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Sink Your Fangs Into This!

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Andy Batchelor is the former owner of Andy’s Auto Body of Alton, Inc. in Alton, Ill., and had been a self-employed automotive repair owner for more than 30 years. He’s a certified Automotive Specialist with training from Rankin Technical School, has achieved the I-CAR Platinum Individual designation, has Master Collision Certification from ASE and a degree in Business Administration from Lewis and Clark Community College. Batchelor also serves as I-CAR’s Southern Illinois Training Chairman. Batchelor and his wife, Nancy, reside in Alton, Ill., and have two children, both married and living in the suburbs of Chicago.


The truth never stands in the way of a good story … especially when it’s true!

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Here’s a typical scenario for many of us: You’ve had a hard day at work, and you can’t wait to get home to be greeted by the one who gives you that unconditional love and appreciation you so desperately need: your pet, whether he be furry, fuzzy or scaly.

Yep, I said scaly. Wonder why I can’t remember how many times I’ve said, “I can’t wait to get home to curl (or coil) up with my pet snake”? Oh … yea … probably because I don’t have a pet snake.

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Most people don’t like snakes — let alone want to own one — so I’m sure that Mrs. Robertson, one of my shop’s regular customers, was elated when her son announced that his pet snake was missing in action. (The snake didn’t yet have a name — they hadn’t had him long enough to name him. Call him anything you want except, “Little Andy.” How about we call him Jake the Snake.)

Jake was last seen in the family garage, where he lived.

Mrs. Robertson logically assumed Jake had escaped to the wild jungles of Alton, Ill., to live freely among his own kind — at least until we had our first warm, spring day about three weeks after the snake moved out.

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That day, Mrs. Robertson decided to turn on the A/C in her Jeep Cherokee to cool off a little and to get rid of the humidity in the air. But when she did, a horrible odor came blasting out of all the vents.  Mrs. Robertson thought the smell was suspiciously reptilian.

Which is how we came into the picture.

We’d previously done work for the Robertson’s (standard stuff — nothing strange), so when she came in asking that we check for an odor coming from the dash, we agreed to do exploratory surgery.

Five hours later — after totally dismantling the dash and draining the R-134 Freon out of the A/C — we took out the A/C evaporator and found the odor: Jake, her son’s pet snake!

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We were obviously too late to save Jake — the odor indicated the snake had been dead for several weeks. Regardless, our unsuccessful rescue attempt cost Mrs. Robertson about $500 — who likely considered it money well spent to be rid of Jake once and for all.

I love happy endings.*

* In our future marketing, I’m considering advertising that we do vehicular rescue work.  

Andy Batchelor owns Andy’s Auto Body of Alton, Inc. in Alton, Ill., and has been a self-employed automotive repair owner for nearly 30 years. He’s a certified Automotive Specialist with training from Rankin Technical School, has achieved the I-CAR Platinum Individual designation, and has Master Collision Certification from ASE and a degree in Business Administration from Lewis and Clark Community College. He also serves as I-CAR’s Southern Illinois Training Chairman. He can be reached at [email protected]

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Special thanks: to our own personal, in-house snake hunter, Chris Brown, who also works as a medium-hit technician for me when he’s not dismantling dashes and rescuing escaped snakes.

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