During a time I was between jobs and at the time I was fixing Darryl's motorcycle, he gave me some of
the biggest help I've ever received without giving me a dollar (a dime) (a red cent).
In 1997, we had enough stashed away to buy my wife a new car. I tried to talk her out of it, but she's Korean,
and, for her, a new car was everything. She HAD to have it and I can understand that now. (I drive a 1984 Diesel
Volkswagon Rabbit that gets 48-53 mpg combined city/highway; thank me some day) (But I've also needed and driven a 1973 Chevelle
with a tricked small-block 400 with a 4.11 rear-end that got 6 miles per gallon, so you could have cursed me, too). She
ended up with a Red 1996 Volkswagon Cabrio; a real Barbie car. My younger daughter couldn't keep her hands off that car; she
HAD to impress everyone by being seen in it. It IS a nice car, It's very well designed and engineered. But, c'mon...
How can one wish huge hardship on our descendants by driving the biggest, most powerful truck on the planet.
I'm 51 years old. I remember the gas shortage in the mid '70's. Well, Popular Science and Popular Mechanics and all those
kinds of magazines were predicting a lot of things. They forecast the emission controls and the new safety requirements, etc.
What's puzzling is that they forecast a serious down-sizing of cars. I think the government even had a schedule that
car makers had to meet. So, explain what's happening today!?
But I rant...Back to the story.
At about 100,000 miles, the driver's side wheel bearing started making noise. I purchased two wheel bearings
at a local parts store. I then called a repair shop that had treated me wonderfully in the past, owned by Pete. I got a guy
named Chris (co-incidence?) who informed me that Pete had suffered a heart attack and that Chris now owned the place. Well,
I had no choice but to set up an appointment to get my wife's car fixed. This was while I was still working a few hours as
a Citizen's Bank Phone Rep, I believe; before I got back in touch with Darryl. So I made an appointment to get the wheel bearing
fixed. My wife told me not to let them "screw up" her car. I watched as much as they let me. One of the most evil policies
the government and the system have put in place has to be the policy of not letting you watch a stranger work on your car!
Chris was running around trying to get the business set up to make even more money. I even gave him a few helpful ideas. He
kind of mentally resisted the honest, well-meaning things I said and did. His other mechanic impressed me as a jerk. He wouldn't
say anything when I said things to him. They got done with the wheel bearing, and I drove off, to make it shorter.
I almost immediately noticed that, while going straight, the steering wheel was off to the right about 30
to 45 degrees. I drove back and told them this. Chris explained that they hadn't done anything that could have
caused that to happen and I got nowhere with them. I drove back home and noticed that there was still a wheel bearing noise,
only this time, instead of sounding like the whole wheel bearing was hurting, it varied in time with how fast the wheel was
turning. The wheel bearing is a very delicate thing and one can NEVER hit it with anything. Also, it must be pressed into
the hub. I know I heard the other mechanic pounding on something while I was unable to observe.
The next few weeks were very depressing. The car was worse instead of shiny-happy and even I (read my Rabbit
story if you haven't yet) didn't know what to do about it.
As we were doing Darryl's motorcycle and helping each other and getting caught up, I told all this to Darryl.
Darryl immediately went and got a card with Pete's name and contact info on it. YAY! I called Pete and first expressed sorrow
about his heart attack and hoped he was all right and said it. He said he was. We got around to setting up an appointment
after I explained what had happened. I still had a wheel bearing left that was to have been for the passenger's side.
In between everything else that was happening, I got the Cabrio out to Pete's house. Pete's house
is WAY out there! Hard to find for me. I got there and looked around the place. Lovely! He had kept his house in order!
He drove the car and we listened to it. We were both unable to tell for sure whether the noise was on the
driver's side or passenger's side. He even drove it again with me. Jacked it up and took both sides apart and removed
enough stuff so we could actually see and touch the wheel bearings. After a long and agonizing 15 minutes or so
of trying to figure out which side to change, he listened to my final decision that I thought we should change the
driver's side because that wheel bearing moved in a direction that the passenger side wheel bearing didn't.
This was completely different! Just the opposite. We worked on it together! I did things that were
physically difficult for him; the monkey work, if you will.. I moved the jackstands around and actually turned the hubshark
device that pressed the wheel bearing in. As we worked, we talked about our lives and our lifes' observations; deep stuff.
It was one of the best days of my life. Pete, who knows Chris better than I do, declared him to be a Bible-Thumping Baptist.
We got finished. The important thing to me, I told Pete, was that, whether or not the car was fixed, I would
now know MUCH more about the maintenance Chris and the guy had performed. We drove the car again. I think Pete was
as happy as I was when the car was stone quiet; no wheel bearing noise whatsoever! At some point Pete mentioned that he would
just as well not have me tell Chris that Pete had fixed the car. I agreed with no problem.
I went back to Chris' repair shop better armed. I explained to him that they had messed up the alignment.
The evidence was the tires (which Pete had put on the back of the car), which were worn in an out-of-alignment pattern. Chris
insisted that they hadn't done anything that would have affected the alignment. I explained to him what "my mechanic" had
explained to me: that it was impossible to perform the maintenance they had performed without affecting the alignment. Chris
said. "Yea, but we marked it!". As for the wheel bearing, I said I thought that they had probably broken that too. Chris denied
it and was in a position to, since he hadn't provided me with the wheel bearing. Had he been able to tack some money onto
the wheel bearing by providing me with it, he would have been screwed at this point. The finality was that if he were extremely
generous, he could only refund the price of the alignment and pointed to a sign on the wall above and behind him that read:
I said, "Please! Be [extremely] generous." He wrote me a check for $40.00 and left the line on the bottom
left side of the check blank. At some point he had asked me who my mechanic was. I told him I would rather not say.
When I got home, I wrote, "Refund for Negligence" on that bottom left line on the check. Pete had mentioned
that he would like to know the outcome of this thing. I called him later that day in an effort to tell him, but he didn't
answer. He called me back about 8 at night. Either I answered at EXACTLY the right time or God intervened! The answering machine
recorded the whole conversation. Chris had called Pete, probably right after I left and told Pete that I had told Chris that
Pete had worked on the car. I had not. In the recording on the answering machine, I called Chris "a f*cking liar"! As I kept
going off on Chris, Pete managed to interject enough to let me know that he knew Chris was "just fishing". He mentioned
that he had told Chris that he needed to do the job right or this kind of thing was just going to happen to him. Pete and
I hung up, knowing each other.
I drove to Chris' shop one last time in my Rabbit. I got out and walked over. Chris was talking to two men.
As I approached, all three stopped speaking. I immediately had the floor. I reached out, shook Chris' hand, and said, "Chris,
thank you for clearing up this little mis-understanding between you and me and Pete. We all understand each other perfectly
now." He mumbled something that I either didn't hear or can't remember. I walked part of the way back to my Rabbit, snapped
my finger, and turned around, and went back. Again nothing was being said between the three men. I said something like, "You
go to church, right, Chris?" He nodded and mumbled "yea" or "yes" or something. I said something like, "Do you know that they
have Bibles where everything Jesus said is in red? Makes it real easy to just kind of glance through it." He answered
in the affermative again.
Finally, I called Pete again and told him about my one last visit to Chris' shop.
I think this might be one of my greatest Works EVER.
Jesus: By their works you shall know them
Jesus: Turn the other cheek
Jesus: Verily I say unto you; easier will it be for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than
for a rich man to enter into heaven
I have witnesses! I played the answering machine tape for (at keast) my wife and my older daughter. My wife
and both daughters will attest to the fact that the steering wheel was way off after that first [lack of] repair Darryl
and Pete could be considered witnesses.
I can't remember if Jesus ever said to call out the liars, but I'm fairly sure he would not have had a problem
with how I handled it all...
I know! Dangerous Statement!
And lastly, Pete has now read this text on this site and absolutely loved it!