Another casualty of gas-and-go is the service station mechanic who used to keep many a car on the road. As service stations are transformed into filling stations, their mechanics must look for other work. And that's a pity.

A friend whose car needed repairs took it back to the authorized dealer from whom he had bought it. Later, when he was surprised at the size of the bill, he checked with the factory zone office and learned that he had been outrageously overcharged for a replacement part. He went back to the dealer and said, "I think you made a mistake and overcharged me."

"No," the manager said, "that's not a mistake. We charge more than the retail list price on parts because our overhead is bigger."

An auto owner used to have a personal relationship with the mechanic who worked on his car. There was direct communication, and a feeling of loyalty between the two. But as authorized dealerships grew larger, that relationship diminished. Now an order writer is interposed between customer and mechanic. The order writer never works on a car; the customer never talks to the man who does.

The car owner who yearned for a direct relationship with an old-time mechanic could often find one at his neighborhood service station. Good old Mac or Slim or whatever his name was knew the customer's car as well as he knew his own.

Now the good old Macs and Slims are disappearing, and the car owner who is lucky enough to find one keeps his mouth shut and recommends the man to nobody. Everygood mechanic is already loaded with work, and if he takes on one more customer he'll no longer have time to work on your car.