There's plenty of stories of people being ripped off by auto repair shops, but I want to tell you about how a couple honest service people in Portage la Prairie went out of their way to help me. On the morning of March 27th I set out to drive from Winnipeg to Brandon to visit a friend, but decided to stop in Portage for a coffee since I was feeling a little tired. As I pulled into the McDonald's parking lot I noticed my power steering was gone. I saw a Canadian Tire across the road so I drove over there to see if they could have a look at my car. The man at the counter, Service Manager Nick Hourie, was very busy with the phone ringing every few minutes and a customer waiting at the counter as well. None the less Nick took time to find out what my issue was and confessed he was short two people in his shop that day so it would take a couple hours before they could even look at my car, let alone fix it. Knowing I was not a local he recommended I try a small auto repair shop about a kilometer away. He gave me directions to the place which were reinforced by the customer waiting for service. Nick even called the auto repair shop to see if they had time to look at my vehicle. I then drove over to Ed Thurston’s Auto Repair which is tucked away across the railway tracks out of sight of the main road leading west out of Portage. This was clearly a small operation and the owner, Al Walker who bought it from Ed when he retired, was busy as well, but he greeted me warmly. When he looked at my vehicle it was clear the battery was nearly dead, the belt that helped keep it charged had shredded off because of a broken idler pulley. After a quick series of online searches and a couple phone calls it was clear there was no way a part could be found for my old Subaru. In fact, it would take at least five business days before the part could be sent from Calgary and the Easter long weekend was on the horizon. Nonetheless Al suggested charging the battery so that I could drive the car back to Winnipeg, but he warned me I could not use my radio, car heater, wipers or even turn signals less the battery die before I get home. When the battery was charged and I was ready to leave I got ready to pay for the service, but Al waved me off, wrote down the numbers for the parts I needed and wished me luck. He even advised me to use the nearest exit to the Trans Canada Highway rather than drive back through town. It was a slightly tense drive home, but I made it back to Winnipeg and in the process saved a lot of cash, time and aggravation at having to either leave my vehicle in Portage for repairs, or worse have it towed back to my local repair shop. If it wasn't for the helpfulness and generosity of these people in Portage I would have had a miserable time of it, but in the end I am more than a little grateful for the kindness and wisdom of strangers.
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