my auto repair guys

My 11-year-old car is in the shop today. It was diagnosed 3 months ago with an incurable oil-burning engine problem, so at this point I'm simply adding oil to it regularly and trying to get as much life as I can out of it. Luckily, I don't have a very long commute, so it's possible that I can get a year or more out of it before having to buy a new car (and take on more debt). But today it's in the shop because I need new struts. There's other stuff too -- it needs a new axle, but that can wait a while. But the struts are a safety thing -- it had started to feel shaky on the freeway, and my Dour Crusty Mechanic said "I'd worry about you if we didn't do this now."

I don't like having my car in the shop -- who does? -- but I've come to really trust and like the people at this particular shop, who've been caring for my car for over five years now. It's run by a Greek family -- an older man and two brothers. Dour Crusty Mechanic is the head mechanic, and there's a slew of other guys who do various things. Brother #1 is the best at explaining things to the customers and setting the priorities for the day's work. The Brothers mostly manage the shop, I guess , rather than getting under the cars, but they know a heck of a lot.

The Bikram yoga studio I go to is only a few blocks away from the car place, so I try to schedule my oil changes around yoga class -- I'll drop the car off, go to class, and by the time I'm done they've finished the regular service. So one day Brother #1 asked me what I'd been doing, and I said I'd been at yoga. "Oh, the hot yoga place over on X street?" he said. Yes, I said, and I started chatting to him about the benefits of Bikram yoga. He sounded interested --he had a back injury he was rehabbing that was keeping him from running as much as he usually does. And he noted "A lot of our customers talk about the yoga -- men too."

But I was fairly surprised when he actually showed up in yoga class a few days later. He got really hooked on it -- he's about my age, in pretty good shape, and yoga practice helped him strengthen his spine and improve his flexibility.

One Saturday, after a particularly intense class, several of us were sitting on the benches in the front garden area, talking about the mental benefits of yoga practice. Brother #1 said "for me, it's a lot like going to church. There's certain things you have to do, certain rituals, they're talking in a foreign language -- it's really calming for the mind." (He attends a traditional Greek Orthodox church.) And I think he's absolutely right. That's part of what practice is all about.

He'd told me that he was keeping his yoga practice a secret from the guys at the shop, who would give him a hard time if they knew what he was doing. But as a manager, he can skip out for two hours without being noticed. (Although I would think the sweaty glow post-yoga might be a telltale sign.) I hadn't seen him in class for a while -- this morning he explained that he had injured his back again moving a washing machine, and hadn't been going to yoga. He's ready to sign up again this month, though, and sounded enthusiastic about returning to class. I like seeing him there -- it's a kind of weird overlapping of worlds that I enjoy.

Today I noticed that there was a stick of incense burning at the front desk where he was working. I wonder how long his yoga practice is going to remain a secret.