THE APOLLO 2
Updated: Nov 23, 2018
Who are these men I have been sharing space with for the last week? I have yet to actually run into them. They keep to themselves flowing inconspicuously in and out of the garage, the alley or from under cars, taking discreet lunch breaks in their backyard park.
Yesterday, as I wandered around to set up electricity, I met Tran. It turns out he is co-owner of the garage, Tony’s business partner. He is a very thin, upright and gentle Chinese man in a blue one-piece jumpsuit. Like Tony he is in his 70s and equally as sincere, diplomatic and welcoming. I tell him a bit about what I up to and thank him for having me here. He seems completely at ease that Tony has allowed me to work amongst them. In a fatherly kind manner he reminds me to store my stuff carefully away as everything left out will disappear, and that I should be wearing security glasses. We discuss some of the challenges and pleasure of working in this ambiguous zone between an alley and a city park.
I decide to seek out the other guys to introduce myself with the pretense of asking them to keep the discarded bumpers for me. Up to now they have left me to my own devices as I discover the lay of the land; they seem unconcerned about this stranger roaming around the premises. They go about their business in the quietly orchestrated way people do when they have worked together for so long.
Today I discover that Mundi is from Haiti and he is the eldest employee, having been here since the beginning. His dignified tall mien and the way he glances above his round metal framed glasses reminds me more of a professor than a mechanic. In the same workers uniform as Tran, he nods his head to say ‘hi’ with an air of teacherly approval, reassuring me all is good. He is not a big talker but wants me to know how this manual work is very difficult and tiresome. I have observed the dozens of cars that come and go in a week, and the very long hours and weekends these men labour to repair the aftermath of their client’s accidents.
Then there is Xing the youngest of the group, who has been working here for 15 years. We don’t talk much but he gives me the thumbs up as he smiles back acknowledging the sharing of the space.
I am constantly in awe of how this international team is so easy going, and how smoothly they work in each other’s company. And how they have taken me in with complete trust without knowing anything about me.
On this extraordinarily hot afternoon Tran hands out cold soft drinks and includes me in the round. Now I feel like I am part of the Apollo!