By David Taylor
He stood quietly at attention, patiently waiting. With his freshly polished glass
globe beaming atop and cool white lights glowing about his chest cavity, truly a
site to behold was he, as he stood proudly in all his regal glory.
Time passed and he began to recall an event from earlier in the day, in which
one of his favorite customers came to visit. The grill of the vehicle reminded him
of a humans face. Drooping eyes with a multi-tooth grill and an oversized lower lip
graced her elegant and gleaming frontal area. Her easily recognizable hood ornament
served it's function well, as a centerpiece to accentuate her sexy streamlined exterior.
As she slowly swaggered her way towards him, his excitement grew. When her front
tires rolled over the red hose, the bells chime alerted the Sentinel's partner that
his services were required.
Forward she proceeded until the silent Sentinel could see the happy family within
the confines of her luxurious passenger compartment area. Coming to a stop, her brilliant
brake lights glowing were not unlike the finest of rubies, then they went dark. Little
Johnny was always in the back seat waiting, until those rubies ceased to glow.
Up Johnny jumped to afford a better view while the Sentinel waited anxiously
to conduct his appointed task.
The Sentinel could recall his partner Lee, arriving right on cue. His
uniform and cap reassured the customer of his professional and eager intent.
As Lee approached, the gentleman rolled his window down to exchange salutations.
It was always the same as Lee offered his greeting, ''fillerup with supreme,
Mr. Smith?'' With many customers, this suggested ploy could work. Mr. Smith,
however, liked to maintain a clean windshield and he knew what an expert Lee had
become with a squeegee and sponge.
''Three dollars regular, Lee'', came Mr. Smith's reply.
Lee offered his services to check the engine and fluid levels as he plucked the
brass tire pressure gauge from his shirt pocket. Mr. Smith showed his appreciation
as he activated the hood release lever.
Johnny's face lit up with anticipation when Lee reset the counter. The animations
on the Sentinel's chest were about to come to life! Luminous displays featuring a
multi-colored whirligig that was soon to begin spinning mysteriously inside a glass
housing as the odometers numbers rolled around and around. Chimes rang their happy
note, while the sound of clicking and the whirling of the pumps electric motor played
out its mechanical symphony as each gallon of fuel was pumped into her tank, in effort
to pacify the vehicles perpetual thirst.
While the Sentinel provided his theatrical distraction, his partner went about
his duties with well rehearsed efficiency.
After Lee checked and corrected the tires air pressure, he proceeded to the underhood
area. With his red towel he would wipe the oil from the dipstick, and to remove any
dribblings from the chrome funnel-topped glass oil jar, if ''topping off '' of the
oil level had become necessary. Battery connections and all fluids were to be tended
to. Often a visual inspection could result in additional sales or labor while earning
a customers patronage as well as his trust.
''Mr. Smith, your fan belt is looking a little tired, would you like it replaced
?'' then Lee added,''and one of your wiper blades is torn''.
Mr. Smith kindly and politely declined the offer. Asking for a California road
map, he handed Lee three dollars plus a 25c tip.
With a colorful map and S&H greenstamps in hand, Lee once again approached
the vehicle. After giving Mr. Smith these requested articles, he smiled and reached
in his pocket that produced a small lithographed cardboard box, which he presented
Wide eyed, Johnny could not contain his excitement as he exclaimed, ''Mommy,
Daddy look at the little gas pump Lee has given to me!'' pointing to the
Sentinel he declared ''it looks just like that one!''
With a friendly wave goodbye, Johnny and his family set about their way to partake
in a family motoring adventure while discovering the majestic scenery of the great
Just then the Sentinel heard the service bell again ring its familiar note.