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About Utah: They raise 'em right down in Beaver

Published: Tuesday, Aug. 10 2010 11:13 p.m. MDT

BEAVER — Couple a things you should know about this place:

If you happen to drive a German-made vehicle, like, say, an Audi, do not break down here.

But if you do, get in touch with these guys: Mykel Gillins, Brandon Jensen and Dustin Godfrey.

They will more or less save your life.

A week ago last weekend, my family was en route to vacation in San Diego when we exited the freeway in the sleepy southern Utah farm town of Beaver and pulled into a Shell station to fill up.

When we went to leave, the car wouldn't start.

The battery wasn't dead, and I knew for an absolute fact we were not out of gas.

That exhausted my mechanical knowledge.

Compounding the problem was the fact that it was 10 o'clock on Friday night.

But across from the gas pumps, lo and behold, the lights were still on in the service bay.

Mykel Gillins, 18, was helping Brandon Jensen, also 18, install some tires on his car.

Seeing the hood up on my car was, to these guys, like a flame to a moth.

It also could be that my teenage daughter, Tori, helped.

In no time, they were assessing the situation like a NASCAR pit crew. You name it. They guessed it. Vapor lock. Timing belt. Bad gas. Fuel pump. Faulty starter.

They dispatched me inside to buy a can of Gunk engine starter. They shot it directly into the fuel line, and the engine roared to life, albeit briefly.

"Let's just keep doing that," I suggested.

"Naw," they said. "Give her too much, and she'll explode."

By this point, Dustin Godfrey, 19, had showed up, his shift at the Conoco on the other end of town over for the day. He had come from the Conoco to the Shell to shut down Friday night with his friends, Beaver style.

We had crawled ourselves right into an Alan Jackson song.

For a good hour, Mykel, Brandon and Dustin continued to lock wits with the German engine. They poked under the hood. They crawled under the car. They kicked stuff. Periodically, they would give her another shot of the ether.

Finally, they guessed — correctly, as it turned out — it was a bad fuel pump and joined me in staring at the inanimate object.

Fortunately, a motel — the Comfort Inn & Suites — adjoined the Shell Station.

"How lucky is that?" I said to the kids.

But the motel had distressing news: no vacancy.

The woman running the desk said there was a baseball tournament in Cedar City — 50 miles away — and it had filled up all the motels in Beaver.

"Not a room to be had anyplace in town. Wish I could help ya," she said, although she didn't put much heart into it.

It was starting to look like a night in the car.

But the Beaver boys, the good Samaritans with a can of Skoal in their jeans, were not through. Suddenly, cell phones were ringing all over town. Mykel and Dustin took off. The next thing we knew, they were back.

"Throw your stuff in," they said. "Found you a room."

The woman at the counter of the Country Inn smiled and for some reason gave us the weekday rate.

Must've been 'cause of our new friends.

Being that Beaver has exactly zero taxis, Dustin said he'd come by to drive me to the Chevron the next morning, where Rick Jarvis — "the best mechanic in town," in the estimation of the boys — would be the man to see.

I hesitated before calling Dustin at 7 a.m. I swear I heard his truck start up across town two minutes later. It's a big old Dodge diesel with 403,000 miles on it. He picked me up at 7:09. His radio was playing "Don't Back Down."

From there, the story gets kinda conventional. Beaver Valley Chevron indeed took care of us. It was indeed the fuel pump. They couldn't get one until Monday, apparently because it had to come from Stuttgart — "this isn't a good car for a small town," said Rick. But Rick knew how to hit the fuel pump with a hammer and get it started. I called my brother Dee in Sandy and talked him into coming down and swapping cars with me.

In the meantime, I told Rick about the great assistance we had received from Beaver's fine teenagers. I described Dustin to him — wears jeans and a T-shirt and drives a diesel pickup you can hear coming from a hundred miles away.

He arched an eyebrow. "You just described half the boys in this town," he said.

Hopefully — and whoever's raisin' 'em, they're raisin' 'em right.

Lee Benson's column runs Monday, Wednesday, Friday and Sunday. Please send e-mail to benson@desnews.com.

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