My Car Repair With Andre

I drive a 2001 Nissan Frontier truck. It is blue with a white topper on the back. It has large dents on each side that were not caused by me and a big yellow paint smudge on the bumper that was. I bought it from a college friend for my move to LA (Thanks Kyle!) because it had crazy low mileage and I needed something. I enjoy my truck because it’s fun when people discover that it tis I, blonde girl with a heart of gold, who drives the thing. Kyle told me the truck’s name was Ace, so respectfully I continued to call it that instead of renaming it like an asshole. I’ve taken Ace cross country, camping, to the drive in, to the beach, and have sat for approximately 1.5 bizzilion hours in LA traffic listening to Britney Spears and Less Than Jake. I like my truck. Ace is the best.

That said, Ace does have its quirks. It’s expected when you buy a truck that’s pretty old and then proceed to drive it daily in extreme heat. The worst moment of my truck life was when I had an audition of a lifetime and as I was driving to my audition the truck completely overheated and broke down. I scrambled to get it back to my apartment before finding somebody, anybody to take me to my audition. (This was in 2013, before I knew about uber.) My buddy Will Wernick saved the day, I peed my pants, but I made it to the audition in the nick of time. It all worked out, but afterward I still had the problem of fixing my truck.

I had only lived in LA for a year at that point, so I didn’t really have a mechanic. Luckily, I was working part time for a wonderful family, and my boss Nurit Gazit (yes, it rhymes and yes, she’s amazing) insisted that I take my truck to her guy, a man in Valley Village named Andre.

It wasn’t long after that time that I landed my first television job and I had to quit the Gazit family. I was sad to leave such a sweet gig, but alas, it was the name of pursuing my real dream. I’ve kept in touch with Nurit (she recently emailed me sending her condolences over Ben Affleck’s divorce. It was greatly appreciated, I needed the support), but every time I visit Andre, I think of the Gazits and all their greatness.

But I’m not writing about the Gazit family. I am writing about the best mechanic in the world.

His name is Andre of Andre’s Autos. And he is who I would like to write about today.

Simply put, Andre is the best.

I have visited him many, many times over the last couple of years because of my oh-so-quirky, let’s keep ‘em guessing, truck. I know what you’re thinking. “Ali, isn’t the mark of a good mechanic someone who you don’t visit often because they did the job right the first time?” And to that I say:

  1. Of course! I’m not a FREAKING IDIOT, YOU HIGH AND MIGHTY, CAR KNOW-IT-ALL JERK. I’m not BEING SWINDLED. I AM NOT NAÏVE TO THE WORLD OF VEHICLE MAINTENANCE. I’m sorry, but I can’t tell you how many times people that I barely know take one look at me and my truck and are overcome with this bizarre urge to “explain” (or, more fittingly, “man-splain”) to me how a truck works, AS IF I DON’T ALREADY OWN AND DRIVE ONE. I’m guessing you mean well, random person who wants to protect me from the evil world of car mechanics, but for future reference, unless I am asking you for specific advice, just don’t give me any. It’s condescending and rude. Andre doesn’t treat me like that. He treats me as the intelligent, albeit relatively poor, comic that I am.
  2. The REAL reason my truck has to take the trip to Andre’s so frequently is because a) It’s old as hell and b) I’m broke as fuck.

Even though I am enjoying my journey into the vast world of film and television, the truth of the matter is, I currently never have the financial means to truly fix whatever is wrong with my poor Ace. When I start selling scripts, perhaps I’ll be able to change my tune, but until then when I bring my truck is, I’m usually going to look for a way to band-aid the problem.

And Andre is the best band-aider in all the land.

Let me tell you about Andre. I don’t know much about him personally, (like, for one, his last name) but he is a mechanic who inhabits one unit in a string of automotive garage units in Valley Village. It’s just off Laurel Canyon and Burbank Blvd, for those of you who are interested. (Yes, this blog has become one part Yelp review, one part comedic bad language. Deal with it, fuck-tard.)

Nurit told me that Andre was from Iran, so when I hear him speak in a foreign language, I assume it’s Farsi but I will be the first to say I don’t know. His shop is always way more packed than the other units, and the beautiful cars he works on greatly contrast in value and aesthetics compared to the giant eye sore that is my truck.

Andre’s a tall, slender man with a small pair glasses perched on his nose, and eyebrows that always hold an expression of concern. He looks more like a dark-haired Gepetto than the slick rick mechanics you see in the movies. His voice is a gentle tenor, he’s quietly serious and his clothes are always miraculously clean when I see him, making me certain that he showers every time he’s finished a car because he knows customers are on their way.

I am certain there are basic repairs he’s done on my truck that he doesn’t normally do, either because I’m so charming or more likely that he knows I’m desperate.

He knows my cell phone number, because whenever I call he picks up and says, “Hi Alison.”

Andre never seems stressed when I pull up to his jam-packed shop. He’s recently adopted a look of, “Oh boy, now what?” and I try to detensify the moment with a goofy smile and wave. I know he probably wants me to throw the truck out and start over, but instead he band-aids away, always telling me the minimum he can do, and giving me the cheapest of parts to do it.

He’s calm, cool, collected, and I hope to god he’s a Dad, because he be awesome at it.

One time I met his brother, who looks pretty much identical to him, and the only reason I knew that it wasn’t Andre was because he didn’t greet me with a “Hello Alison” when I pulled up.

One time he stayed open late on a Saturday to give me a chance to pick my truck up and while he was waiting he had BBQ with a bunch or Iranian men in his garage. They were all cleaned up (seriously, he is the cleanest, spiffiest mechanic I have ever met), blasting Iranian music and drinking beer. When I picked up Ace, he insisted I take home a plate of chicken.

One time I failed a smog test (!) and found out I needed to replace my catalytic converter. Andre did it in a one day turn around and at the lowest price possible (he got a used part instead of a part from the Nissan dealer as requested by me, the blonde beggar). I brought it back to the smog guy, who then became one of my man-splaining friends and insisted that “whoever I saw” did not repair the converter, and I “totally should’ve” had the smog guy replace it. He made me lay on the ground and showed me with a flashlight that the converted looked dirty and was definitely not new. I told Mr. Smog that my mechanic got it cheap, and Smog rolled his eyes and said, “Well then he got the part from a junk yard.” I smiled. “Yes. He most certainly did. He got the part from a junk yard for me.” And guess what? I passed the smog and the converter works great, so take that, mother-fuckah! I later brought Andre a cupcake. It made him smile.

I’ve had various parts break and replaced on me, but the only times I’ve had a repeat fix from Andre was for my battery. And it was my fault. And he charged me zilch.

Andre doesn’t judge me for being poor. He treats me like I’m the Cadillac owner parked next to my blue, leaky beast.

Plus, he finds me funny.

I think the main reason Andre beams so positively in my mind is because it is so refreshing to meet someone who works hard, stays kind, and goes the extra mile for no other reason than it’s the right thing to do. I know I’m not the big money-making business for Andre, (there are countless times I come in simply because I’m worried and he takes a look and doesn’t charge me a dime), but still I’m worth it for him to stay late or open early for, to text with when I have questions, to calmly explain all my options, and to chuckle when I say, “Whatever is cheapest, Andre. That’s always my answer.”

Andre will never let me go on the road if my truck is unsafe. Conversely, he will never try to upsell me. I don’t for a second believe her charges me correctly for his actual labor when he’s already quoted me a price. And he will always happily point out after an oil change that there’s a strut hanging off the back of my truck, on its last hinge and: “That means it’s broken, Alison.”

I weirdly can’t wait for the day that I come in and ask Andre for the more expensive repair option. Or, even better, I can’t wait for the day when I pull in with a brand new green colored, environmentally conscious, gets great mileage, possibly a convertible, seriously I don’t have a fantasy car in my brain but trust me it will be sick as hell, and Andre will smile with his worried eyebrows and say, “Hi Alison.”

I think the world needs more people like Andre.

Until then, if you ever need your car repaired, I got a guy.

– One L

“Baby you can drive my car.” – That one Liverpool Band.


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