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The Silent Sentinel


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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 to Johnny.

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 American countryside.

Just then the Sentinel heard the service bell again ring its familiar note.