I drive an old car. Old cars need repairs. In this particular car, it was a very tired and no longer very effective air conditioning system and August is fast approaching, so I reached out to my trusted mechanic at Morgan Auto on Pico Blvd. Dave is my man there, and his lovely manner in explaining to me why I don’t want to do something, or more frequently, why I do want to some repair, keeps me on the road and coming back to them. So when I decided it was time to recharge my AC system I called and asked them to do it, and was politely referred over to Morris Automotive on 14th.

Apparently I am not the only person thinking that now is the right time to recharge the old AC, because the earliest appointment I could get was almost a week out. That’s actually a good sign in a mechanic shop as I see it. To me it means that they have a large and loyal following of clients.

When I finally was able to get in to the shop,  as I was dutifully sharing my information Bruce the intake guy looks at me and says, “hey don’t you write that column in the paper?” “Yes, yes I do.” “Man I read you! Sometimes you’re spot on!” That was the start of a new friendship. We started sharing stories of life over the years in our little burg.

A day later and my car was ready to be picked up, AC blowing and my car feeling like a meat locker – just like I it. But what I liked more was the small town experience of having my regular mechanic, refer me to another guy who took care of me. I’m kinda old school as I grew up in a small town in northern California called Orinda. It’s the sort of town where people were regulars at the bar, the grocery store and the barber.

My older brother would go every four weeks to see Leo the barber where he received the same haircut, every single time. Today I am the product of my upbringing – I’m a regular at Tel’s Barbershop. Usually it’s Brian who cuts my hair, occasionally it’s his father. Over the years I’ve learned about their family, heard of the vacations to the river, or when one of the boys would take his girlfriend on a trip. Brian and I share stories and 40 minutes later I’m on my way with a freshly shorn melon.

It’s these small town touches, this consistency in life that make for a more enjoyable experience. I know I can go to some high-priced hairstylist who’ll want to sell me highlights or color to hide my ever greying locks, but the truth is that the connection to people and community is what makes these experiences special.

Weekly we’re seeing press releases about some new development that is being planned or approved and with each one comes the death and demolition of at least one familiar business. As much as I know intellectually that the development is a foregone conclusion, and that it can bring with it better and more diverse options, I still wish to linger on the romanticism of the established and familiar.

Just like you can’t make new ‘old friends’, having a regular routine, where the barber knows how I like my hair, or the waiter knows what I’m going to order before I do, brings with it a sense of comfortableness and being a part of, that no amount of new and splashy can replace.

David Pisarra is a Los Angeles Divorce and Child Custody Lawyer specializing in Father’s and Men’s Rights with the Santa Monica firm of Pisarra & Grist.  He welcomes your questions and comments.  He can be reached at dpisarra@pisarra.com or 310/664-9969. You can follow him on Twitter @davidpisarra

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