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Good-bye and thank you to a commuter’s friend

This sign posted a sad announcement for many of the patrons at Wayne’s Midas shop in Port Jervis, NY.
TRR photo by Tom Caska

July 24, 2013

It is said, “A good man is hard to find”—especially if he is a car mechanic. It is with a heavy heart I viewed the sign at Wayne’s Midas in Port Jervis, NY that said they were closing because they lost their lease. Wayne is not only a good mechanic but a good man as well.

Located a short walk from the train station in Port Jervis, it was always a great convenience for this commuter to be able to drop off my truck in the morning and still make the 5:05 a.m. train. I would faithfully get a call around 2:30 p.m. that my truck was ready and the key was locked inside.

In the Upper Delaware River Valley having a reliable car is mandatory, even more so if, like me, you have a 20-minute ride in all kinds of weather to catch a train.

There are few things in life we have come to depend on: cell phone service, gas for our cars, electricity—you know, simple basic things. The complex things such as a good dentist, a good barber or hairdresser, an auto mechanic affect the personal space of our lives.

Think about it: if you have a tooth ache you want a dentist you can trust, one who makes the bad news sound good (even though you know it’s not). Having a bad hair day? There is your trusted stylist to pull you together before that “Kodak” moment.

When your car starts making noise or those lights come on (you know which lights I mean), having a good mechanic is more important than cell phone service, gas and electricity. I have lived with a toothache, bad hair, no gas or electricity, but no car?! Arrrg!

Wayne has a way in his voice; from the moment he picks up the phone you know everything will be okay. When NJ Transit trains are having a bad day you get a “canned” recording that leaves you with a feeling of dread for your trip. The conductors are not much help, since they are depending on information coming from Hoboken, NJ, 90 miles away. When a train breaks down, I wish we had Wayne on board just to tell us everything would be fine. Even with bad news he has a way that makes you feel okay about it.

When my dad was fixing the family car, he could do it in the driveway with his trusty box of Craftsman wrenches. Today’s automobiles might as well be space ships for all the technology they have on board.

Drivers need to do a systems check every time they fire their “rocket” up, as though we are at Cape Canaveral. Mirrors, check; seatbelts, check; gas, check; onboard gizmos, check. Modern mechanics rely more on computerized diagnostics and must be skilled in electronics as much as in the actual mechanics involved.

Geeze, I wonder where we are going with these horseless carriages anyway?