As we enter this season of gifts and new stuff, here are some of the places you can turn to for help keeping a few of your favorite things.
Hilltop Service Station
A young man runs around the 15th Ave lot, pumping gas, cleaning windshields, and checking fluid levels; this was decades ago, and not a whole lot has changed. The young man was Mike Burke, now the owner of Hilltop Service Station. He is not quite as young but still running around servicing cars and smiling to customers.
Mike started as a gas pump attendant and worked his way up to partner in the business, then, ultimately, the owner when the original owner passed away. The Hilltop Station has a unique facet that, “nobody in Seattle has,” purports Julie Hanson, a 16-year employee of the station — a full service gas station.
Customers roll up in their cars and a bell rings starting a process that has become almost mythical in the gas service industry: someone fills your gas for you. Unheard of — outside Oregon. Not only that, but s/he also cleans the windshields, checks fluid levels, and provides some heartfelt chit-chat along the way.
Hilltop Service Station was established circa 1966-1967 in the same lot it occupies on the corner of 15th and E Mercer. The garage is conveniently placed for Hill residents to get their car fine-tuned, calipers fixed, oil changed, and of course the full service gas. On this particular day, “it is a zoo,” remarks Hanson, as mechanics shuffle around the garage. “It is usually busy.” I was not able to meet with Burke as he was hard at work.
Hanson tells CHS though that the space is “civilized” and provides a great sense of community and fairness to customers. “I was a customer for 8 years before coming to work here.” Despite not having any training with cars, Hanson would go on to be trained by Burke and become an employee of Capitol Hill’s staple gas station.
Hilltop Service Station is located at 523 15th Avenue East, Seattle, WA 98112. Open Monday-Friday 7 AM-7 PM, Saturday 9 AM-3 PM, closed Sunday. Can be contacted at 206-324-2256.
Metrix – A Robotic Playland
Walking into the Broadway business, one immediately becomes immersed by the dangling wires, and flickering gizmos that can best be described as what the garage of The Terminator would look like. This is Metrix Create: Space a DYI styled work area for community members to learn, build, and nerd out.
“This here is our BFR, which stands for Big Fucking Robot,” Richard de Leon tells me about a large robotic machine held in the backroom. The BFR is a 3-D CNC (computer numerical control) machine which carves out designs on large canvases. De Leon explains the machine has been used to create custom three dimensional doors, totem poles from stumps, and even birthed a video game cabinet for The Unicorn.
The employee of Metrix took me on a tour of the shop and described in-depth the operation and products made by every machine, much of it over my head. “This what Radio Shack used to be,” de Leon says of the space, which recently celebrated its three year anniversary.
From stencil lasers, embroidery machines, and a soldering room, the space has a lot to offer to the technically minded. CHS first covered the opening of Metrix back in 2009 noting its powerful wifi, coffee, and the vending machine with electronic supplies which are still staples of the robo sanctuary.
For those who scratch their head at the thought of using a CNC machine, don’t fret, they’ve got something more your speed. You can borrow and use their “bottomless toolbox” for $5 an hour with just about any conceivable thing you can think of and create, work on, or fix what you want in their workspace area. “Most people (in the area) don’t have a garage — we’re their garage.”
And for those interested in learning more about technology, Metrix offers classes from, Intro to Electronics, Soldering 101, and Getting Started with Amateur Robotics, to name a few… (though if your name is John Conner, you may leave with nightmares.)
Metrix Create: Space is located at 623 Broadway East, Seattle, WA 98102 down the stairs. It is open daily from 12 PM- 12 AM.
Don’t have a car or nothing to solder? Here are other places to get your fix on:
Fix Your Kicks
Broadway Shoe Repair- 815 East Republican Street, Seattle, WA 98102- (206) 328-9496
Fix Your Hoover
Central Vacuum Repair-1310 East Pike Street Seattle, WA 98122- (206) 323-2627
Fix Your Turntable
Platinum Records-915 E Pike St, (between Broadway & 10th Ave), Seattle, WA 98122- (206) 324-8032
Fix Your Netbook
Ebits– 1418 Harvard Ave (between Union St & Pike St) Seattle, WA 98122- (206) 322-2266
Fix Your Bike
Velo Bike Shop– 1535 11th Avenue #100 Seattle, WA 98122, (206) 325-3292
Fix Your Pants
Alterations Plus- 520 15th Ave E, Seattle, WA 98112- (206) 324-4487
Fix Your Broken Arm
Group Health- 201 16th Avenue East Seattle, (206) 326-3000
Fix Your Wall
Capitol Hill Handyman- (206) 659-8244- firstname.lastname@example.org
Fix Your Toilet
Capitol Hill Plumbing (Good Services)– 1715 12th Ave Seattle, WA 98101- (206) 322-3000
Fix Your Mind
Associates in Behavioral Health– 818 12th Avenue Seattle, WA 98122-(206) 329-5255
Sebastian Garrett-Singh is Executive Editor of New City Collegian a student-run continuation of The City Collegian (Seattle’s oldest community college newspaper) based out Seattle Central Community College and is a writing tutor on campus.