SHOP TALK: My Garage, My Sanctuary
There is something about a garage. It’s a place where gearheads gather and bond like cavemen around a fire. It’s a place where hard earned dollars are spent fixing or improving a prized possession. It’s a place where ideas and ingenuity come together. It’s a place where fingers get dirty and knuckles get bloody. It’s a place where a fortune of tools are stored just waiting to be called upon to make the next repair a bit easier. It’s a place that my heart and soul longs for. It’s a place that at 3:00am when I can't sleep, I sneak into and clear my thoughts. I feel bad for those who use this sanctuary to simply store household junk. To some extent my garage ranks higher than my racecar. The racecar needs the garage while the garage only needs to be appreciated and respected for what it is capable of performing next. Yes my friends, I have it bad! My checker board-tiled floor gets mopped after every job. I like things neat and clean and my car and garage reflect this sickness I proudly carry.
This past weekend my shop provided me with an opportunity to bond and re-connect with my cousin while he visited for a few days. He helped me completely re-do the fuel system on my car. We dropped the fuel cell and cleaned out the debris inside. We sanded and painted the fuel cell. We rebuilt the fuel pump, replaced the fuel filter, cleaned out every braided line, replaced the regulator, and most important reminded us that although we are both 50, we picked up where we left off when we were 18. The miles may have separated us, but our friendship and passion for cars kept us together. I laughed like a teenager watching him try to siphon the 112 octane out of my fuel cell coughing and spitting the entire time. This gesture is something only a true friend would do or in this case family. We fist bumped numerous times throughout the repair and after each time a primitive bonding took place. We talked about how much we missed our dads and how important my dad was in making me the mechanic I am today. His genius was on a level of his own and I was the fortunate one to serve my apprenticeship under him. He would not only love my car, but he would be extremely impressed with the shop I have been blessed to build over the years.
My garage is a place where I get to share the very same lessons my dad taught me with my daughter. Yes, my daughter! She is my little buddy and is becoming quite the motor head. She knew the name of most every tool by the time she was 8. She knew the name and purpose of every fastener and was more than happy to show her knowledge to everyone who entered our garage. I still treat my little princess like Cinderella and play her girlie games, but there is a time to take her fishing, hunting, and four wheeling also. There is also a time to spend some quality shop time together. These are the times I cherish and remember the most about my dad and I pray she will follow in the family tradition.
If your significant other has ever wondered why most garages have extra chairs or a table, it’s because it welcomes the camaraderie of other gearheads. This time could have been spent elsewhere. Common garage alternatives are places like pool halls, strip clubs, or worse yet, the couch. Over the years my wife has grown to accept my sickness for my sanctuary and the addiction to buy tools. She recently helped me install a pair of Kirkey racing seats and she personally painted my 10 point roll cage by herself. For that brief moment in time, she was not just my wife. She was my friend again and the girl that I fell in love with. She may not know this until she reads this article, but it is true. Plain and simple people bond while spending time in a garage. This column will be dedicated to the spirit of the garage and I will do my best to share my "Shop Talk" with all of you. Until the next time we meet, I urge you to clear the household clutter from your garage and make some room to fix the lawnmower at first. As the gearhead in you begins to grow, work your way up to changing your own oil. Call a neighbor up and make it a 3,000 mile ritual that the two of you share. Before long, the local Snap On, Mac, and Matco tool truck will be pulling in your driveway teasing you with the latest and greatest tools that are just looking for someone to use them and give them a place to live.