I believe you should hang onto a decent mechanic for the same reason you should hang
onto a decent husband: It's too much work to break in a new one.
We've been going to Don for about eight years now, and I must say his diagnostic
skills are progressing nicely.
For instance, I go in with a brake problem and describe the sound to him.
"It makes a chk-chk-chk-chk-chk when you press the brake pedal," I say.
"No, wait, it's really more of a ka-ka-ka-ka sound; a cross between a
machine gun and fire crackers."
I pause, allowing time for Don to repeat the sound, but he just looks at me. He
has always been reluctant to repeat the sounds, but I sense we are close to a
breakthrough any day now. The fact that Ed and Phil are standing behind him
laughing their heads off is not terribly helpful.
"Oh yes, and it sounds like the tires are wearing cleats."
Don gives a deadpan look at Ed and Phil, who are now doubled over
behind the cash register. They're nice guys, but I hope Don's not
expecting me to work with them, too.
"And when you turn hard to the right, it makes a sound like a new string on a violin."
"Or a guitar."
"All righty, Mizz B," he says.
That's another thing -- he calls the women Mizz, not Ms., but Mizz with
a touch of Georgia. It's a honey of an accent that makes me think I may
have a pair of white kid gloves in the purse with the snap klatch
hanging at the side of my freshly pressed shirtwaist dress, even though
I am schlepping about in jeans and a T-shirt, carrying a credit card in
"Did I mention there's also a high pitched eeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee?" I say this holding
one continuous tone because I know how different tones can indicate different
trouble spots under the hood.
"It's not a Celine Dion eeeeeeeee, but a Pavarotti eeeeeeeeeee. Hear the
"I think I've got it," Don says, biting his bottom lip. He's a little shy, but he's
coming along nicely.
He says he'll put the car on the computer. This is what all the mechanics say these
days. If it weren't that they still have grease on their hands you'd think all they
do is sit around hitting "enter" on a keyboard all day.
Another reason that I am loyal to Don's shop is that he keeps a Diagnostic Magic
Eight Ball on the counter.
That is a big convenience for the customer because if the mechanic is on the phone,
you can ask your automotive questions of the Eight Ball and pretty much get the same
answers you would from the mechanic.
"Is this repair going to cost an arm and a leg?"
"Need new car," says the Eight Ball.
"Do you think the car might make it to 200,000 miles?"
"Need new car."
"Will it be ready by 5 tonight?"
"Need new car."
The Eight Ball is supposed to have dozens of different answers, but I get the same
one each time. The Eight Ball is amazingly accurate. They must hook it up to the
computer each night.
Don takes a few notes, and says, "Mizz B, I'll call you when I know something. For
now, why don't you chug-chug-chug on home?"
He's catching on faster than I thought.