Salt of the Earth

This post is related to Hardware for Humanity and The Yarn Barn in flamboyant opposition to money-as-the-yardstick-for-value. Now I focus on a Smash Repair Mechanics Workshop where three men work happily together in a business that does not advertise . . . . they rely on word of mouth.  These men are the salt of the earth.

When I photographed this colourful poster they made sure I realised it depicted the heroes of the Greek revolt against the Ottoman Empire begun around 1821.
When I photographed this colourful poster they made sure I realised it depicted the heroes of the Greek revolt against the Ottoman Empire begun around 1821.

Many of the authentic Australians in my world here are originally from Greece.  It was to one such mechanic friend that I went for consolation and advice recently when after leaving my handbrake off in distress on my way to the dentist, my magnificent blue-bubble car rolled silently across the road skilfully avoiding traffic behind me and crashed into a stationery car on the other side, badly buckling it’s own right front mudguard.  My Master Mechanic Theo – also from Greece, immediately recommended that I take the precious wreck to a tiny Smash Repair place hidden near to Sydney Road.   Gifted to me several years ago, my blue-bubble sported many dents that I’d never been financially robust enough to have repaired, but today the mudguard was a shocker that needed attention.  Luckily, whereas my toy-car was badly buckled, the other man’s car was only slightly scratched.

On Theo’s advice I drove disgracefully down to the Smash Shop.  It was an unexpected garden of delights.

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I approached an old man intently examining the battered hood and ruefully explained the need of my right-front-mudguard.  The man stared piercingly at me for some moments before pointing at my heart and saying You’re a good woman!  During the suspense I’d reached a similar conclusion about him from his kind, worn face and bright eyes.  Just look at their Office:

Can you see the pictures of God everywhere?
Can you see the pictures of God everywhere?
The father from the Charalambous family is a minister in the Greek Orthodox Church, I guess they know each other.  The man who owns this Smash Shop is Eleos.
The father from the Charalambous family is a minister in the Greek Orthodox Church,  The name of the man who owns this Smash Repair Shop is Elios.  I guess they know each other.

Eleos took a look at the damage and told me it would take two days, I wondered how much this would cost and without asking was told $350.00. I gulped.  This was actually doable.  I was astonished.  So I asked when would they have time to do it and he said I could leave the car any day that suited me.

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All around me was very dusty nevertheless fascinatingly like a sewing-room: order within chaos again – I must have an eye for it.  I asked whether I could bring my camera back with me and take some photos before realising that Eleos only knows little English, only Greek.   Driving away I remembered our neighbour who came from Sicily when she was a teenager, lived in the house next door to ours until she was ninety-nine but didn’t ever learn any English.  Her children and grandchildren did, but evidently she didn’t ever need it.  Anyway I took the shamefully battered little BlueBottle home, buying CatFood on the way, so I could return to the SmashShop tomorrow.  Two days without a car would be dignified by tram up and down Sydney Road.  (Yes, Sydney Road runs all the way from Melbourne to Sydney.)

The shop has almost no street presence - It doesn't need it.  It is such a small front face you can easily miss it with clear directions.  But it has depth!
The shop belonging to Elios has almost no street presence – It doesn’t need it. It is such a small front face you can easily miss it with clear directions. But it has depth!  And depth makes all the difference.

When I returned with money in cash for Eleos – since he doesn’t have one of those money-machines, I was stunned to see my humble Bottle.   It was dint-less all-over, can you imagine?  All those old dints had vanished.  I suspect it had even been polished. It took some time for this to sink in: they didn’t need to do all that work especially for so little.  These men are something else here in this world where money has the only voice.  This world where I grew up before it became so selfish.  This world I am so ashamed of when I return from India.

The small scratch on the victim’s car cost one thousand five hundred dollars here in Shark-Infested-Soup, here in the green grass on the other side of the fence.  When I told Theo about this he said, yes: all the others are sharks.  Big mouths. Heaps of teeth.  Eleos, Theo said, is a Church Man.  Makes all the difference.

It does, doesn’t it?

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