I had a minor panic attack the other day when the clasp of my Garmin broke. I called all over town to see if any of the running stores had replacement bands. Nobody had anything in stock.
Today I was holding that same watch in my hotel and a wild thought crossed my mind. “Maybe I should try taking it to a watch repair shop.”
Ha . . . yeah, right. Watch repair shops went out of style in the 90’s, right?
I sheepishly asked the Concierge if there happened to be a watch repair shop in the neighborhood, and without missing a beat she started running her highlighter over the local map, then drew a big “X.”
“Yep, right here. You’re about 4 blocks away.”
This sounded too good to be true. I took the map without asking for the name or address, and looking for the old theater this “watch repair shop” was next to. I fully expected it to be some kind of surf shop/indiglo hipster place selling disposable neon watches, but then I saw it with my own eyes, “The Watch Shop.”
A tear dropped on my cheek as I swung open the door and heard it knock against a real bell. Within 4 seconds an older gentleman with one of those telescope deals on his eye had sprung to his feet and was graciously asking how he could help me.
“Well, sir, this could be a long shot, but I broke my running watch and I was hoping maybe you could help me out for my race on Sunday.”
“Let me see what ya got there, son,” he said with the confidence of a brain surgeon.
He quickly deduced I had “broken off my tongue” and matter-of-factly asked if I cared what color the new one was.
“Heck no, any color is better than duct tape.”
He neither found that comment funny or annoying. My baby Garmin was already under the bright lights of surgery.
Then he got a phone call and was rattling off “watch lingo” faster than an auctioneer. He laid out 3 different scenarios to his inquisitive customer.
“You could go gold plate, or imitation, or 20th century gothic . . . ”
I scanned the room and all I saw were . . . watches. This guy had brand focus down cold and I knew I was in good hands.
Suddenly I felt almost petty in his world. Here I am bringing potentially the finest Watch Surgeon in the South a rubber wrist band and asking for a tongue replacement? What a joke, he must have thought. He was surely more caught up in his conversation about Gothic and gold.
Two minutes later he approached the counter, “Well, I can still talk on the phone and work.”
He handed me my watch and it felt like I was holding a priceless relic coming from his hands. The man who has built and repaired watches for Louisville’s finest citizens. I didn’t have to ask, but knew for certain he had repaired watched for Muhammad Ali and maybe even Colonel Sanders himself.
“Five bucks,” he said looking at my Muncie 70.3 shirt.
“Muncie Cardinals, huh?”
“Yeah, I said, but we all know the real Cardinals are in Louisville.”
“Yes, they are,” he said handing me my hand written receipt, “and they fly for the first time of the year on Labor Day.”
I fastened my watch, then heard the clang of the bell when I opened the door before turning around, “Sir?”
He stopped in his tracks, “Yes?”
“There are some fine establishments in Louisville, but from what I have seen, this is on top of the list.”
He waved, sat down, then started repairing another watch.