Choosing Austin

Linda Burton posting from Austin, Texas — Charles Maund Toyota, where everyone is family.  That’s where Google directed me for the Scion’s first service appointment in a city unfamiliar to me. Felix took care of me with great efficiency and aplomb, paperwork done in a jiff, coffee in there maam, just have a seat and we’ll get right on it. I asked if I could meet the Manager, I wanted to tell him about the Journey Across America, and why I chose a Scion for the trip.

Felix walked across the parking lot with me, into the main office, knocked on the door of Charles Maund’s Vice President James DiMeo. “Come in, come in” Jim welcomed, listening to my story with appropriate nods, and smiles. “Austin is my first stop in visiting all 50 capital cities,” I explained, “and I really like this city. I can see myself living here.”

Big nod from Jim.  “I’ve just been here five years, but I chose Austin after years of living in southern California. I was born in Rhode Island, then moved to the west coast. Now I’m in Texas by choice. I moved my entire family here! Austin is a great city for family life.”

Of course I had to get pictures. Jim and Felix came outside to pose by the car with me. Felix agreed that Austin is a great place to live “I came here from Guatemala,” he said, “farther away than you!” I was treated well, car done in under an hour — oil changed, tires rotated, everything checked out fine. Jim and Felix promised to follow the Journey. Nice folks. Good business.

Another slant on choosing Austin came at me on the evening news, with the story of the death of Leslie Cochrane, the man who personified “Keep Austin Weird.” Leslie was born in Miami in 1951, attended Florida State University, then traveled the country, driving a truck on the west coast, working at Safeway in Seattle, skinning and tanning road kill in Colorado, living in a bookmobile in Atlanta.

He rode a tricycle to Austin in 1996, where he mostly lived on the streets, often wearing a thong, a boa, and a tiara, speaking up for the plight of the homeless, and even running for mayor three times, focusing on the problems ahead for keeping the city creative and fun.

Austin’s City Council observed a moment of silence in Leslie’s honor at the morning Council meeting, and Mayor Lee Leffingwell decreed March 8 as Leslie Cochrane Day.