Warren Argo, friend and co-worker at Centrum, the kind of person who always made you feel good about yourself and about life, including automotive adventures. . .

I once had a friend named Warren Argo. Affectionately known as Wargo, Warren passed away some years ago, way too young, like some people sadly do. He was a talented, super-intelligent guy, one of those people who sparkled all the time. His outlook on life was superb. Thinking about him now, during the pandemic and all the frustrating but necessary restrictions this had brought to our daily existence, makes me appreciate his positive approach to just about everything. Example: a car problem was referred to by him as an automotive adventure.


Warren, I think, was sincere in this description of what would make many of us gnash our teeth in extreme annoyance. His curiosity about how the adventure would be resolved (he could usually do this on his own) seemed joyful and boundless. We should all be more like Warren.


This week I was chafing because I’d made an appointment for my car to be looked over in anticipation of a trip west as soon as travel restrictions are lifted. My better self, the Warren part of my nature, kicked in and said Hey, this is not an inconvenience, this is an automotive adventure!


Warren prevailed. Shortly after 8 AM I joyfully drove the Subaru to Job’s Auto, near downtown Walla Walla. It’s not that I thought anything was wrong with the car, it’s just that I don’t think of all those topping-off-the-fluids sorts of things that Bruce used to do. An abundance of caution. No problem.


Lily (my inner fourteen-year-old) and 9 (ditto, age 9) didn’t remark on any of this, since neither of them is old enough to drive. But they weren’t 100% with me on my ground transportation plan for getting home and going back to the mechanic’s when the car was ready.


I don’t mind public transit, but, gheez, getting into a tin can with a bunch of strangers during a pandemic?


Do we have to wear a mask?


Yes, 9, we have to wear a mask.


It was really a pretty tame deal. The bus transfer station is about a mile from the mechanic’s, an easy walk, the fare is free right now. There were only two passengers on the homeward-bound bus, both of whom got off at the transfer station. Signs on the bus requested passengers wear masks (got it!). Every other bench seat was roped off for social distancing. The bus line nearest my house runs once an hour; luckily, we made the connection with a mere five-minute wait. The ride home was about 10 minutes.


Quick, use the hand sanitizer!


Yes, Lily. Did it the second my feet hit the ground.


Do we have to walk some more?


Don’t whine, 9, it’s just a few blocks.


The garage called shortly before 11 AM, saying the car looked good and it was ready for pickup. The bus’s hourly pass near my house happens at one minute past the hour on the regular schedule; another five minutes and I could have made it.


I started off anyway, walking the bus route, figuring I’d catch it somewhere in the three-plus return miles of the loop, but. . .


Slow down, you guys, my legs aren’t as long as yours!


When I passed the bus stop nearest the auto mechanic’s I was pleased to note we’d beaten the bus’s ETA by twenty minutes.


The Subaru was in a shaded garage bay. Two guys in white jumpsuits were mid-conversation as I approached. One eventually turned to me and asked what he could help me with. I pulled out my credit card and pointed to the Subaru.


“I’m here for that rascal.”


“Looks great,” said the talking guy. I held out my credit card. “No charge.”




“Seriously? I mean, you didn’t even have to change the oil or anything?”


“Nope. You should bring it in for me to look at when it hits 100,000 miles.”


“Okay. Thanks.”


And that was that. The automotive adventure concluded without a dime exchanged. Warren Argo would have been beaming. And you know what? The next time I’m stewing about something I have to do, I’m going to turn it around and adopt Warren’s “adventure” approach. Because really, even now with all the precautions and isolation, that’s what life is.


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