John Steinbeck once wrote, “… there are men who can look, listen, tap, make an adjustment, and a machine works. Indeed, there are men near whom a car runs better.” Delfino Idrogo is one of those men. He and I have been hanging out this past week while my ladies were off on a cruise.
We had this mission, you see. It was an old (1995) Fix Or Repair Daily (FORD) pickup truck, a three-quarter ton monster in which one could watch the gas needle move as it chugged along. It possesses an almost spirit-like emotional bearing, though, since it was the last vehicle owned by my late father-in-law, Julius Cole. That makes it special in our family.
After a few rough episodes, it gave up the ghost on the ladies along a stretch of Old Highway 70 in the Arkansas Delta and had to be towed back to the farm. It sat there for weeks before a young man determined that the distributor had gone bad. Before that could be addressed, a tree fell on it during a storm.
I was ready to abandon it. The ladies would not hear of it. Then came Delfino to the rescue.
He’s an interesting fellow. In a neighborhood in which honest labor is not always considered a fitting pastime for a grown man, he is in constant motion. He keeps his own place spotless and isn’t above helping someone else with theirs. So it came to pass that he took on the old Ford as a “Mission From God.” I helped.
There’s no use boring you with the details—the false starts, the shaky beginnings, the trips to the parts store, and help from a professional mechanic. When the last vacuum hose was replaced, and the final adjustments made, the old truck almost tried to purr, it was so happy. Then Delfino wanted to take it home for an evening to make some adjustments to a door.
When he brought it back next day, it was washed, waxed, and buffed. If you stood real still, you could almost see Julius standing by it and smiling. He would have liked Delfino a lot.
They were alike, those two. Hard work is the best pastime and a lifetime of drudgery a badge of honor. Delfino tells about when they all would “follow the harvest” when he was growing up in Laredo, Texas. They would travel in a large truck with an enclosed bed, each family claiming a corner as a place to live as they moved from crop to crop.
It’s better now. He, his wife Mitzi, and daughters Valerie and Nicole share a pleasant home on a large parcel of land around the corner from the farm. Knowing them is a constant blessing.
And the old truck? It stands waiting for the ladies to get back. Maybe we’ll all take a spin. I can see the smiles already. Surely the world will be “spinning in greased grooves.” We’ll see.
“Through our own recovered innocence we discern the innocence of our neighbors.”. - Henry David Thoreau