.

    Luckily it has never reached 8 degrees in this area in modern times. However, this idiotic person will be putting himself back into the cold really soon.


  12. The boiled repair guy arrived around 3am to find me huddled under a genuine 30-year-old Hudson Bay Blanket.

    He discovered that the “diaphragm inside of the expansion tank had ruptured,” and the expansion tank needed replacement. Fortunately, he always keeps a spare expansion tank in his truck. (He didn’t say whether he keeps spare diaphragms in his truck.)

    The repair took about 15 minutes, and I bid the mid-night visitor adieu.

    However, the house (built in 1750) has been retro-fitted with seven heating zones — including the hot water zone. And when the hot water zone is running, no heat is sent to the rest of the house. Unwilling to go to sleep until the radiators had begun to warm, I huddled for another 25 minutes until the hot water tank reached 135 degrees — and then finally heat began to rise through the rest of the house. At 4:00am, I got to sleep. No frozen pipes and minimal water leakeage — thank goodness I was home to fix this!

  13. Ack!@ boiler woes in 8 degree weather! This reminds Fakename of a story (as do most things). Two stories in fact. While living in Iowa for two years, the only time I’ve ever lived outside the South, I came home from my photography class one evening around 9:30-ish and upon opening the door was met with a blast of hellish heat. The thermostat on the furnace had become stuck and it was 100+ degrees inside the house. The dog was half-dead and panting his guts out; the metal backs of the dining room chairs were too hot to touch; and it smelled as if the furniture were about to burst into flames. The landlord came over and the only thing to be done was disconnect the furnace until a new thermostat could be purchased the next day. After sitting on the porch for a while to cool off, the dog and I remained toasty for the rest of the evening.

  14. Story #2. My neighbor across the street was quite the redneck (yes, there are rednecks in Iowa), but he had his own snowplow and every time it snowed he would plow my driveway. It took me a while to figure out who was doing it, as it appeared I had my own personal snowplow fairy. He refused to take any money for it, so I would bake cookies or pies (this is where I learned to make rhubarb pie! It grew in my back yard) from time to time and take them over to his wife. He also had a gaggle of little kids. One night I came home from the aforementioned photography class and his house was completely surrounded by crime scene tape and the little side street next to his house was also cordoned off. There was an ambulance on the side street and police cars everywhere.
    I tried to wheedle out the reason for all this from one of the police officers but he wouldn’t tell me. I had to read about it in the paper the next day. It seems my neighbor had had a party (very common) and one of the guests started some sort of drunken altercation and was asked to leave. He stumbled out to his car parked on the side street, passed out, and froze to death. Here’s the kicker: they arrested my neighbor for murder! I thought that was extreme! I never did find out what happened to him, because I left Iowa before he went on trial.

  15. Steve, funny you should mention Amendment 4. I was just about to do a blog about it.
    And back to gas stations. Taxes on gasoline in FL are extemely high, to the point where in order to be the least bit competitive, owners must sell it practically at cost. I know many people who drive to Georgia (which isn’t that far) to buy gas. Therefore the only way station owners make any profit is through the convenience store operations. This particular BP station had only a tiny convenience store area; it’s obvious that it used to be an office. And there are only so many packs of Doritos and Yoohoos you can sell.

    • > Amendment 4. I was just about to do a blog

      That’d be way too early to influence the election!

      I’m waiting until the Sunday before the Tuesday election for my populist propaganda bombshell, (which I will duplicate on TDO in a rare guest appearance) because it has been proven to work!

      I don’t believe you were in Tallahicky way back when, at the request of the editorial board, I wrote the “con” column for the Demagogue opposing the creation of a City-County consolidation study committee. I was also interviewed on FSU radio by Beth whoever.

      Not sure how I became “da man” on that issue because I belonged to no group. Perhaps a well written letter to the Editor opposing it before it became a ballot proposal may have put my name in a database as someone to go back to on the “con” side.

      As you’ve noted, you do not want to be in front of me in a fight. The proposal was defeated. I should have noted that in my “Power of One” post but I forgot about it until now. Too many victories, not enough memory…! 😉

      While the “pro” side talked vaguely about possible benefits, I came out swinging with hard questions and the hated “T” word – tax increase. Because if there is consolidation, then “we” (City residents) will have to pay for all sorts of things for non-City residents: sewer, bus service extension, et. al since we are now “one” but the County has few services.

      The way to consolidation, I said, was through “natural” consolidation, the gradual annexation of the County as it urbanized, not some unnatural Frankenstein that merged city and county, with separate concerns, into a single entity.

      So I gave proponents a way to vote against the proposal and think that they had not walked away from supporting consolidation. Divide and conquer…
      Victory, by any means necessary.

      If you oppose Amendment 4, then please blog your opposition now so in November no one will remember what you said! 😉

      And if you oppose Amdenment 4, please set forth all the “logical” arguments against it. You will have no rebuttal from me. We are talking an emotional issue here. This is where I have an advantage.

      The fact that it is even on the ballot shows how pissed off the public is, and rightly so, with the failure of growth management (that’s not just me, but the DCA Secretary, the agency responsible for growth management, who said it) and the kow towing of pathetic politicians to development interests.

      That is why Amendment 4 will get a majority of votes. But whether it gets the 60% is another issue. (The amendment requiring 60% on amendments didn’t get 60%. Hypocrites!)

      But how the votes go in each county will help identify which counties we can go back to and enact “local” Amendment 4s.

      To the barricades!

  16. Fakename will be at the barricades! Standing right behind you 🙂
    See my new post: Political Schizophrenia.

  17. Fakename: I don’t know anything about Proposition 4 — and I know even less about Florida politics, except for the fact that you guys wonderfully have no state income tax and comparatively low other taxes versus NY/NJ/CA/MA. And, until very recently, you were experiencing remarkable and consistent net positive population growth (at the expense of colder northern states.)

    But, there are some challenges that I simply cannot resist.

    Ignorance not withstanding (which of course is also definitionally bliss), and setting aside the fact that I have no clue what you and Spencercourt are writing about, I nonetheless feel compelled to take the other side of anyone who writes things like “victory by any means necessary” and “to the barricades” without a “;)” at the end of the sentence.

    Personally, I think your wish for growth management will be realized. But it will be because the population growth rate into Florida has fallen off a cliff — not because the revolutionaries have taken to the streets.

    Unfortunately, this may also have other negative consequences (taxes, property prices, employment etc) — so be careful what you wish for.

    Lastly, and for the record, I end this comment, with a ;).

  18. Fakename,Hi from downunder , we have the same dilemma here in Perth with the gas stations , the little man has almost disappeared ..taken over by the likes of BP etc…. our gas prices are huge, we pay $1.29 per litre ( 4.55 gals per litre )

  19. Tsk, tsk, Rocky. What is Fakename to do with you lol. She does not claim to know you very well, but well enough to read between the lines.
    I ask you this: why is net population growth a good thing? Why is “growth” itself a good goal? You can only be “for” population growth if you’re looking for a bigger tax base, and I thought you and Jeff were against taxes. The ball is now in your court. “Growth” is the problem.
    Fakename prides herself on writing a blog where all (okay, most) opinions are welcomed. I would be much poorer and less well-informed if you and Jeff had not chosen to comment.
    Also, welcome to my newest friend Alix, who is a friend of Jeff’s from Facebook. That’s why they call it social networking!

  20. Tsk, tsk, Fakename. 😉

    My answer has nothing to do with taxes, government, economic policy, Democratics, Republicans, Commies or Vegetarians. It’s much much much older than that.

    Genesis 1:28

  21. masteroftheuniverse

    And for a New Testament take on my opinion of taxes, see Luke 20:25

  22. Hmm. Fakename is not exactly an atheist, in the same vein as she is not exactly a liberal. She considers herself to be very tolerant, but when you start quoting Bible verses at her, she either wants to go all postal, or else hide under a blanket with the cat.

  23. masteroftheuniverse

    Instead of biblical quotes, would you like relevant quotes from the Koran, Bhagavad gita, Epic of Giglamesh, Rigveda, or book or Mormon.it can be arranged and are readily available at my fingertips. If religious texts aren’t your thing, I can cite classical with Cicero, or contemporary with the Federalist Papers(among many others). Doesn’t matter, they all say the same thing, just worded differently:)

  24. And that blanket would not be a genuine Hudson Bay blanket. I always wanted one! But I would have had to take out a loan, and who in their right minds would give me credit? Plus, the cat doesn’t care. She isn’t really into fashion, or history. She would sleep under a shredded palm frond if it kept her warm. Now that I think about it, me too.

  25. No, Jeff. What I would like is to continue to hear your opinions without you buttressing them with magical and imaginary backup. Your beliefs may sustain you in some way, but they don’t make me take them any more seriously. In fact, less.

  26. masteroftheuniverse

    That’s cool, but I did the sacred texts thing to figure out where you were, that’s all. After I heard you dismiss Rocky’s rationality, I figured that you might be into mysticism. I didn’t know, but don’t wish to turn this into a religious debate. However, you might want to re-read what your last two lines said…Pretty insulting.

    One thing I’ve always wondered…..why religion and religious beliefs can be insulted in common conversations (and is encouraged these days), but any challenge to the agnostic/atheistic system is met with total rancor, insults, and general snark.

  27. What? You are scaring me. Sacred texts? I do not and have never dismissed Rocky’s “rationality”, nor yours. I have great respect for you both. I have never insulted either of you and you should reread everything I ever said to prove it.
    But now you have hurt my feelings. I try very hard to be to be inclusive, since as I always aay, if we can’t’ talk to each other we are doomed.

  28. masteroftheuniverse

    Well, your comment of Your beliefs may sustain you in some way, but they don’t make me take them any more seriously. In fact, less. hurt me first, so I guess we’re even. I didn’t mean to hurt your feelings at all.

  29. We are not even close to even.

  30. Firstly, no insult towards Fakename is intended.

    Secondly, I ask the rhetorical question: Why should one feel comfortable quoting contemporary (or ancient) scholars, scientists, politicians and others — but when one cites a chapter and verse from a “holy” text, people get the heebie-geebies? Noone is bible-thumping or yelling brimstone&fire here. But on the other hand, shouldn’t we give the same due diligence to a “holy” text as we give to a contemporary text?

    The question on the table was about growth. I suspect that if I used the texts of Darwin or Plato or Marx etc as the justification for population growth, the response might be quite different than if I used the Bible. It’s worth acknowledging this difference not because one is necessarily right or wrong — but rather, it shows our biases.

  31. That is a thought-provoking question, Rocky. So I will think about it. But bias is definitely involved, I don’t see how I can deny that.

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