“I am worried about how people are doing."
“When Corona came around, we were worried that we would just be shut down because we were a nonessential business. I don’t know how you say a car mechanic shop is a nonessential business. If people can’t drive their cars because they need to be worked on, well, that leaves a lot of folks out there in the cold. After 47 years of having this shop, I have a lot of customers that depend on me. They don't know where to go get anything done and they’re 70s and 80s and, you know, they rely on me to keep their cars going. They need vehicles to be able to get to the doctors and the druggist and you know all the things that they have to go to.
I started looking at my customer database. And I do work for the state police, I did work for the city police, county, wardens, federal prison hospital ambulance workers. All first responders. Somebody's got to keep the first responders going. So I kind of had my paperwork done, just in case I needed to justify being open. And, fortunately, that didn’t need to happen.
We are gradually seeing a lot of things change on account of Corona. Everything is going up in pricing. Not us, our labor hasn't gone up, but all of our parts that we buy now. A lot of them have doubled in the last seven eight months. That has to be passed on to the consumer. And our profits are not in percentages. And prices of other things are going up to, like my groceries, the bills I pay. So, you know my labor is going to have to go up here to compensate for it. I don't think it's really hit yet.
We're trying to keep a little bit of social distancing going on and we don't get to visit with our customers like we used to. Part of it on account of them and part of it on us. I'd say I've got a lot of older customers and they're scared to come in. And people aren’t driving as much. They got nowhere to go. You can't go to the movies, you can't go to the show.
All the gatherings we used to do are all done, even our churches. And that's a big issue with me. Our churches. It’s a bit like they're just trying to do away with them if you can't go and have a church service. Lord said we need to gather and worship, not be separated. It's hard to follow his guidelines and follow the government's guidelines. And we have a higher standard that we have to answer to sometimes when you're going to break the law to go to church. We're breaking his law by not going to church. It's kind of one of those things, but I think we're all going to survive and keep the faith going.
I am worried about how people are doing. I put breathalyzers in cars when the state says a person has to have one. Usually it’s about 100 breathalyzers a year. Here it is only October and it’s been 178 since COVID started in March. So, you know, there's a lot more people out here drinking. That is going to end up being habits for some of them, and they're stuck at home. What do you do, sit around the house and drink. That takes its toll. This COVID stuff is going to be years down the road, it’s going to affect work life, social life.
For me, one of the big effects of COVID was the cancellation of car shows. It’s something my grandkids and I did together. That car there, that's my two-headed dragon. That’s the nickname the grandkids gave it. It’s two Yukons back to back. I had a custom Corvette and enjoyed the car shows, but I can't take but one grandbaby with me. I said, ‘hey, I need to build something that I can take a bunch of grandbabies to the car show with.’ So I built the two-headed dragon. It's like a limo, you can actually go from one end to the other. The kids are loving it. I can fit seven of them in there, plus myself. I finished it in 2019 and took it to a few shows. Nobody has shows in the wintertime, so the spring is the time. A bunch of them asked me to do shows this spring, but they all were canceled because of Corona. Even our local shows here were canceled, and the state fair.
So instead I take the kids on drives and to the school football games. We’ve been mostly to the out of town games, but they're not very far away. I try not to drive the two-headed dragon on the interstate because folks get crazy about passing and taking pictures. It's worse than texting and driving. I don't want to create a lot of havoc with it so I try to stick to the back roads.” - Randy #Arkansas