Tuesday, March 16, 2004


Honesty pays, but it doesn't seem to pay enough to suit some people.. --F. M. Hubbard

I'm in search of an honest man....or rather an honest auto mechanic.

Part of the Main family financial reorganization plan is likely to involve selling Amy's van.

Our goal is simply to rid ourselves of the car payment, not to actually make money. The flaw in the scheme is that the van has a rather obvious mechanical problem: whenever you drive it up hill it shudders like a crack addict who is 18 hours into the realization that his cash, credit and connections have all disappeared. It also makes a grinding noise reminiscent of a bad burrito interlude.

For many months Amy and I have opted to address this problem in a manner that makes complete sense to us....we've turned up the volume on the radio.

Unfortunately, that tactic probably will be a bit transparent to prospective car buyers so I took the van to the shop.

Amy and I have used the same mechanic for a number of years. He likes us very much. He should, I suspect we've financed two or three of his children's college educations. Truthfully, it's been a one sided, less than fulfilling relationship with him getting our money, and us getting quasi-competent but always costly auto repairs. I've never questioned his honesty, but I will admit it has crossed my mind as he's totaled our bills that he seems far more adept at math than mechanics.

This time, I decided to take the van to a different auto repair outfit, one used by our friend, and Pastor. Amy actually wanted me to bring our Pastor with me, or at least cleverly drop his name into the initial conversation.

"This van belongs to my wife, who by the way has been quite ill recently, and it has a rather noticeable mechanical problem. I've discussed it with my very close friend and Pastor, and we've prayed about it together and I felt led by the Lord to bring this heartfelt burden to you. I think you may actually know my Pastor by the way..."

Perhaps I'm overly optimistic, but I decided against that approach. I like to think honesty is a trait that, once instilled, is applied universally, not exclusively to known members of the clergy and their devotees.

In this case, that appears to be true. After some trial and error - why is it whenever you go to a doctor or a car mechanic the ailment/disorder you're dealing with suddenly stops? - the mechanic was able to give me a rough idea of the likely problem. The bad news is that it's not something he can repair and will require a trip to what I believe is universally considered the dark underbelly of car repair - the ultimate satanic sanctuary for evil mechanics: the transmission shop.

I've had a number of cars in my life. Several have had transmission problems. Without exception, I've never been to a transmission shop where the conversation didn't end with the same words, "That'll cost you 18 hundred dollars".

My new mechanic offered the name of someone he said he trusts, so I'm hopeful this newly found chain of honesty might continue.

I did my part. I called the transmission guy and admitted that my goal was to make the needed repairs so I could sell the vehicle in good conscience. I also told him outright that I didn't want to hear the words, "That'll be 18 hundred bucks."

Whether it works or not remains to be seen. For now though, I'm going to remain optimistic.

The transmission guy seemed nice on the phone....but then again I suppose Satan probably does too.