They Can Fix Anything Except A Broken Heart (Flash Fiction)

Image by Ingo Jakubke from Pixabay

Flash Fiction #161

“Can you fix it? Are you sure? Just tell me honestly. Well, if you can’t fix it, I can always go to Mario’s or The German Car Shop not far from here.” The customer says to Patel, the new owner of Mahaul Auto, which has changed its name to Patel Auto since a year ago when Patel took over. The customer could be an Italian, or Irish, or German, or Jewish . One of my friends says he can always tell the difference, but I can never tell. What I can tell is that he speaks with a perfect American accent that none the other people in the waiting room can.

“They can fix anything except a broken heart.” I want to say that but can’t manage to say it. I am waiting in the auto shop’s office to get my two front tires replaced. I really want to say something to the doubtful customer to help Patel, who’s a very soft spoken person and will never say anything which has the remotest possibility of upsetting a client. However my good girl and silent girl upbringing at that moment interferes and crushes my impulse. When one was brought up to be acquiescent, it is very hard for one to crawl out of that stupid shell to express anything spontaneously.

The customer wears a very formal black suit. I guess he is the owner or the manager of a local funeral parlor or limo rental or some other services, which require ceremonial attires. I am thinking that if he thinks Patel Auto is too immigrant and too small to handle his “big business”, he really shouldn’t be here. Patel assured him in his soft undisturbed voice that he can handle it, but he is too gentle to convince the customer, who casts doubtful glances. Thankfully, after a pause, the customer agrees to leave his car here. “I will be back at four this afternoon.” He announces in a very formal manner before he takes his leave.

I’ve been coming to Mahaul Auto, now Patel Auto, for more than ten years, but I’ve never seen any customer who’s not an Asian immigrant… I mean…until now. This is the first one I’ve ever encountered. I guess the inflation is really getting on everybody’s nerves that people start to hunt for deals in places that they would never have gone before.

Just as I am pondering about this, a young non-Asian man steps into the office and asks for the key to a big jeep outside. He is the second non-Asian who speaks with a perfect American accent that I meet today. I guess he was sent by an insurance company to take pictures of a big jeep for insurance claim purposes. And needless to say, the big jeep, obviously possessing no fuel-efficiency, doesn’t have an Asian owner. Our sense of economy will never allow us to even think of buying a gas guzzler like this.

“Patel, you are really expanding your business. You’re such a good businessman.” I say to Patel, who gives me a very modest smile and quickly retreats to the back door, which connects the office with the repair shop.

Well, probably I was mistaken in thinking that it is the customers’ initiative to come here for a better deal. Probably it is Patel’s enterprising spirit that has led him to advertising on the main stream newspapers, which Mahaul had never done before.

(To Be Continued Here)

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