It was only because of the recession that I moved in with a roommate, after more than a decade of living on my own. And it was only because of the roommate situation that I began renting a cramped office space in the garage of a hot rod and auto shop in Austin, Texas. There was a desk, a chair, Internet access. I’m a freelance writer. It was all that I needed.
My office came with other things: a dirty brown carpet, drum sets and car parts, a pit bull, a vintage record player, old issues of Playboy, Hot Rod, Super Chevy and Motor Trend magazines. It also came with the Guys.
"The Guys" is my collective name for Kenny, the owner of the shop, which is known as the International House of Hot Rods, and the three other men who work there: Miles the Brit and Oliver and Olivier, both French. The window in front of my desk looks out onto the smaller of the shop’s two car lifts, and on any given day, when I look up from my computer, I can stare out at the underbelly, for example, of a '59 Dodge...