Friday, May 15, 2009

My Car and My Moral Dilemma

Sorry this is a long one.  Feel free not to read it, but I thought it would help to write it all out.

Okay, life hasn't exactly been a basket full of roses lately, so I chose not to blog about it, attempting not to be a Negative Nancy (
sorry Mom and Dad, you still got it all!).  But I can now laugh about the car, so I will share this portion of my story.

Thursday, April 23rd, my check engine light goes on.  Not good.

Friday, April 24th, as I am driving to school, the check engine light starts flashing at me.  Really not good.  So, I leave school early (this is probably my punishment for doing it!), and head to Auto Zone to have it looked at.  Well, I don't quite make it.  As I am heading up a hill, my car just dies.  So, there I am trying to turn into a parking lot, but when I take my foot off the brake, it rolls backwards.  Undesirable.  (Please note that this is the first day in months that I have chosen to wear a dress to work.)  So, I open my door, hike up my dress, get one foot one the ground and keep one on the brake, with one hand on the steering wheel and the other on the door frame... and I push.  I keep it from rolling backwards, but no forward progress is being made.  I continue to push.  I finally get it rolling when a man jumps out of his car and begins to help me get it pushed into the parking lot.  (Now I will tell you that I was in the neighborhood near my school and I really didn't expect anyone to help.  So I was thrilled at his kindness.)  I make the calls, get told of a great repair shop just a few businesses down, get the car towed, get a friend to pick me up and take me to get a rental and on goes my busy weekend.  

In an attempt to shorten the story, two weeks pass and I don't have my car (he's having trouble getting the right parts for my car), I drop off the second rental at the airport and head home for Grandpa's memorial services.  I come back and my car should be ready on Wednesday.  Great.  I go to the shop and sit and wait.  (Yes, this is the fourth time, I have wasted my afternoon waiting for this man to "finish up" my car.  Only to have to call a friend to come pick me up and take me home.)  Clearly, he can't get the last part he needs but he will have it overnighted and I will have my car on Thursday, for sure.

Thursday, it's a nice day out, so I walk to the shop.  As I get close, I can see my car in the bay with the hood up.  I know it can't be good.  So, I go inside and he says, "I had her out driving earlier today and when I got back we decided to top off the fluids and I think we've flooded the engine.  Just give us a few minutes to get it cleaned out and we will have you on your way."  So, I sit for another 1/2 hour before he comes in and says, "Is this the only key you have?"  (Seriously?)  "I have a valet key at home but that's the one I use."  "Well, I think your anti-theft system has locked up your car" (I had it at the dealership for that a few months ago, and got that fixed.  That shouldn't be the problem).   After arguing, we decide that another of his mechanics will drive me to my house to get the other key so I can drive my car home today.  (Keep in mind, it's now been 3 weeks, and I 
am desperate!)  So, off I go with this mechanic (whose shirt is unbuttoned past his bare chest) in the most disgusting vehicle I have ever been in.  There was spilled soda on the middle console with pet hair and dust stuck in it.  I am sitting on more crumbs than cushion and my feet are on top of McDonald's and Mrs. Winner's bags.  We get about two miles from my house and he says, "How much farther to your house?"  I say, "About two miles."  And he says, "Well, we are not going to make it."  Pulls the car over, and it dies.  Fantastic.  I am stuck in this car with this smelly mechanic boy who is complaining about his bad day.  I call the head mechanic and wait on the side of the road for a tow truck to come rescue us.  I call a friend with a key to my house and ask her to get my spare car key and take it to the mechanic for me.  (Thank heavens I have had wonderful friends through all this!)  So, the tow truck man hooks the car up and off we go; me sitting in the middle next to the largest tow truck man alive, and the smelly little mechanic.  At one point the tow truck driver says, "Ma'am, I am going to have to shift into sixth(?) gear."  Which required me to cross my legs and pretty much sit sideways on the seat, trying desperately hard not to fly into either of them as he drove like a maniac.  

So, we make it back to the shop, just as my friend arrives with the key.  I say, "Okay, can I try to start my car now?"  And he says, "Oh, it's not ready for that yet."  WHAT!  Why did I go through all of this if I can't even try to start my car?  So, I have reached my limit with this incompetent mechanic (I have really been trying hard to be nice and patient with him and everyone that comes in has been using him for years and loves him) and ask the tow truck driver what he is doing.  While he gets my car hooked up to take it to the dealer, (and one of the little mechanics is putting spare parts in my backseat) the mechanic has the nerve to speak to me and say, "This is just not my day.  That was my car that you were in.  Now I am going to have to sit and wait for my wife to come pick me up.  Was he hot-rodding in my car while he was taking you home?"  (What did he really want or expect me to say to all this?  I chose not to respond.)  

So, here is my moral dilemma.  What do I owe this mechanic?  Anything?  I feel as though my $500+ in car rental bills is enough for me to pay, without having to pay him anything.  Should I pay him for parts?  (His original bill was $1500.)  Can I send him the monstrous bill I am sure to accumulate while my car is at the dealer?  (And, yes, the dealership looked at my car for a minute, called for the mechanics name and number and said they won't have time to work on it until Monday.)  Seriously, I am waiting for someone to jump out and say that I am on Candid Camera or Punk'd or that Howie show.  

(I couldn't remember what my car even looked like.  This is the only picture I have of it, thanks to a friend playing with their new camera.  I miss it!)


  1. Oh my goodness! I hate to say I was laughing most of the way through, just because it is hard to believe all that could happen to one person (and you are very talented at conveying the facts humorously) and then I get to the end with the mechanic teed off because his car is now out of order, and I am angry to think he has the nerve to complain after what he has put you through. It is amazing there are people in the world like this guy. I really don't think you owe him a thing. He did not fix your car, it seems he just dismantled it and made it worse. Since he doesn't have your car to hold until you pay him, I think I would just not pay him and see what he does. If he decides to sue you, then maybe you can settle something with him. This is why I always take my car to a dealer. I don't trust anyone else to know what they are doing.

  2. I agree with cynthia, see if he bills you. Technically he never fixed the problem as it went to another mechanic before you saw it.

  3. OH MY GOSH...I have been wondering about your car. I'm glad you are able to laugh a bit. Some times all we can do is laugh and amen to the good friends you have, tell them all I love them!! I just wish we could get them to come here for a visit. See you kn a few days!

  4. Oh, Sarah! I feel so bad for you. I agree with Cynthia and Jessica, wait to see if he has the nerve to bill you.

    I have now been without a washing machine for two weeks as I am also "waiting for parts". In addition to that my car is making a rattling noise that makes me nervous, but I keep hoping that I can make it just another three weeks until school is out and then I will have time to take it into the dealership.

  5. I wouldn't pay that fool one red cent. And, if he has the nerve to bill you, tell him to go jump in a lake. Let him tell you he will sue you, then tell him you will counter sue for the cost of the rental car and lost hours at work. Suggest it will be a wash to back him off and then tell EVERYONE you speak to ever, what a racket he has going.

  6. Oh Sarah, as if you didn't have enough on your mind! Who needs this. I hope it soon get fixed. I am very jealous of your family all going to N.Y. What a fabulous trip. Maybe you can find a way to forget all your troubles and just enjoy the trip. When you get home maybe they will all be taken care of...Love ya

  7. I am so sorry! You told me part of the story, but I didn't ever hear the ending. I hope all goes well. I don't think you should pay the mechanic, but I am not a lawyer. Good luck. Love ya!