26 April, 2015

Warning to Mechanics

A lot of mechanics do "side work".  I am not among them.  When I leave the shop, the mechanic stays behind and I become my own man.  I don't fix my lawn mower until it ceases to cut grass.  Unless, of course, a person is part of my bloodline or a damned good friend.  Exceptions?  Sure.  But be aware.  There is a particular young lady who happens to be the daughter of a former coworker.  That former coworker being an in-law to my employer.  Now before you begin thinking I'm a dirty old man, I must say that I am a, somewhat, chivalric kind of man.  If the situation is dire enough I will help anyone whether I am rewarded or not.  I have my parents to thank for that. Every now and again, someone takes advantage of me.

This particular young lady found herself in a tough spot last summer.  Her car had a starting issue and her boyfriend, though skilled, was in a different state and unable to lend assistance.  The young lady was headed to Florida to lend assistance to the shop owner while leading a group of scouts on a scuba expedition.  Her car was at the shop, having been started by her boyfriend in Iowa and would not restart.  She sent me an email requesting my assistance.  I knew that her Father commuted to another city (as a shop manager for Goodyear) and would likely be unavailable.  So, I said "Leave the key where I can get to it and I will take care of the problem.  Enjoy your trip."  I didn't bother to mention that her problem occurred the weekend I started vacation.  If that had been an issue, I would not have taken on the job.

I found myself at the shop, only one day into my "vacation", diagnosing a Sunfire that wouldn't start.  I quickly found a shit starter.  I called the parts house for a price, "Your cost is $135", decided "Ahhh, she's good for it", picked up the starter, installed it and... Success!  I sent her a short video clip of her car starting and mentioned "Easy fix, starter was shit."  The young lady expressed her gratitude for having helped her out of a sticky situation and then asked what the bill came to.  "$135 for the starter.  No charge for labor."  On return from her trip she had found that I fixed her car while on vacation.  A lot of gushing praise followed and I was like "Yeah, yeah.  Golden Rule and such.  Just reimburse me for the starter when  you can."  The young lady had just moved to Iowa with her boyfriend and wasn't exactly rolling in the Benjamins.  I wasn't expecting immediate reimbursement.

Despite my kindness and generosity, and despite her being the kind of woman whom, if I were her age, I would be on a major campaign to win her affection, she took advantage of me.  Again, before declaring me a "dirty old man" I must state that I only wanted to receive compensation for the starter.  $135.  I willing accepted the job, in a gesture of kindness, and never expected anything in return besides what I put into it in parts.

I received a lot of praise and "Thank you so much!!!" stuff.  I blushed.  But here I am, almost a year after and I have, despite many promises from her, to receive the money I put into the purchase of her starter.  I'm quite pissed.  I have had to remind her twice and still haven't received compensation.  Is it a big deal?  Financially, no.  I can eat $135 and, as we've seen, she won't dole out $135 to the person whom it is owed.  What she doesn't realize is that, by her delinquency in payment, she has lost the services of a skilled mechanic.  I will never help her again.  Any future requests of "My car has a flat" or "My car won't start" will be met with silence.  She will have to request the services of someone who does not know her and who will expect payment upon completion of work or she won't get her car back.  It will be a hard lesson for her to learn, but a much needed lesson as it has turned out.

My lesson for you new mechanics out there is this.  Unless  you demand payment from the start, have your "friend" purchase the parts outright or are willing to take possession of the vehicle (you old hands know how to take care of that part), you are donating your services and money.  Do not expect reimbursement.  You have to learn to look past the nice legs, big tits and kind words and see the "customer" for who they really are.

Be careful.  You had to pay for your education, your tools and your experience.  You shouldn't let a "friend" take advantage of you.  

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