Wrecking Yard…

Written by mitch. Posted in Uncategorized

I visited my mother earlier this evening. It was the second time in two days, although it was the first and only time in those two visits I really got to have any interaction with her.

Unfortunately, when my wife and I got there yesterday she was asleep. Asleep, as in: out of it, mouth open, heavy breathing, asleep.
It was frustrating to say the least. It takes a while to get there depending upon the traffic and the “prize” is being there with her: being there for her… The secondary prize is having her care-givers and nurses always wondering who will show up and when.
You see, my mother is in a skilled nursing/assisted living facility in the San Fernando Valley. The very best facility of its kind, as far as that goes. But, that doesn’t mean having her there is any easier. The problem is, she has Alzheimer’s and the kind of speech aphasia that generally accompanies it, which means that at this point there is no alternative.
If you’ve been through anything like this… and, too many of you have; you know exactly what I’m talking about. The difficulties associated with dealing with this condition are difficult enough. So is the level of care necessary, especially because my mother cannot communicate on her own behalf. It takes a lot of care and an almost mystical kind of intuition, the kind of second sight that generally comes with constant companionship. The level of care in the current facility is incredibly good. But, it still isn’t the one-on-one care we’re used to.
Consequently, separation brings with it a fairly high level of anxiety. That, coupled with a technician’s sensitivities (always wanting to “fix” things…) make visiting as close to emotional suicide as you can get and still remain functional. I can’t tell you what it feels like to get off the second floor elevator and see the patients stacked in front of the nursing station like the rows of used up and broken cars I’m used to seeing in a wrecking yard.
In a way, I guess this is a fitting metaphor. Everyone there has certainly seen better days. Almost all are pretty well used up. And, it would be safe to say, the majority certainly aren’t ‘running right.’ So, we do the same thing with our elderly that we do with all things no longer useful in our culture: we discard it. We segregate it. We remove it. We eliminate it and limit its ability to distract or depress us.
If that seems harsh I apologize. But, you’ll have to prove to me that I’m wrong. Even though I’d like to believe I’m the exception to the rule, my mother is there because I can’t care for her at home. I have neither the training, nor the specialized equipment. I don’t have easy access to the medical technology necessary to ensure her comfort or health either. And, I don’t have the resources to pay for any of that kind of care around the clock. Consequently, I’m trapped.
The fact that I was business partners and best friends with my mother and father for more years than I’ve been married and I’ve been married for forty years doesn’t help. It just sharpens the edge on the responsibility I feel so deeply every day. So, this is the best of all possible solutions – barring, of course, a complete and totally impossible recovery – in the worst of all possible scenarios…
What does it mean? Nothing, really… It doesn’t change a thing. I’m still going to visit and she will still be waiting… kind of like that proud old sedan I saw at the ‘yard’ the other day: a remnant of gentler times and a more elegant era, when people were more important than things, and all things weren’t ‘instant’ and disposable.’

Picture This…

Written by mitch. Posted in Uncategorized

I find myself in the interesting position of having two blogs – count ’em: two! While not being exactly sure what to do with either.

What I find most interesting about all this is the more I write, the more I want or need to write: which is interesting for someone who never kept a “journal” outside the columns I’ve written which chronicle the past twenty-five years of both my personal and professional lives.

Now, I find myself agonizing over where to place what I’ve written – whether it ‘belongs’ on the SchneidersAuto.Net site, or here on the CaptainCarFix.blogspot.com site. I know… Ridiculous! Especially, when no one is following either! But, “agonize” I will, nevertheless.

I will probably consolidate both into one and then proceed from there… In the meantime, here is something I’ve just posted on the Schneider’s site along with some interesting images of a time gone by. They have a lot to do with me, my Dad, our shop and another era… What they really have to do with are roots: roots that go deep and way back: back to the early 50’s and earlier… to four cent a gallon gasoline in a Jewish/Italian neighborhood in Bensonhurst.


I don’t fancy myself one of those individuals who likes to drown themselves in things nostalgic. It seems like there are far too many things to occupy one’s self with in the present to want to dwell in the past.

However, having said that, there are times when it does seem appropriate to take a few minutes to look back, if for no other reason than to see how far you’ve come. I’m not sure you can, or even should schedule moments like these; it seems to me they would certainly lose a little something if you did. But, every once in awhile something happens that triggers whatever portion of the brain given over to warehousing important memories like these and these multi-dimensional images explode like the cloth-covered, spring loaded, snakes in a circus act.

That’s what happened to me late last week while I was going through one of the cabinets at the shop trying to ‘make room,’ a very weak euphemism for cleaning things up and throwing things out, and came across a folder filled with a number of black & white photos of our Grand Opening, thirty years ago: February 1, 1980.

The rush of memories was overwhelming. So was the sense of loss brought on by the number of people who are no longer with us, not the least of whom is my father. But, as easy as it would have been for that sense of loss to get me down, it didn’t…

Why? Because, there is a lot of history packed into those thirty years: social, cultural, political and personal history. There are values deeply embedded in our company that reflect who my father was and what was important to him: the way he lived his life both personally and professionally.

I’d like to share some of these with you over the next few weeks and months as I reflect on where we are and where we are going. I think they are important not only from their ‘historical perspective,’ with regard to our company… because they tell the story of how got here. I think they are important culturally, so we don’t lose our way as we close the book on the first decade of the 21st Century.