Well. I have my car back.
It only took three days, when I was promised one. And it only cost me $300, which isn’t a sarcastic statement.
What it did do, though, was reveal how powerful a force a friend can be.
On Monday, my mechanic was too far for the tow (because yikes! expensive!) and wasn’t available until Tuesday to do the work. Without more than a description (with sound effects!) of the problem, he couldn’t direct me to do much but have it brought to his shop so he could look at it.
But, yikes! expensive! to tow the distance to his shop. So, I’m left with few options.
Tow the vehicle to a local big-box shop like Midas, and yikes! expensive! for that. And who knows what they’d “find” wrong that “had to be done first” from them. (I used to think highly of my local Midas shop, and I had a sort-of-kind-of relationship with the owner; then he sold, and now…not so much.) But, I could probably have the insurance company pay for the t0w.
Then I had another idea. I have a friend who buys cars at auction, has them fixed, and sells them again. I assume he makes a profit. So he has someone he relies on to do the car work for him, and maybe more than one. So I gave him a call.
He not only found me a person who would do the work, he found a tow truck driver who did the tow pretty cheap. (I’ll have to submit the bill to the insurance company to be reimbursed.) W00t! Cheap!
The tow went off without a hitch. The repair work? Well.
Day one, my buddy wants to try a couple of things. He believes the whole problem is cold, and if we can just warm the car up enough it will start. So he runs down to the local big-box hardware store (not the Borg though) and comes back with $21 dollars worth of stuff, including two extension cords (because they were buy one get one free) and a tiny space heater we’re going to put under the car for an hour.
So I’m the proud owner of a new mini space heater, even though I don’t want or need one. I forgive him this because he’s trying to help me, but this is typical of him. It comes with the territory, and I know now I have to make it clear to him I’m not going to pay for anything he needs to buy to try his ideas. All I wanted, all I asked, was a mechanic’s name and number so I could have the car taken to him.
Instead, my friend never gave me that information. He operated as a go-between, taking and making calls to the mechanic on my behalf. The guy, even as late as 1 p.m. when my friend’s ideas didn’t pan out, told us he would work on and complete the job same day.
So the car is brought to him around 2:30 p.m. due to waiting for the tow and whatever. The guy tells my friend he’s still going to finish that day.
Around six that evening, I start hearing “can’t find the problem” and “no codes from the computer” and other such nonsense. No dice; can’t get it back that day. The Customer Service Manager from work – also a good friend – offers me a ride in the morning. I accept, and basically go back to my buddy and tell him I need the car Tuesday. He says he understands and communicated that to the mechanic, who said, in broken English, “No problem! For sure tomorrow!”
I got a ride to and from work with my friend, and then I call my buddy. I asked my wife to contact him while I was at work, and she did, but only got vague answers and didn’t follow up. So I’m left to try doing this at almost 6:30 p.m. when it’s probably too late. I was less than happy with everything at that point.
And a few phone calls later reveals I had reason to be wary, because “No problem! For sure tomorrow!” became “Well, Napa was late delivering the part to me” and that devolved into “I had to leave because my son got sick and had to go to the hospital” and that, of course, meant no car on Tuesday night.
I’m hopping mad. With my voice shaking in rage, I call my buddy and have to really restrain from blasting him. He apologizes, says he’ll take me to work the next day and pick me up too. Okay, nothing else he can do. So I accept, pay him a bit for gas because he’s going above and beyond, and after all, it’s not him doing the work.
(I also didn’t give him very much money for gas, because…space heater and cords, yo.)
So Wednesday night I try to avoid blurting out “What’s going on with my car?” until we’re on the road. I sort of expected him to offer that up, frankly. Instead he makes another phone call because he hasn’t heard from the guy in a while. He’s told (and I could hear it because the cell phone was turned way up) “Oh yeah, gonna be done tonight, just need another 30 minutes.” I know this because my friend keeps verifying the information.
That was about 5:20 p.m. The guy says he’ll call when it’s ready in about half an hour.
We get home so I can change out of my work clothes and drop off my computer and lunchbox. And we wait for the phone call from the mechanic.
That never comes.
Not at 5:30. Not at 6:00. Not at 6:30, when I finally have to feed my friend because he’s sitting in my house waiting for this jackass to call him. He calls the guy and you know what he hears?
The voice mail.
The avoidance tactic begins.
So he calls the guy again at 7 p.m. and gets voice mail again.
He’s about to call back when, at 8 p.m. that night, the mechanic calls and has the gall, the audacity, to say, “Are you coming?!”
Needless to say, when we got to the shop, I wasn’t happy. Not even a little happy. I mean, I was happy to have my car, but I didn’t want to have to be polite to this liar and swindler, who only takes cash. Not credit cards, and not checks. I ask my buddy if he’s a drug dealer. Why else wouldn’t he run a business legitimately? All businesses will take either a check or plastic.
My friend says, “Why don’t I go get the car for you?” because he knows I won’t be nice. So I end up having to go in anyway, but I don’t have $300 in cash laying around because this unprofessional rinky-dink operation didn’t give me the price. And my friend had to pay for the part himself.
So, my buddy, being the guy he is, paid the bill for me. I have to reimburse him.
But I’m making him wait until my bonus check comes in as a penalty for recommending me to a half-assed joker who apparently doesn’t understand when he promises something he needs to deliver on it, and for charging me for a space heater and cords I don’t want, and the goop he poured into my gas tank I didn’t need.
Still, in all, I have my car back. I do. And I have a friend I know is a true friend, and yes, he’s sorry he recommended this guy. In fact he told me he’s not going to do that again, but will continue to use the guy for his own work. He feels his reputation has been besmirched by the irresponsible and unreliable way this guy did his thing. I told him not to worry, I couldn’t have thought any less of him in the first place. (A joke.)
Because of two solid friendships, I made it through this challenge. All brought out by a nasty, deep cold snap.
And there’s another one on the way Sunday and Monday.
If you’re the praying type, I could use some o’ that now.