Wednesday, July 26, 2006

A Kindness Among Acquaintances

Here's an example of the advantages of living in a small town--or, at least, how small town people overcome the disadvantages of living in a small town.
Yesterday I decided to change the oil in my Honda. I had the filter, and I had the oil. But my oil drain pan was full, so I went down to the farm supply store, Campbell's, to pour the oil in the tank that sat there free for anyone to pour their used motor oil into. It had a new cap and a lock on the spout. Previously it had been open all times of the day. I went inside and asked about the oil tank. "I'll open it up for you," the guy in the red shirt told me. On our way out, he mentioned that some people would continue pouring oil even when the tank was full, so they needed to control it. He opened the tank and asked me to lock the padlock again when I was done. Their response to the problem wasn't to give up taking oil, or to hover over people as they poured, just to take a minimal step to address the problem.
That's not the end of the story. I returned, drained the oil out of the Honda, and put on the filter. As a precaution I checked my manual (it's the first time I've changed the oil on the Magna), and it mentioned a particular kind of oil I should have--API SG. Mine said SM. The manual said the clutch might be damaged if I didn't have the right oil. So.
It was about 5:35. I thought the parts stores might be open. All three had closed at 5:30. I went to the hardware store; it was open. I explained my dilemma to Jim, the owner (the guy married to the lady who used to be half-owner of the coffee-shop, the friendlier one). Hmm. "Check CarQuest," he said. "I just came from there," I told him. "I don't have this stuff," he said. Yep, small town. "Let me call out do D and R," he said. No answer. He called the owner, who said he would be out to the shop in seven minutes. I drove out to the little building on the edge of town, where a couple of old motorcycles sat in the windon and waited. Here he came, the guy from CarQuest. He found me four quarts of Castrol GTX, meanwhile showing me the shop I'd never been in. "How late are you open?" I asked. "Until ten," he said. "You're just open in the evenings?" No, his son kept the shop open during the day, basically, and he came out himself to work in the evenings. "It's my addiction," he said, "we live and breathe motorcycles."
So he told me about the custom bikes they build and how people still prefer the old rat bike in the window, a primitive Triumph 750 chopper. With that, I wanted to get back and finish my own work on my bike, so, with my good oil, I came home and finished the job with the help of my fellow citizens.

No comments: