My recipe for a happy life includes: giving no credence to Breaking News in the moment; being curious of all things natural, technical, and human; and finding humor, rather than fear, in the many things I do not understand. Therefore, I find a spark of joy, several times a week, riding my bicycle through the Auto Zone parking lot.
I don’t need to ride my bike through the Auto Zone parking lot to get to the gym. I could stay on the bike path or ride the street, But cutting through the parking lot is much more fun. A quick trip to a foreign land for a guy with limited mechanical ability who doesn’t even own a car.
The Auto Zone parking lot is so much more than a place to leave your car while you purchase windshield wipers and motor oil. It’s the place to install your new windshield wipers and replace your motor oil, preferably with other Auto Zone groupies giving advice, perhaps even lending a hand. The guys who work at Auto Zone—they are all guys—spend a lot of time in the parking lot; popping hoods, checking belts, fiddling filters. I have no idea if this hands-on assistance is included in the purchase price of Auto Zone’s wares (a cyclist has no reason to ever go inside) but I am inclined to think the place offers good value: parts plus replacement.
There are also the guys—they are always guys—who simply hang around the lot because their car is cool. Cool can mean souped to the max, though it can also mean a vintage relic with such potential to trigger restoration fantasy.
Men loitering in the Auto Zone parking lot pay no heed to a guy on a bicycle; I invisible here. Which is fine, because it enables me to observe them directly. To try to fathom how representatives of the same species, of the same country and state, of the same race and gender, can be so different.
I enjoy the action of the Auto Zone parking lot immensely. Still, I thank god I’m not one of these guys with a lumbering machine to tend. I am confident that they thank their own god not to be me. Perhaps I offer them some amusement. Hopefully, as much as they provide me.