A Garage Built on an Old Forge in the 1960’s

Terry TrainorStarred Page By Terry Trainor, 11th Apr 2013 | Follow this author | RSS Feed
Posted in Wikinut>Writing>Short Stories

A story of a garage manager running his rural garage in the 1960's. His garage is a renovated, very old forge and the manager outlines the similarities of the blacksmith and the garage.

The Blacksmith

It is 1964 and I have started a new job. I have brought a new garage and it was built from a renovated old forge. You could say that there is a comparison within the two trades between a rural garage and a blacksmith. The myth surrounding olden day blacksmith’s is steeped in nostalgia as he was an important man in his community he was considered a man among men, the real gentle giant with patience, his work kept him strong. The many processes needed precise skills, understanding priorities and knowing his customers well.

As most of the local rural farming had seasonal tasks, uncompromising crop harvests had to be completed on time. Once the Blacksmith had taken on a job of work he was committed to complete the work on the times specified and deliver value for money and a first class job. Using his many skills, both with his hands and meticulous bookwork, the old blacksmith forged repairs for heavy machinery and machinery for horses to facilitate work that needed doing in the fields that had been done for many hundreds of years.

The Comparison The Blacksmith, The Mechanic

With that ethic he created an environment of mutual trust and respect of his ancient craft. In the Blacksmith’s days his place in the community tested his other skills and he represented an age of uncomplicated morals in a day when everyone knew his or her place. In my new garage those same social attributes are needed, I am a mechanic mending cars and farm vehicles, again my priorities are important, as a field of corn may rot where it stands if a farmer does not have his equipment working and serviced to do the job it was made to do.

This new garage is the pinnacle of technology in this modern age. The garage is worked on the understanding, with a giant oil cartel, which has an international brand image that I will sell their merchandise. The biggest problem for a commercial garage is the low, local, population count. So to supplement its small margin from petrol sales I have begun to sell tyres, batteries with other accessories and oil. The work, like the Blacksmith is hard with long hours but it is rewarding and I hope to gain a good reputation and become respected by the local community as we all understand that reputation is everything, no good reputation, no work.

Petrol in the 1960's and Low Margins

Today, in the 1960’s the margin on a motor-cycle battery is about the same selling thirty gallons petrol. Just think that could be thirty trips to the pump in all weathers, hanging around while customers fumble about in their pockets looking for their money or the right change. Then checking the tyres, take it from me selling petrol does not make you rich. Having said that there is a charm in a country garage and it is the norm to be on first name terms. But I must admit my charm wears a bit thin at the end of the day. It’s a long old day from 07.30 hours to 23.00 hours, and that’s seven days a week. This is the only way I can get by as the petrol margin is so small the garage cannot afford to take on extra staff.

In my line of work I need to keep up to date, and the government has began to grade petrol. Most cars would run happily on three star petrol (assuming the timing was set correctly) but most motorists seemed to believe that four star is 'better'. As my station is small, we have two petrol pumps out front and a diesel one round the side. We offer three and four star grades,

Hard Work

Do you know that after about 9pm I am so tired I drop my spanners, give the wrong change and lose track of the days. When I turn off the pump lights it’s straight to bed. No pubs, although they close at 10.30 pm, no idle chatting, just a quick cuppa then bed. The problem is that when I get to bed my mind is still turning and thinking, bad debts, customers taking too long to pay their bills. I wonder if the old blacksmith had the same problems. I wonder what excuse customers had in his day instead of the old chestnut, ‘I don’t seem to have my cheque-book with me, I’ll settle up next time I’m passing’. I bet he drives a hundred mile detour not to pass. So I have to be so very carefull with my credit rules, but they has to be a compramise solution as saying no to a rural, local customer can ruin your business once the word is out that there is a lack of trust.

Fortunately I didn’t start off giving petrol credit, if it had been so the garage would have gone under. People are people, when they buy a pounds worth of petrol it costs them a pound and they don’t think that is much money so they ‘happily’ pay. If they had an account and it cost them £20 to settle up they would resent paying such large amounts. It would make them angry no matter that they used that much of petrol. They would be moaning all day and when they met someone they would moan to that someone. In a small community word would get around and it would be me that gets the bad name. The bills would mount up even higher if they got their cigarettes on the account or a son or a wife bought something and put it on the account that would be even worse.

Managing the Near Unmanagable

So trust is very important and that takes me back to the credit issue again. Credit can bring on a shed load of problems. A major problem is that if someone owes me money they feel guilty about not paying on time and drive to another garage. Kindness can kill a little business dead. Even so it is good to work for myself and not to live in a two up two down house in a town would be boring. I have been their and done that, gardening on a Saturday after a few hours around the shops. But I take a little comfort from working on the understanding that the giant oil company paints my pumps and gives me free overalls for not selling competitors oils and petrol. And I bet the owner of the giant company lives in a great big London Skyscraper that has a spare room as big as my garage. Now somewhere in this story there is a moral, my problem is I just don't know what it is. I wonder what garages, their work, their petrol margins and their credit system for petrol will be like in fifty years time. It makes you think, doesn't it.

Tags

Accessories, Accessory, Blacksmith, Community, Forge, Garage, Hard Work, Petrol, Rural

Meet the author

author avatar Terry Trainor
I am a Poet.
My passion is to write about nature and the history of nature.

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Comments

author avatar Terry Trainor
11th Apr 2013 (#)

Thank you Mark

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author avatar Mark Gordon Brown
11th Apr 2013 (#)

What a wonderful story and yes, a person surely wonders about the future. I have added this to Google + and will add to Facebook.

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author avatar Terry Trainor
12th Apr 2013 (#)

Thamks for you great comments Mark.

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author avatar cnwriter..carolina
11th Apr 2013 (#)

this is once again a fabulous piece Terry... I love the way you afford us fond memories...

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author avatar Terry Trainor
12th Apr 2013 (#)

You are such a kind person cn, thank you.

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author avatar cnwriter..carolina
11th Apr 2013 (#)

and I meant to write friend (not fiend!!!)

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author avatar Terry Trainor
12th Apr 2013 (#)

What lies deep in your subconsious cn.

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author avatar Delicia Powers
12th Apr 2013 (#)

Wonderful read:0) thanks Terry!

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author avatar Terry Trainor
12th Apr 2013 (#)

Thank you Delicia

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author avatar Stella Mitchell
12th Apr 2013 (#)

They were the days , they were, Terry .Having someone fill up for you , and then checking the oil and water and even tires if there were no other customers .what a life !! My Mum ,dad, brother dog and me all crammed in an Austin Seven , and taking nine hours to get to Devon for the holidays . I was invariably sick on the journey . Can't think why ? I enjoyed your story .Excellent.
Bless you .
Stella >I<

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author avatar Terry Trainor
13th Apr 2013 (#)

Thank you Stella, we went down to Devon on a coach and when there was a hill we all had to get out and walk up the hill to meet the coach at the top. Thanks Stella.

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author avatar Songbird B
19th Apr 2013 (#)

Loved this, and during the '80's I actually worked in a service attended petrol station as a young woman..This brought back so many memories for me Terry..Fantastic Star page! \0/x

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