Loudon mechanic goes the extra mile to help wife of Concord Guardsman
Michael Wiggett, the owner of H & W Automotives, gets a hug from customer Gail McCauley after she presented him with a certificate from the organization Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve on November 14, 2013 at his garage in Loudon.
(ANDREA MORALES / Monitor staff)
Michael Wiggett, the owner of H & W Automotives, left, was honored by customer Gail McCauley, right, for his help during her husband's deployment to Afghanistan on November 14, 2013. McCauley brought the organization Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve to present a certificate to Wiggitt.
(ANDREA MORALES / Monitor staff)
First, it was the check fluid light. Then the check engine light. Then the right headlight, followed by the left. And a tire. And the heater.
With her husband deployed in Afghanistan, these car problems could’ve given Gail McCauley a lot to worry about – he always handled this kind of thing. How would she know she was getting a fair price? Could she wait all day at the mechanic’s without anyone to pick her up? Would she be able to afford one fix after another?
But McCauley never had to worry about these things, because right before her husband, Kory, was deployed, he found Mike Wiggett. Before leaving in February, he stopped by H&W Automotive in Loudon and asked Wiggett to look the car up and down.
“I don’t want her to have any problems,” he said.
So when the problems began, Wiggett did what he could to take care of them, as quickly and cheaply as possible.
Topping off the fluids? On the house.
That check engine light? McCauley just needed to screw the gas cap on tighter.
Fixing the headlights? 10 bucks a piece.
The heater, which Gail assumed would be a few hundred dollars? For free.
“I said, ‘Well I owe you something,’ ” McCauley recalled. “And he’s like, ‘No, no charge. . . . Your husband’s taking care of us, we’re taking care of you.’ ”
For Wiggett, choosing to help McCauley was simple.
“Her husband’s away,” he said. She “has no clue as far
as what’s going on with her vehicle. I hate to see someone get taken advantage of – that’s why we did it.”
To honor Wiggett and his team, McCauley showed up yesterday at the shop with a volunteer for Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve and presented him with a framed certificate for “Outstanding Performance.” The organization usually honors businesses that employ members of the Guard and Reservists, but McCauley asked them to present a special award to Wiggett, too. It was the least she and Kory could do after everything Wiggett had done for her, including squeezing her car in right away so she wouldn’t have to wait.
“My husband’s like, ‘That’s not right, you’ve got to give him something,’ ” McCauley said. “We just want him to know that it’s so appreciated (with) everything I’ve been going through, and these little things just build up.”
Kory deployed with the 237th Military Police Company of the New Hampshire National Guard in February, and he’ll return in February 2014. Although Kory’s been deployed before, this is his first time since he and McCauley have been together. The couple, who live in Concord, have been together for four years and got married in August 2012.
Since he’s been gone, they video chat twice a day. But it’s not the same.
“You know when little things happen, at the end of the night you have your person to go home to, and then you reset. Well, I don’t have that anymore. It’s like things just build up, and I’m not going to reset for a whole year until he’s actually home, and then I can actually relax,” McCauley said.
Wiggett’s help – especially given all the car trouble McCauley’s faced this year – takes away at least some of those “little things.”
Wiggett, of Epsom, bought H&W, located on Ricker Road, in 2006. He runs the shop with just one other employee, Greg Knowlton. Although it’s only open Monday through Friday, all the calls go right to his cell phone, so he can answer people on weekends, too. He’s never been in the military, but he appreciates Kory’s service and decided to help however he could.
Knowlton also chipped in when Wiggett wasn’t available. When the heater on McCauley’s Saab broke, she first turned to her other car, hoping that she wouldn’t have to pay to fix the heater. When that car wouldn’t start, she had it towed to H&W. Wiggett was out of town, but Knowlton was ready to help.
“He’s like, ‘Oh, I know about you, here’s my home phone number if you ever need anything.’ He took care of my brakes (and) my oil change,” McCauley said.
That home number came in handy when it came time to honor Wiggett. McCauley wanted the small event to be a surprise, so she called Knowlton first to make sure Wiggett would be in the shop yesterday afternoon. Wiggett was humble as McCauley thanked him for everything he’d done.
“It’s quite a shock, quite a surprise,” he said. It “means a lot.”
His help has meant a lot to McCauley.
“This guy deserves to be recognized, because you don’t expect it,” McCauley said.
Then she turned to Wiggett and said simply: “You’re a kind guy.”
(Kathleen Ronayne can be reached at 369-3390 or firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @kronayne.)