My dad is a mechanic.
I don’t talk about family much, mostly because mine is a bit of a mess, but in brainstorming posts for Toyota Women’s Influencer Network, my mind immediately went to the Before Times, when I was a wee little bear and spent days with my dad at work. When I think of anything and everything car related, I think of my dad.
I don’t know why I’d go to work with him. Probably because it was a Saturday he was working and because it was his visitation weekend and probably because I loved it. I loved peeking into the tool box, pulling out drawers and peeking at wrenches and all manner of shiny, silvery tools. I loved hanging out in the waiting room, catching up on some Saturday morning cartoons and flipping through magazines, declaring to anyone who asked that I was going to be a comedian when I grew up and then telling ridiculous jokes that maybe only 6-year-olds could find funny.
And the smell. That shop smell, the smell of oil and gas and grease and car parts. There’s nothing like it. It smells like home to me, safe, in a way. Familiar.
My memory is often jogged by scent, just like it’s jogged by a favorite old song, or the sound of ocean waves, and each and every time I walk in some shop, which isn’t often because I’ve managed to outsource car maintenance to my husband, but still – each and every time I visit a shop, I think of my dad. I think of running around the shop, of sitting on a spinning stool and watching my dad work, of taking it all in, of feeling like I was getting a special treat, seeing the inner workings of a maintenance shop.
My dad’s hands were always dirty. Always. Always grease under the nails, always oil caught in the creases where his fingers met his palms. And maybe dirty isn’t the right word – he washed his hands – scrubbed them, in fact – but they were stained. Stained from the grease and the oil.
When I think back to my childhood, and the times I spent with my dad, his grease-stained hands are one of my clearest memories.
I like my husband for a lot of reasons. He gives me back rubs. He gets me candy and makes me brownies. He refills my water-glass when I pout about it being empty. He takes the dogs for walks and occasionally mows the lawn. He’s also taken over the car maintenance for both our cars, which I like, but which I also miss. It’s not that I miss sitting in a waiting room waiting for an oil change, but that I miss the chance to be in a garage, to take a few minutes to breathe it all in and remember how much fun I used to have at the shop with my dad. I don’t miss enough to trade responsibilities, of course, but I do miss the change to indulge in a bit of nostalgia.
—Disclosure: I was selected for participation in the TWIN community through a program with Clever Girls Collective. I did not receive any compensation for writing this post, or payment in exchange for participating. The opinions expressed herein are mine, and do not reflect the views of Toyota.