Volume 12 Week 5

Friday, June 24


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Father, son duo come to the rescue of yours truly

Pat and Patrick Kindig are a father and son duo who own and operate a towing/auto parts/salvage yard/garage in La Porte, Indiana and thank God for that because without their help I'd still be on the side of US20 halfway between South Bend, Indiana and Michigan City, Michigan... or worse.

Pat has been in the auto repair/salvage business for over 30 years and Patrick started taking apart engines and putting them back together when he was still in diapers.

I know this because Pat and I spent a good spell talking with each other while I was waiting for Patrick to replace the timing belt on my 1997 Toyota Carolla. Apparently, you're supposed to replace those things every 120,000 km or so.

Mine hadn't been replaced in at least 140,000, or so we surmised for a car with 289,000 kms on it. So why was I on the side of US20 you ask? Valid question. I was on my way to a Florence and the Machine concert in Tinley Park, Illinois when I decided to make a side trip to South Bend, Indiane to visit the campus of the University of Notre Dame, home of the Fighting Irish.

After visiting South Bend, I had to take US20 to get back on I94. Somewhere along the line my engine started to choke a bit like it was out of gas and then it finally stalled around 10:30 a.m. on a Sunday.

Thank goodness I was only a 10 minute walk from the nearest gas station, the owner of whom had the phone number of a certain auto repair/salvage yard who was the only auto repair/salvage owner who was open on Sundays in the tri-state area.

After towing my car to the garage and instantly diagnosing the problem, he woke Patrick up and told me that he have it fixed and I'd be on my way in time for the concert. Of course, that left me asking the question... "How on earth would he be able to find the parts on a Sunday?"

"Not a problem," says Pat. "I got a guy."

Sure enough, Patrick replaced the timing belt, tension pulley, and other fan belts in less than five hours and I was on my way.

Now, some people might think of my situation as a mini-disaster. Not so. It was a blessing. If I hadn't made the side trip to South Bend, or broke down where I did, the timing belt likely would have gave way on Interstate 94 somewhere between Michigan City and Gary, Indian. I would have had to call the state troopers, had my car towed at great expense to a garage, waited overnight to get it fixed and missed the concert. Instead, I got my car fixed and I was on my way in five hours. Plus I got to meet a truly unique individual and his equally unique son.

Pat was born and raised in La Porte and has lived there all of his 52 years. His office looks like it should be in an American Pickers episode which it almost was because Pat is good friends with Mike (he's the skinny one).

Pat is a Trump supporter mainly because he believes the American political system needs to be blown up before it can ever be fixed and Trump is just the man to blow it up. He's seen company after company go out of business, houses foreclosed and thousands of people in his little area of the American midwest lose their jobs.

To get to the University of Notre Dame, I had to drive through downtown South Bend. It's not just one or two businesses that have been boarded up, it's entire blocks. Everyone of those businesses once generated revenue and taxes, and employed people with families. Today, they're all gone. Jobs have disppeared as if one were to blow the sand off the palm of their hand.

Witnessing the after effect of the declining economy in the American midwest, it's easy to undetstand how people can get so upset over catch phrases like the global economy, and free trade, and how someone like Donald Trump and his motto "Make America Great Again". can resonate with people like Pat Kendig.

Patrick, 24, is a man of few words. He let's his work do his talking for him. He's also autistic. His father ended up having to pull him out of school in Grade 5, after the education system failed to adequately address his needs.

Pat immediately started to teach his aon the ins and outs of fixing cars. Patrick was a quick learner, Before his 13th birthday, Pat was already a master mechanic and his father couldn't be more proud of him.

Besides father and son, Hemi Auto and Towing employs two other characters Jim and Jeremy who help out around the office and do odd jobs.

I used to be a fan of a reality television show called Lizard Lick Towing until I foudn out it was a total fake. If there are any reality television producers out there looking for their next big project, they should consider Hemi Towing anf Auto Repair and Pat and Patrick Kendig. You wouldn't need a script. Just a couple of cameras following them around and telling the story of two honest men putting in an honest day's work to make an honest buck.

It may not be the most entertaining sho, but it would definitetly be one of the most inspiring.

It's why I feel so blessed and fortunate to have broken down on US20 just outside La Porte, Indiana and met a man named Pat Kendig and his son.

Should you ever pass through that neck of the woods, feel free to visit Hemi Auto and Towing and tell the folks there that Fred from Canada says hi. They might even offer you a burger and their unsolicited opinion on globalization and the American body politic.

(If you wish to comment on this or any other View Point column please write to Fred Sherwin at fsherwin@magma.ca)

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