More Than a Business

Photo by Stephen Elliot in association with

“No problem,” I say as I take the keys.

I turn on the car and listen intently. Clank clunk clank clunk.

Opening the hood of the car, I examine the engine. I wipe the back of my hand against my forehead, wet from the heat of the afternoon sun.

I love this.

The challenge of diagnosing a problem. The smell of diesel. The clang of metal tools. The satisfying purr of a once-rattling engine. This is my domain.

Every day, different cars are brought in. Each one comes with its own problem to be solved. I grab a wrench and I’m grateful for how my mind and my hands work seamlessly together. This is more than a business for me.

I’m doing what I’ve
been created to do.

The shadows lengthen in my workshop as the day comes to a close. I wash my hands in the outdoor sink, scrubbing off the layers of grease and oil—the evidence of a hard day’s work.

There’s a sense of pride
when I hand the keys back to a customer.

I watch as he starts the engine and listens to the rhythmic hum of the car.

We both grin.

Tomorrow will bring more sweat and grease and lifting and inspecting. I’ll replace brakes and repair engines and breathe life back into stuttering cars.

As I close up the shop, I shake my head and smile. I can’t imagine doing anything else.

Mechanic, Johannesburg

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