After I made the long, harrowing journey across the street to Jay’s, I started on replacing the last four spark plugs. I was removing one of the spark plug wires when the tip broke off and stayed attached to the spark plug. I thought, “Well. I think I figured out why Mander has been running rough!”
Napa didn’t have any replacement wires in stock but they were able to order them to arrive the next day. With permission from Jay to stay in his lot for as long as I needed, I placed the order and finished replacing the plugs. Mander has a bit of an oil leak so when everything was said and done….I looked like this.
Before Jay had left for the day, he had given me a plastic cup filled with mechanic’s soap. Luckily, Jay also owns a car wash in the same lot as his shop, so I grabbed my cup of grainy soap, and marched over to the car wash. There was a regular faucet attached to the wall that I was able to turn on and start scrubbing down. I stood in this car wash, essentially taking a shower with my clothes on, in the lot of a diesel repair shop, located in a random small town I never knew existed. I scrubbed the grease off my body as the sun set, turning the sky a beautiful orange hue, and thought to myself, “What a weirdly perfect moment.”
I went to bed feeling safe, accomplished and hopeful that I had finally found the reason why Mander wasn’t running right. The next day I went to go pick up my spark plug wires but they weren’t there. Somehow the shipment got delayed and wouldn’t arrive for another day. So I spent the day hanging around Jay’s while he proudly introduced me to all his regulars. A guy showed up with doughnuts, as I found out he did every week, and Jay let me have his favorite one. Even though I was being treated as one of the guys, Jay saw how hard I was working on my rig and offered to pay for me to get my hair done. I declined but it didn’t stop my heart from exploding into a million pieces.
The next day my wires arrived and I got to work changing them out. After I had finished the job, it was time for the test drive! I put Mander in drive and wound my way through the neighborhood streets. I couldn’t believe my eyes when I rolled pass another Mander! You know your girl had to slam on the brakes and get a picture!
I had never seen another Commander in person before and I was tickled to find this one in seemingly decent condition. Not only that, but MY Mander was running smooth again! I could tell I still needed to adjust the carb but I think it was the old spark plug wires that were causing the main issue. This meant I could finally leave Richfield Utah. When I arrived, I thought I was just going to get my brakes fixed and be there for maybe 2 days. 12 days later I was leaving with new slave cylinders and brake hardware, new axle seals, rear diff fluid change, new carburetor, exhaust manifold gasket replaced (with broken bolt drilled out), and new spark plugs and wires. It had been stressful but there wasn’t a moment that went by without me counting my blessings. I had gotten so much help and had been shown so much kindness. It really couldn’t have been a better situation to have all that work done.
I spent one more night at Jay’s to wrap things up and make sure we got to say a proper goodbye. I got up early the next morning to have some time with Jay before the rest of the staff got in. We shared some laughs, told each other how happy we were to spend time together and had a hug. Then I bawled like a baby. It was hard to say goodbye to this man that, 12 days ago, was a stranger to me. He had taken such good care of me when he had zero reason to. We had a special connection, Jay and I. So much so that I’m happy to report that we still keep in touch to this day. He doesn’t have a cell phone or use the internet but I can always call him at his shop, where he’s forever working hard. And he always takes a break to banter with me, just like how our relationship started.
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Until next time, much love and Mander on!