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The mechanic had hot pink nails

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Molly Nolan tools her way into a man’s world

By Carolyn Ten Broeck

Approaching the truck with the raised hood, all that’s visible is a slim figure laboriously clanging away at a motor.

Step closer and notice that the mechanic has a mane of dark hair, tied up to prevent errant hairs from getting in the way.

Smears of grease and oil are visible to the elbow, but when the figure emerges from under the hood, be prepared to be struck by a flash of hot pink fingernails peaking from beneath grease covered hands.

The mechanic is a girl.

Molly Nolan, 27, is honing her craft these days at Maguire’s Auto Repair in Williston and she’ll be the first to tell you how much she loves her job.

Originally from Philadelphia, Pa., Nolan followed her parents here about a year ago.

“My mom had been bugging my dad for about 11 years to leave the North,” she said, “and finally he acquiesced.”

A family of horse lovers, this area seemed to be the perfect location to pursue their passion.

With assorted jobs that included being a gymnastics coach and working at an adventure camp–where she did every extreme sport possible–it wasn’t until she enrolled at Universal Technical Institute that she knew she’d found her calling.

“Everything I’ve done in my life, I’ve fallen into,” she said. “My life is like an intense game of Tetris.”

Growing up, she was fascinated by life in her father’s shop, where he was a fabricator.

“I loved hanging out in Home Depot,” she said, “and playing with all the power tools.”

Upon enrollment at UTI, where she was one of four women, she devoted herself to her studies and focused on learning all she could about becoming an automobile technician.

Male students were curious about the raven-haired beauty and she had her share of date offers.

“But they saw I was not interested,” she said, “and that I was serious about school.

“I lead an unusual dual life,” she said. “I have   hot pink nails and Barbie hair, but at work, I’m always the first one to be disgustingly dirty.

“I enjoy discovering why things work and using problem solving skills,” she said of her trade.

Although petit, Nolan said when it comes to lifting heavy parts, she utilizes leverage and often finds new ways of doing things to compensate for any lack of strength.

“I have to be OK with saying ‘I can’t do this’,” she said about life on the job. And  so far, her co-workers are happy to teach and show her.

With her education at UTI, Nolan said she knows the fundamentals of her job, but there’s nothing like hands-on experience in the learning process.

There are still many though, she said, who don’t want her working on their vehicles because she is a woman.

“But what they don’t understand,” Nolan said  in her defense, “is women are better scientifically at this type work. Women know the processes involved and tend to pay more attention to detail.”

Nolan is particularly appreciative of Maguire, who opened the door for her to walk in and continue the practical application of her education.

“Not only did he give me the opportunity, it’s like having three Encyclopedia Britanicas walking around,” she said of her co-workers. “It’s like having three uncles. It’s a family.”

At home, after a day of oil changes, tire rotations and brake jobs, Nolan cleanses away the day’s grime with a hot shower.

“And then I actually look like a girl,” she laughed.

There’s nothing better than hanging out with her family, she said, unless its curling up with a good book.

“I read a ridiculous amount,” she said, adding her parents’ love of books inspired her to be a voracious reader.

“I attribute everything I am to my parents,” she said.

Before you can blink, the girly girl is gone and in her place is the professional auto repairwoman who has to return to a job. 

The last things you see before she turns the corner are the infectious bright smile, and of course, the hot pink nails as she waves goodbye.