Gary Conkling Life Notes

Mostly whimsical reflections on life

Picassos with a Dent Lifter

Some people chase rainbows, others chase hail storms. They are the hail-chasing paintless dent removers.

hailchaserIce balls from heaven dent cars. Auto body shops can pound them out, but that usually takes time, requires new paint and involves a rental car, which makes it spendy.

Paintless dent removers, who are mobile and often work from the back of pickup trucks, pull out dents in your car while it sits in your own driveway, for a fraction of the cost and inconvenience.

Real artists can make dents disappear. Like all artists, paintless dent removers vary in their skill and vision. Those just starting out are like children with crayons. Experienced dent removers are like Picassos with dent lifters.

Paintless dent removal is an occupation on the upswing, thanks to climate change. Hail storms are increasing and people with dents in their cars are multiplying. Think of it as the inverse of the ice cap melting and polar bears disappearing.

Dent removal, it seems, is a sustainable business. Dents are caused naturally by hail digging divots on your hood. They are removed with tools powered only by elbow grease.

And, according to dent removers interviewed by NPR, it is a job that can pay a family wage, often ascending into six figures.

The downside is the travel. You can’t just wait around for hail to drop in your home town. You have to chase the clouds and hailstorms, wherever they lead, because that’s where the motherlode of dents will be.

As with paint by numbers, do-it-yourself dent removal can be learned by tuning in to YouTube. In fact, you could binge-view DIY dent removal videos while taking a break from binge-viewing Game of Thrones or House of Cards episodes.

One of my favorites is the 11:05-minute “Glue Pulling Tutorial,” which pretty much is like a visual explanation of how you do a magic trick. Videos are posted by companies that sell dent removal equipment, hot glue and products such as Dent Out and Pops-a-Dent. There is even a “Extreme Dent Removal” video.

Many of these videos have thousands of views. More than 101,000 people watched “How to Remove Hail Damage or Door Ding with a Dent Lifter Glue Puller.” That’s better viewership than some bad B movies.

hailstonesHowever, if you value your time, your car’s painted surface and the already overflowing tool chest in your garage, you may just want to call an experienced dent removal artist. He or she already has all the tools and glue and has pulled out dents in places on your vehicle  you would have no idea how to reach.

Otherwise you could be like the owner of late-model Mercedes Benz who commented on a dent removal video, “What kind of glue was that again and where do I go on the web to find the tools?”

Of course, if you are looking for a new career, dent remover could be just the ticket. You could un-dent your neighborhood, then move on to greater indentations. You could expand from pulling out hail-caused dents to dents caused by running into garbage cans. Why stop there when maybe your newfound techniques also could work on removing refrigerator dents.

And with climate change speeding up, there should be plenty of chances for international travel. Just don’t forget to ask the airline if you can remove the dents on plane you’ve flown chasing hailstorms.

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