Unobtrusive Angels

From the Regal Heights Review Fall 2019, Vol I

By Beth Marcilio

We have all had the experience of a friend or stranger appearing at a crucial moment in our lives and saving a situation. It can happen suddenly or over time. It can be large or small, but kindness is always at the heart of it. There is something extra to the event. Perhaps it is just luck, or is it heaven sent? Regal Heights has its share of these people, neighbours who lend a hand when you need it most, without having to be asked. Here are the stories of just two of these unobtrusive angels.

Dave Williams at the Grand Prix Garage

When an old woman drives into a garage with a clean but old, low-mileage car the garage crew sometimes think, “Here’s a live one”. They service the car and then come out front with a serious face and news that work needs to be done on the brakes or the transmission or something else that will cost a lot, but will save lives. This scenario is quite familiar to me, but I found a notable exception in the neighbourhood.

When my son was a teenager and driving an old Mazda RX 7, he used to praise a garage on St. Clair. I took no notice; he was young and gullible. But that shop moved and became the Grand Prix Garage, tucked in just north of St. Clair on Winona, opposite the TD Bank.

Dave Williams runs Grand Prix. One day I had a flat tire. As my car wobbled into the garage, Dave reminded me of Rod Stewart. Well, that was a bonus and a good start to some years of reliable service and remarkable kindness.

Dave (or Rod as I call him) offered to drive me home. I demurred. He insisted. The car needed an oil change and the bill was more than fair. No charge for mending the tire. Since the flat, Dave/Rod has given consistent, excellent service and prevented some accidents with his skill and experience.

Last winter CAA had to boost my battery twice, but the battery was worn out. When I asked for a tow on my prime top-of-the-line membership card, they said they couldn’t walk on the ice to my garage.

To the rescue came Dave Williams, who boosted the spent battery and drove the car back to Grand Prix to install a new one. He phoned me soon after and asked, “Do you ever smell burning when you are driving?”. I had not noticed a smell but had seen what could have been smoke or steam emitting from the hood. I had even called the fire brigade who could see nothing from the top of the engine. (Those good fire fighters, however, carried my heavy grocery bags right into the kitchen for me.)

When Dave put the car on a hoist he noticed oil leaking onto the hot engine. I could have had a fire or been blown up or at least had a permanent wave from the resulting heat. Perhaps Dave saved my life.

After a routine servicing one day, Dave said casually, “I did a bit of body work”. He had removed and repaired all the rust creeping around the rockers of my aged but beloved Subaru. No charge–just a kindness. And it’s not just me. My referrals to Grand Prix are fellow devotees.

There are many examples of the good service, kindness and humour that I have experienced at the Grand Prix Garage. I am reminded of Chorus in Shakespeare’s “Henry the Fifth” who said,

“The little more, and oh how much it is”.

Danelia George at the LCBO

One snowy day about two years ago, I did my errands before the weather really closed in and became the big storm that had been forecast. My last call was at the liquor store on St. Clair and Alberta.

As I browsed the shelves and put bottles in my cart, the blizzard set in with all its might and I was worried I would drop my precious bag of booze with a slip on the ice.

“Don’t worry,” said Danelia at the check out, “I’ll take the bag out to your car”.  She carried the bag and steadied me on the slippery street, through the storm and to the car. It was quite a distance. I could not thank her enough but it took me some time to leave her a small gift and a thank you note.

A year later Danelia was again at the check out. She saw me and ran to the back of the store to bring me a small envelope. It was a thank you note to me for thanking her. This is what it said: “Thank you so much for your card and present. It was a nice surprise. You are very kind and it was my pleasure helping you no matter how long ago it was. I’d do it again in a heartbeat”.