Meeting gearheads in my small town is a relatively easy exercise. You alley walk.
For a three block radius from the main drag in town, situated behind the houses that line the residential streets are driveway alleys. They provide convenient rear entry access for the homeowners, relatively unfettered gathering right-of-way for our bi-weekly trash pick up (you heard me, twice a week my refuse is swept away), and the perfect p.o.v. ingress for garage voyeur opportunities.
On more than one happy occasion I've struck up friendly conversations with folks both under hood and under chassis while walking the family hound up and down the alleys.
Once I clearly identify myself as not being affiliated in any way with one of the many religious organizations who prey, um I mean, witness their messages of peace and love via doorbell rings or driveway interventions, my small town neighbors have shown 100% favorable reaction to my alleywalk impromptu gearhead visitations.
And while the temptation to join my new found motorhead mates in synergistic internal combustion bonding has been great at times ("If you have another ratchet, I'll change the left bank plugs while you do the right..."), I generally scoot on my way content with the knowledge that the fine art of shade tree mechanicking is still alive and running at 8000 rpms in my small town.
Fast Rewind to last week and my family's brief Spring Break-o-rama at my Mom's So Cal condo digs.
I spotted this spanking Evo poking it's perky nose out the front of it's garage while taking out the trash one morning. Walking by I noticed a pair of feet sticking out from under the tail of the ramped up rear-end, alongside a shiny new cat-back aftermarket exhaust setup sitting on the floor. Ah-hah, I exclaimed, as my brain signaled some performance modding occurring in the general vicinity.
My flip-flopped steps combined with the thunderous sound the dumpster lid barked as it slammed shut onto my deposited trash caused the Evo mechanic to look out and around his project. The sight of me smiling like a garage-snooping-small-town-alley-walker must have freaked him out some, as he just kinda scowled, checked around his immediate area to see if something had gone missing, and called (in Chinese, I'm guessing) to an unseen person in the kitchen area located adjacent to the garage.
I was about to utter, "nice car..." but the survival instincts ingrained in my brain as a born and bred Los Angeleno finally awoke from it's small town slumber. As my gray matter database of city living accessed how my actions could be interpreted and misconstrued as an invasion of privacy, my casing a joint for future theft, or even challenging in an aggressive manner, my feet carried me quickly away.
Out of the corner of my eye two additional fellows emerged from the kitchen area. I knew better than to turn around for a looksee, but my gut told me that all three sets of eyes followed me on my hasty retreat to "my side of the condo complex."
So now I'll be on the lookout for any Evo owners on my alley walks in my small town to see if they're all that cranky or paranoid.
Keeping my distance of course.