Lawrence The Chauffeur has retired

Driving-Miss-Daisy-1989 (1)

Little gestures sometimes make a big difference.

The guys in the Uptown Motors body shop in Muscatine have earned some public praise. The small favor they did for me Monday will make a big improvement whenever I have passengers in my new old car in the future.

It’s a pain in the neck, you see, when the front passenger-side door won’t open on a 2002 Pontiac Grand Prix. This, I learned, Sunday afternoon when Janet, Jacob and I made a trip to the YMCA. Fiona, my beloved Grand Prix, was parked in her spot between the house and garage and I offered to drive.

All was good until Janet, who couldn’t open the passenger-side front door, climbed into the backseat with Jacob. This left me alone in the front seat for the one-mile trip as the two of them made Driving Miss Daisy jokes and brainstormed possible names for their new chauffeur. I think they finally settled on “Lawrence.”

This was something up with which I would not put — if you want to state the case in a grammatically correct, if somewhat awkward, way. Once we got home, I took a look at the car. It was obvious that the lower side panel — where it joins with the front edge of the door — had been bent inward a bit. Far enough that it would catch whenever someone tried to open the door. It wouldn’t open wide enough even for someone as skinny as Jacob to get in and sit on the front seat.

My guess is that someone door dinged Fiona hard enough last week to damage the car while it was parked in a ramp at the University of Iowa in Iowa City. I noticed the problem the first time someone tried to open the door, which would have been after school on Thursday, when I picked up Jacob.

Of course, I didn’t do anything to fix it. Until Monday after work. That’s when I stopped in at the Uptown body shop. I was just hoping to make an appointment to have someone fix the door later in the week.

But a young guy, who, if I remember correctly, identified himself as Jason, looked at the car and grabbed what looked like an extra wide and stiff putty knife, which he wrapped in a shop rag and used to pop out the section of the car’s side panel that was bent in a bit too far. In two or three minutes, he fixed the door. And he didn’t charge me anything.

Stories like this are why I like living in Muscatine.

And Fiona is as good as new — or as close to it as a 13-year-old car can get.

The jury is still out on Lawrence the Chauffeur’s future.



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