Auto Service World
Feature   November 1, 2000   by Rick Cogbill a.k.a. Slim Shambles

Moving mountains…

I whistled cheerfully as I dialed the number for Spoke Lee's Alignment Shop. Not that I have a mean streak in me, but I have to admit it felt good to know that this comeback job was somebody else's pr...

I whistled cheerfully as I dialed the number for Spoke Lee’s Alignment Shop. Not that I have a mean streak in me, but I have to admit it felt good to know that this comeback job was somebody else’s problem.

“Alignment Shop; Spoke speakin’.”

“Mornin’, Spoke,” I said, “Slim Shambles here. I hate to tell you this, but that Subaru is back. The owner claims it still pulls to the left.”

The heavy silence on the other end of the line spoke volumes. Spoke was speechless.

I had to give him credit for trying. The little car had been on the alignment rack three times trying to correct this problem, but to no avail.

Finally Spoke got his voice back. “Okay,” he sighed wearily. “Let’s start at the beginning. Tell me the history on this car.”

I went back to the day Big Ben had brought in his Subaru for some much-needed repairs. “Slim, either my eyes are crooked or my car is hanging low on the port side.” Ben reached into his ever-present bag of cookies and grabbed a handful. “Want one?” he offered.

“No thanks, Ben, but I agree that your Subaru is badly in need of a set of springs. I’d suggest we fix that first, then send it over for a wheel alignment to get everything back in line.”

“You’re the doctor,” mumbled Ben, spraying cookie crumbs everywhere. “Could I get a ride home? Don’t feel like walking.”

I looked over Big Ben’s amble frame. No, exercise was not one of his strong points.

The phone crackled to life in my ear, interrupting my musings. “Hold on, Slim. Just how big is this guy?”

I glanced over at Ben sitting astride two chairs in the waiting room. “Uh, big,” I said discreetly into the phone.

“How big!” Spoke hollered back, causing Ben to look up suspiciously.

I pretended to pick something up off the floor. “Real big,” I whispered fiercely into the handset. “Would ya keep it down? The whole shop can hear you!”

Spoke was still hollering. “Like 200 pounds big?”

I winced. Ben had stopped eating, which was a bad sign, and was straining to pick out Spoke’s words. I suspected that weight was a sensitive subject with him.

“Closer to 300,” I mumbled back. “I’ll drop the car off in a few minutes.” I hung up the phone quickly and smiled at Ben innocently. “Just leave it with us, Ben. We’ll get it right this time.”

And we did. Or rather Spoke did. By loading three bags of cement onto the driver’s seat before making any adjustments, he was able to make the car drive straight with Ben behind the wheel. Of course when we drove it, it headed straight for the ditch.

Ben was pleased when he came to pick up the car. “Here, Slim, have a bag of cookies. I’ve decided to go on a diet, and in six months I’m gonna be 100 pounds lighter!”

I groaned. That meant that in six months we’d have to do this all over again, but with one less bag of cement. And not to mention the fact that Spoke wasn’t speaking to me at the present time. Unsure of how to explain all this to Ben without hurting his feelings, I decided to try the subtle approach.

“Ben,” I said casually, munching on a cookie. “Have you every thought of buying a 3/4 ton truck?”

About The Writer

Rick Cogbill is a freelance writer living in the Okanagan valley of Southern British Columbia. A licensed technician with over 24 years in the automotive repair industry, including ten years as a shop owner, Cogbill creates his comic scenarios with Slim, Basil, Tooner, and The Bean out of actual case histories from his shop. “What you have just read is true,” drawls Slim Shambles. “Only the names have been changed to protect my hide!”

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