|Johnny Tat, Owner Of Johnny's Auto Repair|
|Karen, a friend indeed|
On Wednesday Karen had to work so I walked the 1.8 miles both to Johnny's and then back to the BART station. At least I'm getting my exercise.
Johnny's repair shop is best described as organized chaos. Johnny and his employees speak Vietnamese to one another. Johnny's English is heavily accented and he yells a lot. At one point Johnny explained that he wanted to help me out because, as Johnny put it "Basicawly, you skwooed." He also added that since I was from Idaho and stuck in the middle of Oakland "You nowhere". I have tried to accurately portray Johnny's tone and accent, not to be demeaning but because I believe Johnny accurately and eloquently described my situation.
I respect Johnny and in my time at his shop I could see that he provides a very valuable and needed service to his customers and the community. With their cars Johnny is a very competent mechanic. In his own way he is also compassionate and professional. With my 1959 Ranchero, however, Johnny was out of his element. His knowledge of the car and its modifications was no greater than mine. In addition, Johnny was very busy and didn't want to listen to my ideas.
Johnny came to America in 1978 after Vietnam fell to the Communist. He explained to me that he left Vietnam because of the lack of freedom and because of the discrimination he suffered because he was of Chinese descent (Cantonese). Johnny told me how he has basically had four lives. The first one was in South Vietnam before it fell to the communist. The Second Life was when he left Vietnam through the North and into China. He then escaped China by boat to Hong Kong. The boat was terribly overloaded and everybody on board had to bail to keep it afloat. Finally he arrived in America where he went to college for a year to become a mechanic. He saved his money and bought the repair shop he now operates.
Johnny explained that he would be unable to work on my car on Wednesday. At that point, I volunteered to do the work. I began working on the car and although we made progress we were unable to get the car to run on Wednesday or Thursday in a fashion that would leave me confident to drive it on the highway. In a couple of words, "I was screwed."
We came back with renewed efforts on Thursday. On Thursday Johnny posited the theory that since my car had an aftermarket distributor that was based upon a General Motors design that maybe the firing order was a General Motors firing order rather than a Ford firing order. It was at this stage that I lost all confidence that the Ranchero would be returned to me properly fixed and in a timely fashion.
|Johnny settling the bill with a customer|
I walked back to the BART station on Thursday completely exhausted, discouraged and quite literally bloodied and bruised. It was time for a new plan.
The Ranchero, feeling a bit embarrassed as it
is pulled up on the tow truck
Thursday night and Friday morning Linda and I worked to arrange to have the car transported from Oakland to San Ramon, California. Jim's shop is in an old Nike Missle base in the hills behind San Ramon. I would leave the car with Jim until the middle of July when I would be able to return to California.
|Good Bye Johnny|
We have not given up yet. On Monday Linda and I will leave Donner Lake and drive to Ely Nevada. We hope to continue to be a "Ford on the Lincoln", we just won't be the same Ford as we started out. We will have to do some long stretches, especially in the early days and we will continue to reevaluate the trip and in Iowa we will make a decision as to whether to return to Idaho or to continue to New York City. In any event I am still determined to drive all the way across to America. It just might take a bit longer.