Full Service by Royce A Ratterman
“A full service, son,” demanded the stranger emphatically to the ace mechanic pumping gas into his treasured vintage Ford sedan. “No skimping on anything. I expect the best of everything.”
The handsomely uniformed young man simply nodded in agreement to the elderly fellow before opening the hood to check the vehicle’s vital fluids and mechanical stability.
“What’s your name, boy” questioned the man out of his window loudly, “I always like to know who’s working on my vehicle, you know.”
“Jairo, sir, simply Jairo,” came the reply from under the hood.
“What kind of a name is that, son?”
Jairo secured the hood of the vehicle and stepped to the driver’s side window, “It is found most often among Spanish cultures, sir. From Hebrew origin, I believe. It can mean ‘God enlightens’ or what my father meant for it to mean . . . ‘A son to brighten my life’.”
“That’s nice, young man, real nice. How’s everything look under the hood?”
“Just fine, sir. Everything is in order.”
“What’s your specialty, young man?” asked the stranger with way too many questions.
“Yes, I mean the types of vehicles you prefer to work on and have a kind of knack for, you know.”
Jairo replied to the curious man sitting behind the vehicle’s steering wheel, “Fords, sir. I am the area mechanic assigned to their driver’s final full service.”
“There’s a lot of Fords here in South SF these days,” replied the man. “You’ve got a lifetime of work ahead of you, son.”
Jairo tipped his black-billed blue service station uniform hat to the man, collected the payment for services rendered, then bid the stranger farewell, “Have a great day sir. I know you will.”
After the stranger drove away from 215 South Maple Avenue in his vintage Ford sedan he was never heard from again.
~ ~ ~
“Paint . . . you do touchup painting, boy?” asked the gray-haired man in the 1941 Ford after he pulled the vehicle with the scraped fender into the gas station’s lot.
Jairo promptly replied, “The best in town, sir. The best in town.”
“Got time today for a touchup?”
“No time like the present, I say,” answered Jairo. “Pull the car in over there.”
“Heavenly,” exclaimed the man as he quickly drove his damaged vehicle into the garage area the attendant had pointed out to him. He never returned home.
~ ~ ~
On another chilly weekday morning a black and white unit pulled into the lot for gas and a full service check. It seemed that the police station’s regular mechanic was out sick and the officers needed to assure that their vehicle was ‘street ready’ before commencing their shift. The two cops received the best service of their lives from Jairo that day. But after they failed to respond to radio calls and did not return to their headquarters, an all out investigation was implemented to search for the two law enforcement officers and their Ford police unit. Headlines days later read, “Tragic Patrol Accident - Local Police Officers Killed.”
~ ~ ~
A top-notch mechanic for as long as he could remember, Jairo always did his best to please his customers and honor his trade.
The old service station had a central entry door accompanied by large windows to each side. Two pumps adorned the tiny entry sidewalk along the two large front windows. Faded white walls augmented with dingy rose trim were the exterior’s decor. A lonely place with an abandoned look.
~ ~ ~
One hot South San Francisco afternoon a tearful young woman entered the service station lot in her beautifully manicured Model-A. She asked the attendant, “Can I get a full service?” to which he replied, “It will be quite some time, ma’am.”
“Busy, huh?” commented the woman.
“Is everything alright, ma’am? You look a bit distressed. Can I help in any way?” questioned Jairo.
“Oh, it’s this letter,” she replied, holding up an official looking white envelope, “I guess telling a stranger is easier than telling my family and friends. I’m afraid to open it.”
“Sometimes it’s best to face life head on and live it to its fullest.”
Looking up at Jairo with her tearful eyes she replied, “Well, mister, last week I got some really terrible bad news from my doctor. Odds are not good for me, you see. My doctor took some tests and the results are in this envelope. That’s why I’m afraid to open it.”
Jairo encouragingly replied, “Ah, ma’am, there are folks down in Vegas right now winning huge jackpots with worse odds than you have. Open it. You’ll ease you mind and heart, miss, trust me. Anyway, no doctor would send bad news in a letter, would they now.”
The woman placed the envelope on the seat next to her and stared at it for a while. Tears flowed as she slowly tore the envelope open. Sighs of relief echoed as she read the good news. “It’s not my time yet.”
When she looked up to thank the attendant she noticed that the station was abandoned. Only cracked asphalt, broken front windows and a missing front entry door remained. The woman exited her Ford and questioned an employee of a neighboring establishment regarding the service station. He simply responded, “Ma’am, that station’s been closed for years. Ain’t been nobody there since I can remember.”
Looking in her rearview mirror as she drove away, the woman caught a glimpse of the same uniformed man standing in the abandoned station behind her. She gently waved her hand . . . the man did the same.
~ ~ ~
“Welcome sir!” greeted Jairo to a teenager in a ’32 Ford Deuce Coupe hotrod, “Full service?”
“Yeah, yeah. Hey, is your boss around, mister?”
Jairo smiled and replied, “You’ll be meeting him very soon, son. Very soon!”
Royce Ratterman's story was almost familiar in an Agatha Christie way. There's a story about a desert traveling merchant who saw death at one town and fled. When he got to the well at the next town, death was there, both were surprised to see each other. "Death replied, I was surprised to see you before because I had an appointment with you here."