An article from Utah brought back memories. A man left Wells, Nevada one step ahead of the law and moved his scam to a new state. His scam was, seemed like everybody who stopped at his service station needed new tires.
I might have been one of his victims. Or not. I’ll never know if I really needed the tires I bought in Wells. I needed tires soon… but right then? I wasn’t a bit surprised when I learned there had been complaints.
Back home, I trust my mechanic and vice versa. They know I’ll be back if I’m happy. We skip some of the formality. I don’t usually have a written estimate. They’ll call me to approve anything expensive. (Anything I consider expensive.) They don’t waste my time with small stuff. They don’t take my car out for a joyride.
My car has a feature most people don’t know about. I can ask the navigation system to show me the last 50 miles of travel, and the dash for the maximum lateral g force. Shows me where the dealer’s mechanic took the car for some fun. Shows me where the guy who replaced my starter in California took it up into the mountains and… wait, that was me.
Somewhere in New Mexico I turned the key and heard a “click” that brought back childhood memories of less reliable cars. My memory told me “bad starter solenoid.” I made sure to park facing downhill until I got to California. I dreaded the thought of going to a dealer. Luckily my brother knew a guy who shared my taste in cars, and he knew a guy not two miles away who specialized in my make. A guy with a little garage in back, not a big sign by the highway.
He gave me a written estimate without my asking. Not sure if it’s because he didn’t know me or because it’s the California custom. In my experience in Massachusetts only dealers give them regularly. Turned out my car had a bad starter, not a bad solenoid, but either way it’s just a part replacement.
I got the car back, checked out the driving history, and saw the trail of dots leading up into the mountains. I was about to get mad when I realized I was looking at my trip into town, reading it backwards. Fortunately I have a rule: I stop to think, marshal my evidence, and then start hurling accusations. It saves embarrassment.
Saves embarrassment and builds trust. I don’t want to get a reputation for making stuff up. I don’t want to get a reputation for making mistakes. I don’t want to falsely accuse an honest mechanic.
Now when I cross Nevada I skip the businesses in Wells and the speed trap on the business loop. I head up to Angel Lake or Lamoille Canyon instead. Three months out of the year they are beautiful oases above the desert.
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