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Good News and Bad News

October 20, 2013

My dad was a professional mechanic who always kept our cars running like well-oiled clocks. Unfortunately, I didn’t inherit Dad’s mechanical ability, which skipped a generation to take root in CJ, our son. CJ is a remarkable mechanic who treats cars the way accomplished musicians treat their instruments. He can diagnose what’s wrong with an engine by listening to cars whizzing past on the highway. He does a great job of keeping our vehicles in proper running order, but he leads a busy life and isn’t always around.


For routine servicing we’d been bringing Mrs. Chatterbox’s BMW to the dealership where we purchased it nine years ago. Mrs. C. says the car belongs to both of us but it really belongs to her; I drive an old RAV 4 and love it.


Over the past few months we came to believe that the BMW dealership was strong-arming us and using scare tactics to beef up our bills. CJ finally convinced us it was time to part ways with the dealership and find a reliable repair shop. We settled on Autohaus Bayern, a German car specialist not far from where we live.


The other day the driver’s seatbelt in the BMW wouldn’t work. Mrs. Chatterbox is fastidious about following rules and wasn’t about to break the law by driving unbuckled. I tried to fix the seatbelt, and failed.


CJ examined the locking mechanism and told me and his mother, “There’s a dime lodged in the mechanism; I can see it but can’t reach it. You’ll need to take it to Autohaus to see if they can get it out.”


My mind flashed on the many times I’d driven the BMW and the frequency with which change had rained from my pockets onto the floor and between the seats. In fact, I’d borrowed the car and spilled a pocketful of coins the day prior to Mrs. Chatterbox noticing the problem. 


“Hopefully they won’t need to remove the seat to get at the problem,” CJ continued, “because that could be time consuming and cost you serious bucks.”


So Mrs. Chatterbox drove to Autohaus Bayern and explained the situation. She sat in the waiting area as one of the technicians drove our BMW into the garage to check out the problem. He returned ten minutes later and said to Mrs. C., “I have good news for you, and bad news. Which do you want first?”


Expecting to be told she owed several hundred dollars, she braced for the worst and said, “Give me the good news.”


He pushed back his cap and said, “I managed to fix your belt buckle…”


“How much do I owe y—”


Before she could finish, he cut her off. “I’m not going to charge you anything.”


“That’s marvelous,” she said. “What’s the bad news?”


The technician grinned at her sheepishly. “I lost your dime.”


I doubt we’ll ever take our car anywhere else.



What an uplifting story to start my day!!
By: fishducky on October 20, 2013
If you find a good mechanic or a good dentist. Never stray!!
By: Cranky on October 20, 2013
What Cranky says. So I guess you've found your good mechanic. Do you have a dentist story?
By: tom sightings on October 20, 2013
That's great.
By: Snowbrush on October 20, 2013
i loved this! good guy!
By: TexWisGirl on October 20, 2013
Delightful!! I'd use them too.
By: Jenny Woolf on October 20, 2013
That's wonderful. Love, Janie
By: Janie Junebug on October 20, 2013
This mechanic deserves a Christmas card!
By: Pixel Peeper on October 20, 2013
More businesses should adopt that mantra. So nice to hear something GOOD for a change.
By: Daniel LaFrance on October 20, 2013
After just getting both of our vehicles repaired and to no improvement, I sure wish I could find one of those around here. That is such good news for you guys!
By: Bouncin Barb on October 20, 2013
Those kind of honest repair places, for cars or anything else, are hard to come by. Sounds like a keeper!
By: Scott Cody Park on October 20, 2013
Those are the kind of mechanics i always want to find (we have found some, and i'm glad).
By: mimi on October 20, 2013
My mom takes her car to a shop where the guys treat her like that. Every now and then, she drops in with a box of donuts. Just because.
By: Val on October 20, 2013
Don't let that garage get away. And never piss off your son.
By: Al Penwasser on October 20, 2013
Great story ending. I had no idea what the ad news might be.
By: red on October 20, 2013
There is nothing more difficult than finding an honest auto shop. I am glad you found one. You are also, lucky to have someone in the family that knows a lot about cars. Any time a mechanic says we need something, we just nod and say OK because neither of us knows one doohicky from a thing-a-majig.
By: Cheryl P. on October 20, 2013
This is priceless!!! Loved the ending! You have just found yourself an amazing car shop!
By: Carrie on October 20, 2013
I didn't expect that at all - I thought he'd say he broke the seat or something even worse. It's awful how many mechanics deliberately break things in cars to make the owner pay for "fixing" them. At least that isn't you ... at the moment anyway.
By: Lexa Cain on October 20, 2013
Those guys are pure gold- worth their weight in it, for sure.
By: Shelly on October 20, 2013
Nice story Stephen - just shows there is a lot of good in the world.
By: Bryan Jones on October 21, 2013
This helps to re-establish one's faith in humanity, great story!
By: John on October 22, 2013
Haha , now that was quite an end . Lovely narration ! Thank you for the generous comment on my blog , it encouraged me to keep writing . Gonna follow your blog regularly now onwards :)
By: Shonazee on October 24, 2013
Those kinds of business ethics are priceless.
By: Hilary on October 24, 2013

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