It’s never good when your friend tells you to save the part being replaced at the garage because they can be made into swords. The backend of my ’99 Toyota Tacoma has been rattling around for over four months, so like any responsible car owner, I finally crawled on all four and took a peek. Dragging alongside the back right tire was a severed piece of metal from my leaf spring. It had been rattling around and playing a game of matador with my tire. I didn’t know it at the time but I could have ended up as hamburger if I didn’t get this fixed immediately.
I called around town looking for somebody to replace the leaf spring and everyone (and I can’t put too fine of a point on this but everyone) said take it to AAA Spring out on 900 West. After comparing prices, I loaded up my bicycle in the back of the truck and headed out there. Tucked inside of an industrial complex around 2900 South, there was this large warehouse filled with school buses, long strips of metal, aged men in overalls and no air conditioning. It was a hot mess of men torching metal and fashioning leaf springs by hand with nothing more than an anvil and a thousand years of blacksmithing.
Compared to the average blacksmith apprentice, every man in America is a wuss. Short of Navy SEALs, big game hunters and Kimbo Slice, everyman in this country is a dress-wearing girl in high heels and a face full of make-up. These guys work in a pit shaping metal with their hands. Moreover, they know it. There’s nothing worst then some grizzled man in his mid-60s staring you down because you don’t know how to use a forge and anvil. That takes a lot of nerve. It’s not like I was shooting dagger at him because he doesn’t know how to make a Mojito or a Harvey Wallbanger.
Once again, I was reminded how close I was to killing myself and anybody with a four-square block if I continued to drive on busted leaf springs. The shop foreman quoted me a respectable price and set to work on my truck. I could have just sat in the small office reading a magazine but I elected to ride my bike home. Unfortunately, I had my beach cruiser. So, I rode off looking like Pee Wee Herman as the toughest sons of bitches got to work.
If I thought I was anything other than an eight year-old girl at a tea party, I would have taken their glances personally. What I couldn’t stop thinking about was the fact that this shop was universally regarded as the best in Salt Lake City. There was no discussion from all five shops that I called when looking for the best people to replace my leaf springs. From price to quality of work, I was told that there was no other place in town other than AAA Spring to take my truck. Is there any other shop in Salt Lake so generally considered to be the best that there is no discussion?
When I first moved to Salt Lake eleven years ago, I hated it. I didn’t know anybody. I couldn’t figure out the streets. I didn’t know where to shop for groceries, rent a movie or get a burger. Private clubs and sidecars ruined every bar experience and I was still wrapping my brain around why I moved to Mormon Mecca. Unlike a lot of people who move to a new city, I remember the exact date I moved to SLC. It was two days after the tornado. I should have headed back to Nevada the next day. Hell, all of my stuff was still in boxes. It wouldn’t have been that difficult.
Yet, I stayed. Everything that I took for granted in Las Vegas was thrown out the window and I started to compile my best of Utah on a daily basis. I figured out the city, met friends and learned where to get a decent burger (The Busy Bee or The Cotton Bottom). I realized that private clubs were for suckers, our grid system makes driving in Salt Lake easier than anywhere else in the world and Las Vegas wasn’t the healthiest place to grow up. I think what really made the connection to Salt Lake was that I was slowly replacing all of my “Best of Nevada” with “Best of Utah.”
As a bartender, having the Best of Utah at my fingertips is a part of the job. I get asked by every guest so many questions about Salt Lake that I feel I should be working for the Chamber of Commerce. Want the best seafood, I have a place. Want the best movie theater, I got that too. You answer these questions long enough behind the bar and you’ll eventually have a list long enough to suffice any guest.
Little did I know that I would be adding AAA Spring to that list someday. I caught a ride back to their shop, surveyed the work and agreed that it was fantastic. Bands of steel were wrapped together giving my truck the quietest ride I have had in a year. I wouldn’t have known this a decade ago. In truth, I wouldn’t have known what a leaf spring was ten years ago.