Life has caught up with me, as it often does. It has made me less thoughtful than normal, which is not often the case. I've been completely immersed in thinking about my car, what needs to get fixed on my car, whether I should get a new car or not. Whether I can afford either repairs or a new(ish) car. What would be more cost-effective, especially since I'm making less money now, but I also need my car less.

As such, my mind has been less creative/thoughtful than usual. I've had very little urge to write anything other than rants or ideas or excitement about cars. Even my personal journal is filled with car talk lately.

So, of course, I've been thinking about mechanics. I never think about mechanics when I'm not concerned about my car, but lately I've been thinking about mechanics a lot.

My car had a tire that needed to be replaced, with a tiny bit of a rattle behind the tire. I took it to a place right around the corner from where I work, thinking that since it was a place that specialized in tires, it would be quick and easy. But as soon as I walked into the place, I felt that kind of shadiness that meant that I would be overcharged. Every mechanic there turned and evaluated me, almost as one, quite obviously coming to the conclusion that I probably didn't know much about cars, and should therefore be fleeced. Since I was just getting a tire changed, I decided to ignore my instincts.

A $1400 estimate later, I wished I'd gone somewhere else. The mechanic I actually talked to on the phone was obviously trying to scare me into getting this work done, and I wasn't having it. I actually got kind of testy and snapped, "Just change the tire!"

This morning, I took the car to my mechanic, whom I trust. When I gave him the other place's estimate, his look of surprise was almost comical.

So now my car is in good hands, and soon I'll know how to proceed, car-wise.

But what I've been thinking is that a lot of us really need mechanics, and mechanics are in an interesting position, in that they're uniquely able to screw us over horribly if they feel like it. I myself have experienced so many things that make me distrust new mechanics - my car would be worse after everything was "fixed," and would immediately break down in a new and interesting way. Or a mechanic would give me low parts prices, saying that he could definitely get this stuff used or refurbished, only to not be able to find ANYTHING that would fit my very common car. Or, if I didn't want to do the repairs right away (or if I wanted to get parts myself), I'd be told how dangerous it is to drive my car in such-and-such a condition, dangers that sometimes had nothing to do with what was actually wrong with my car.

Mechanics are so lawless, in a way. They can tell you anything, and if you believe them, you pay, and if you don't, no skin off of their noses. It's so rare to find a mechanic you can trust - I hear that from everyone I know. Other than the Better Business Bureau, who would you complain to? There's no regulation.

I'm trying to think of other fields and services in which the practitioners have such a wide range of ways to screw over their customers. I'm drawing a blank.

I'm going to stick with my current mechanic for as long as possible. In fact, though I find one guy who works there pretty attractive, I would never, ever do anything to jeopardize my customer/mechanic relationship, because a good mechanic is more important than a fling or a hot boyfriend.

Anyway, this is what I've been thinking about lately.



A Fuss said…
I am so in the same boat -- my car is 8 years old and really not at its healthiest. But my mom says she loves this place over on Main St, near her house. I think it's called Schmidts. They apparently are super cheap and super helpful/good.
Literary Auntie said…
I love places like that.

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