I'm convinced that I've found the world's best mechanic. Is there a reality show searching for such a person? I haven't got his name just yet, but he works at the local Mobil station. He sort of reminds me of the insane mechanic from Seinfeld who becomes obsessed with every detail of Jerry's car and feels justified in carnapping it for the well-being of the automobile. But picture a sane, equally-obsessed version of that caricature. Physically he could be a coal-miner in a Charlie Chaplin-era film, eyes clean and nothing else. Shirt open to the third button, scraggly, his face a blur of stubble and grease, he wants nothing more than to tend to the car--check the oil, peer under the hood. His explanations are thorough to a fault, a veritable encyclopedia of maintenance. He checks my tires, says they're at 30, normal is 32, they're listed at 35, not to worry, pressure is normal for this type of tire, the front right one has a bit of a ding but that is normal, too, since that's what gets the brunt of the curb when parking. When he changes my oil, he talks me through the vicious cycle of motor oil depletion, warning me that my use of the extended mileage oil might have actually worked against me, since once it took in some impurities, it likely started to overheat, and then this would have in turn caused overheating of the engine etc.
It's the passion and seriousness with which he explains these things that impresses me most. I give him a dollar tip, and afterward he volunteers to check all four tires for me, which takes him another five minutes. At the end of all this, he says, "Thanks for the tip," which feels unworthy by now.