Getting My Car Repaired

The body shop in North Haven reminded me of an airline ticket counter at the airport. There were young non-mechanic looking people sitting behind Dell LCD screens

My car has been dropped off to have the banged door repaired. It’s between the insurance company and body shop now. My 10 year old Mercedes SLK&#185 has been temporarily replaced by a rental Kia SUV&#178.

I decided to accept the insurance company’s offer to take care of all the details. I understand I might not be getting genuine Mercedes parts. I suspect there won’t be any parts replaced anyway. This seems like one of the few remaining injuries that can be pulled or banged out.

The body shop in North Haven reminded me of an airline ticket counter at the airport. There were young non-mechanic looking people sitting behind Dell LCD screens. A few insurance companies have offices on premises. Others are there on a regular basis. It was too business like–too neat– to be an auto repair place!

I ran into the owner. He told me it’s changed a lot since he bought the place 12 years ago. I’m sure! He has adapted his business to take advantage of technology and the changing face of insurance. It’s twice the size it was when he bought it.

He said there was a time when they spent 50 hours a week moving cars. The whole process would come to a halt as things were juggled into the right place. Time really is money. You don’t want a trained mechanic acting as a valet parking attendant.

The phone just rang. It was Robert from the insurance company. It will take until Friday for my car to be finished. They’ll have to paint the entire driver’s side. The insurance company will pay the body shop over $1,200

I can wait.

&#185 – If you hold onto a Mercedes for 10 years, it really doesn’t cost more than a ‘regular’ car you keep for half the time–or so I’ve convinced myself.

&#178 – I turned down the rental company’s insurance offering. At the bottom of the sheet it is enumerated on an annual basis. Their insurance works out to approximately $15,000 a year. Wow!

Into New York For Friday Night

I picked up the phone and the first words were, “When’s this rain gonna stop?” Actually, there was another word between this and rain, but you get the point.

A friend of mine, from California, was in New York City. It was a quick trip to visit his dad and have a business meeting. I said I’d see him after dinner.

I left Connecticut around 8:30 and headed toward the Turnpike. Though it had been raining earlier, skies had become partly cloudy. The 100 mile trip to the city was a breeze.

I drove down the FDR Drive with the East River and Roosevelt Island on my left. The buildings of Manhattan were blocked on my right, but it didn’t matter – it’s a beautiful ride on an awful road.

I called my mom on the cellphone. More than anyone, I share my love of Manhattan with her. Given her druthers, that’s where she’d be living. Me too.

My friend’s dad’s apartment is right off the FDR. I got off the exit and turned down into the basement garage, less than 100 feet away.

This is a very expensive building on one of New York’s best known streets. In fact, this neighborhood is best known by the street’s name.

As I waited, the parking attendant pulled a huge Bentley from its space. A diminutive woman and her equally small husband walked toward the car. She looked familiar.

I stared at her and she looked back. Then it hit me – Judge Judy.

I don’t have something pithy to say to everyone I meet, but this was Judge Judy. I told her I followed her on-the-air every day and then explained how I was on the news in Connecticut.

My camera was hanging on my neck, so I asked for a photo. She was very gracious. I suppose she isn’t often asked for a photo in the garage of her apartment building!

I walked out of the garage and around the block to the building’s main entrance. Residents have a key card. I was just visiting.

A doorman stood guard in front of a bank of security monitors. After a quick call to clear me, I was in.

Years ago this was a ‘full service’ building. It is probably the last place I rode an elevator that had an elevator operator (even though it was a self service elevator). Those days are gone. Even the well to do have to cut back a little.

My friend and I decided to go for coffee. That’s one of the nice things about Manhattan. You want coffee – it’s a short walk away.

In fact everything in Manhattan is close by and it’s very walkable. I’ve joked in the past, New York is the only city in America with 24 hour room service.

It’s true! You can easily get Chinese food delivered at 3:00 AM.

The coffee, in a small Italian place under the shadow of the 59th Street Bridge, was fine. The company was better.

Since I’m talking about the building, I’ll leave his name out to preserve a little privacy. This is someone I’ve known for nearly 40 years. We have been through good and bad times together.

We’re both happy with life right now – in a good place. Professionally, he’s doing very well, and I couldn’t be more pleased.

We walked back up First Avenue, past a construction site with New York City steam blasting from a subturranean vent. Though already midnight, the city was teaming with activity.

My assessment of New York is probably overly romanticized. My friend, staying in a Manhattan apartment, said he hated it – would be glad to never leave his California home. I shrugged.

I got back to Connecticut a few minutes before 2:00 AM. I suppose that’s a lot of trip to pack into one short evening. I’m glad I did.