The alarm startled and woke the tattered old mechanic. “You’d think I’d be accustomed to this redundant lifestyle by now” he lamented. He slapped on the beeping machine with his rough hand dreading the beginning of his daily routine.
Another late client. Punctuality seemed to be a dwindling priority. “Is my time not as precious as others’?” he thought angrily. Values were changing. The rise of technology foretold the fall of man; Some sort of twisted equilibrium. Still, the tired mechanic did not change his ways. He did not adapt. He did not give up.
“Sorry for being late!” said the young man. “My friends told me you’re the best at fixing broken things! I hope you’ll be able to fix my car.” he added. He hoped to appease the old man’s stern gaze with his insincere apology and praise.
“What is the problem?” the mechanic asked bluntly.
“My car is making this weird noise. I think there’s a problem with the engine!” the young man exclaimed.
“That’s not what I meant.”
The client wore a puzzled look. He didn’t say anything, not understanding what the old man wanted of him. He watched him open the hood of his car and start working.
“I already know what’s the problem with your car. I heard the noise as you arrived. You haven’t been taking care of it, have you?… Anyway, what I meant to ask was: What is the problem that is haunting you? Why do you look so sad?”
The young man stood there, aghast. Tears started streaming down his face, flooding the floor.
“This might take some time. I do not mind working in silence, but feel free to talk to me. I can multitask. I am good at fixing things.” the mechanic said breaking the sobbing silence.
The young client felt compelled to answer, to evacuate all the sorrow that haunted his heart. “How did you know that… that I was sad?” he mumbled.
“People don’t take the time to look at people anymore. I can tell when a man is broken. I have seen many broken things. I have been broken too.”
The young man’s tears stopped flowing, startled by this sudden display of wisdom.
“I’m having marital problems… I think my wife is going to leave me.” he said pitying himself.
A small crescent smile stretched on the mechanic’s mouth.
The young man finally mustered the courage necessary to explain his intricate situation. He gave details and examples of his problems. Reasons why he believed his marriage was failing. He talked and the mechanic listened. The latter never stopped working on the broken car. This did not deter the young man from unburdening himself. He felt lighter. He had shared his problems. He was not alone to face them anymore.
The mechanic had not spoken yet. He had listened to the entire story. “You can’t fix something you don’t understand completely” he always told himself.
“Unfortunately, I can’t mend your marriage for you. However, I can help you do it yourself.” he said confidently.
The old mechanic spoke for two straight hours. Wisdom oozed from his mouth. Never did he stop to look at the young man. Never did he wait for his opinion. Never did he stop working on the broken car. Never did he stop multitasking.
The mechanic’s smile had spread. The young man was now jubilant. He was confident he could save his marriage. He knew how to renew his vows. He knew how to love again.
The mechanic stretched out his rough hand and dangled the keys in front of his client.
“How can I ever repay you!?” he exclaimed.
“700$ for the car plus the parts and a smile for the advice.” he answered with a grin.
“That won’t do! My happiness is worth much more than my stupid car!”
The young man advanced hastily towards the wise man and hugged him. Tears of happiness fell on the old man’s shoulder.
“Now you understand…” the old man whispered as he patted his client’s back.
The young man stopped abruptly as he was walking towards his fixed car. He turned towards his savior, the old mechanic.
“Hey mister! May I ask you something?” he said.
“Anything” the wise man answered.
“How do you know so much… I mean.. how do you know how to help people? You know… being a mechanic and all… How do you know how to fix lives when you’ve worked with cars all your life?”
The mechanic showed the young man his bare hands. Old hands. Scarred hands. Rough hands.
The young man’s puzzled expression showed the mechanic he didn’t quite understand his answer.
“My hands are like my soul you see. They have lived many years. They have suffered and bled. They have healed. They have experienced many things. They are scarred and frayed… but they can still fix broken things.” he added.