Way back in the sixties when Christos Kenos ran a foreign car repair shop, I had a foreign car, a Volkswagen sedan. During the ’60s, VW’s U.S. exports included square backs, fastbacks, Karmann Ghias, beetles and busses. My first car, the Type 3 sedan, could only be purchased in Europe and then personally shipped by its owner, making it a rarity. The European sedan model had the front end of the fastback with a sedan rear. In what normally would be a storage trunk, sat the engine. So rare, this car was very cool, at least to me. But this story is not about cars.
It was during the summer of 1969 when I was to become a freshman at a college in Connecticut. It was about two hours away from home on Long Island. Already established as a club date musician on Long Island, I desperately needed transportation to get back and forth so to earn some much needed do-re-mi. Any sort of car would do, but sitting slightly damaged, dirty, and lonely under my neighbor’s carport was to become my first automobile. It sat for years and I was told it worked when it first arrived. The price was right, free for the taking. What did have to lose?
My parents did their absolute best to provide for our family of seven, but my college expenses were far out of their reach. I was totally on my own so free was perfect, but getting a car that needed an undetermined amount of work made me slightly anxious.
Car repairs were always very costly. Taking the plunge for what you thought you needed often resulted in several connected complications that also needed attention. Then there’s the issue of overcharging and most critical, the issue of trust. You were at your mechanic’s mercy.
Thanks to Christos Kenos, I began to trust at least one auto mechanic. Twenty-five years later, after many relocations and searches I managed to find another but this story isn’t about cars or mechanics. It’s about Christos’ exchange after my serious inquisition and concern about cost and necessity.
Perhaps it was Christos’ being Greek that had everything to do with it. Like the wisdom of Plato, Socrates and the rest, what he told me became embedded in my philosophy of life. The heavens opened along with blasting thunder and bolts of lightning when I heard in a bold Greco-American inflection, “If you needy, I put-ty. If you no needy, I no put-ty,”
Christos immediately had my full trust in the palms of his hands. Little did he know that his words would have such an impact on my life. His voice rings out loud and clear as I continue to live according to his simple, yet profound message.
Though the VW is long gone, driving through the many twists, turns and detours of today’s new world, I’m once again reiterating and reapplying the wisdom a Greek sage shared over a half century ago. “If you needy, I put-ty. If you no needy, I no put-ty.”
To take the philosophy a step further, let’s consider our creator. Perhaps he too somewhere along the way has had a serious encounter with Christos and has learned to supply his beloved creation with all they “needy” to move forward.