When Linda Abrants' wheelchair lift gave up on her, Christian Barber, a mechanic, came to her rescue and fixed it at a fraction of the cost.
Linda Abrants was in a quad accident more than 20 years ago. As a result, the former police officer is a paraplegic and uses a wheelchair for mobility. To continue the life of independence she has come to enjoy, Abrants needs her truck. But the wheelchair lift on the truck started to malfunction putting her independence at stake. That was when she met "Mr. Fix It," Christian Barber. Barber has a way with cars and motors. When it came to Abrant's wheelchair lift, he immediately realized the company that had installed it had done a shoddy job. So he quickly came to the rescue.
Mechanic goes the extra mile, spends weeks repairing woman’s wheelchair lift https://t.co/gsJ6dylXv2— TODAY (@TODAYshow) April 6, 2021
"Because of the accident, I am a T-6 paraplegic. I am numb from the waist down," Abrants told 10 WJAR. "At the time after my accident, I was in California and then I was in and out of nursing homes for my entire life. I knew no one was coming for me. I did what I had to do to get out of there and once I did, for two years, I rented rooms from strangers." She previously owned a car but later upgraded to a truck. She had a wheelchair lift installed on it but soon realized it was not dependable. "I tried calling the company, had another company fix the wrong this," she explained. "It's just been a headache and I really need it for everything I do. Using my hands and my upper body strength can only get me so far."
During the lockdown, as part of her daily routine for exercise and fresh air after her gym closed, she would do laps around her complex. It was at this time she spotted Phantom Motor Works, where Barber was the lead technician and member. One day, when her wheelchair lift finally gave up on her, she went to the mechanic shop. "I just saw Linda rolling and one day she needed air in her tires, so I did that for her," Barber recalled. "Then after that, she came back with a malfunction to her wheelchair lift, so I repaired that once and told her that it wasn't put together very well. She came back again and had a major repair that had to be done."
The fix was not going to be easy at all, according to Barber, who despite 24 years of experience fixing things, had never tackled something like this before. But he believed, “If a human put it together, a human can fix it.” He got to work and worked on it for six weeks. "I worked on it myself and found bits and pieces that I had to make it work properly," he said. "You put a little extra love into it and hopefully the person is happy." Barber's wife is also disabled and he could empathize with Abrants. "I understand the struggle and when somebody is not willing, that does that as a profession to help, I don't mind stepping in," he stated.
Despite all the parts that were hard to come by, Barber fixed the wheelchair lift and made it functional. "He had to like reinvent the wheel and figure out a way to make this lift work better and be more dependable for me long term," Abrants said recognizing the extra mile he had gone to fix the apparatus. "He deserves to be recognized for what he did for me." Abrants always believed in the motto: "Believe in you, see the good in you because it forces you to see the good in other people." And she did end up meeting Barber, who has a heart of gold.
When it came to the payment for his services, which would have raked up a bill of thousands of dollars with other mechanics, Barber hardly charged Abrants anything. “It’s the way I was brought up. One hand washes the other,” he told TODAY. Abrants said, "I trusted him and it’s really hard to find a mechanic that you trust," and added, “It just shows there are good people in the world.”