Taking dings out of the bug
My silver VW Beetle is five or six years old but has only 20,000 miles on it, since I rarely drive far enough to get it out of second gear. Mechanically it is perfect, but its exterior has experienced so many drive-by clips, scrapes and dents that it looks as if it’s a regular participant in demolition derbies.The other day it crossed my mind that maybe I should get the whole body repaired and perhaps a new paint job into the bargain – possibly a nice dark custard, with the wheels painted to look like daisies.As usual with the contemplation of any sort of renovation, this was a fleeting thought, quickly replaced by the anticipation of a week in the shop (probably more, from past experience with all things automotive), a chunk of money I’d rather spend elsewhere and the certain knowledge that I would just be asking to be hit again.There the matter rested until last Friday afternoon when I was resting in bed nursing a rare hangover, just dozing off when my dachshund puppies, Freddie and Nicky set up a serious hew and cry at the back door.I staggered to the door to find a semi-grizzled Latino man, who introduced himself to me as Darren and asked if that were my VW in the alley – said he and his brother were in the body-shop business and wondered if I’d like for them to repair my trademark dents and scrapes.Smelling SCAM, I said I was quite fond of the dents and wasn’t in the market. He said he’d give it a closer look and give me an estimate and went back out the gate, returning momentarily to say that they could do the whole job for $300, in an hour.Being highly dubious that this was possible, I said I’d pass and he instantly dropped the price to $200, adding that if I weren’t satisfied with the job I would pay nothing. If I hadn’t already been considering getting this same work done in a shop, that would have been the end of it but, instead, I suggested that they do just one of dents so I could see the results. No problem.I went back into the house to fill my portable oxygen tank so that I could oversee the operation, and immediately had a sinking spell. Little old lady on oxygen, alone in the house, two baby dachshunds clearly not a threat, next thing I knew I’d be lashed to a kitchen chair with duct-tape over my mouth, my computer and TV sets (such as they are) going out the door.I left a message with a friend, just in case bits of my dismembered body were later found in the garbage disposal and went out to the alley where I was introduced to Darren’s brother Steve. They had already repaired several of the dents, and they chatted merrily with me as they sanded the spots, caulked them with plastic, sanded the plastic and then sprayed it with silver paint.Steve was wearing a T-shirt that read “body shop” where a Polo logo would be and their truck seemed well supplied including a 50-foot coil of extension cord, which they plugged into an outlet on my back porch. The entire operation took less than 45-minutes and, compared to the original, the Beetle looked great!Had my fears sprung from racism? If that had been a scruffy white guy at my back door I wouldn’t even have discussed hiring him so maybe, inversely, it was.After they left, I happily noticed that one large scrape remained on the fender tucked up next to my shed in the alley – insurance, I hope, against further hit-and-run destruction.Su Lum is a longtime local who believes that opporknockity tunes rarely and that, when it does, one should open the door. Her column appears every Wednesday in The Aspen Times.
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