Mechanic works to classical beat Music: When Bob Trolinger repairs cars, the background sounds are Chopin, Tchaikovsky and Bach, instead of the country strains of Garth Brooks and Reba McEntire.

November 23, 1997|By Edward Lee | Edward Lee,SUN STAFF

For most people, looking at a catalytic converter doesn't bring thoughts of Chopin, a transaxle seems a long way from Tchaikovsky and a water pump isn't even close to Wagner.

But they all come together at Johns Hopkins Texaco Service Center in Fulton. That's because every other Saturday, part-time mechanic Bob Trolinger works on cars while he blasts classical music from a small but powerful boombox at the service station on Johns Hopkins Road.

"It's soothing, inspiring, stirring," the 41-year-old Ellicott City resident says of the music playing in the service bay. "It puts me in a very good mood to do my work."

Customers seem surprised to hear violins and flutes wafting from the garage, instead of the twang of country or throbbing of heavy metal.

"If that's what the guys like, more power to them," says Kevin Krygier, 39, of North Laurel, who had brought his car in to get a fill-up. "It does seem kind of unusual in this day and age."

Adds John Sasser, 67, of North Laurel: "I love classical music. So I like that they're playing it."

Credit the sounds to Trolinger, who has worked at the Texaco station for 15 months, and to an unwritten rule that the mechanic in charge gets to tune the radio.

Trolinger says he has been a fan of classical music since he was a boy, developing his ear by listening to opera on the radio Saturday afternoons.

His appreciation intensified when he enrolled at the Grace and St. Peter's Church School in Baltimore, where the students were taught classical music and made regular visits to Baltimore Symphony Orchestra events.

Trolinger says he switched to rock 'n' roll as a teen-ager at Ellicott Mills Middle School and Howard High School. But he returned to the classical fold while he was a ship engineer in Asia from 1982 to 1992, Trolinger says.

"When you have a moment of solitude during a night on the sea, classical music is a great companion," he says. "With all those stars in the sky and classical music playing, you begin to appreciate life."

Since then, Trolinger has been a classical music junkie. His favorite composers are Ludwig van Beethoven -- "He's got such a wide range and the most commanding presence" -- and Giuseppe Verdi -- "also known as Joe Green," Trolinger translates. "He's got so many familiar overtures that people would recognize."

Trolinger finds his background music on stations out of Baltimore, Bethesda and Washington.

But not everyone enjoys sharing their wrenches with the sounds of Schubert and Bach.

"I like the music and all, but I don't like it that much," says attendant Randy Hill, 19, who says he'd rather listen to country. "We all have different tastes, and it's a constant battle over the radio."

But at least one of Trolinger's co-workers says he doesn't mind Trolinger's tastes in music.

"It's a nice break from the usual Top 40 stuff," says Chris Giotta, 16, who brought in his "Braveheart" compact disc one Saturday. "It's different."

Trolinger says he takes the good-natured ribbing from his co-workers and customers in stride.

"Some people say I'm putting on airs, but I don't mind other music," he says.

"We all have our personal preferences, and this is what I settle on."

Pub Date: 11/23/97

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