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Wednesday, January 10, 2007


My motion detector went off and I looked up to see a 1997 Chevy Cavalier sputter into my shop. I peeled off my surgical gloves (mechanic style) and went to greet the driver. An extremely agitated young woman in her mid twenties exited the driver’s door, and slammed it shut. It was nearly nine o’clock in the morning, and her attire appeared to have been donned with an office work environment in mind: dress, high heels, nice coat.

“Hi, may I help you?” I asked in my best grandfatherly manner.

“Are you honest?” The young woman asked abruptly, staring intently at me, her right hand coming to rest on her hip.

Uh oh.

“I’m better at answering questions concerning your car, Ma’am. It really doesn’t matter if I’m honest or not, because you won’t know by me telling you I am anyway,” I explained without the slightest iota of the sarcasm welling up inside me, filtering into my voice.

“What’s that supposed to mean?” She asked defensively, her left hand finding its way to her other hip.

“It means I can’t prove I’m honest by saying so, and I’d be more likely to say I was honest if in reality I’m a dishonest crook. Now, why don’t you tell me what kind of problem you’re having, and I’ll…”

“My problem is you mechanics wanting to rip me off because I’m a woman,” she interrupted forcefully.

Oh boy, five minutes have passed, and I haven’t even made it to the problem.

“I’ll overlook for the moment your lumping me in with a multitude of real or imagined dishonest mechanics and simply say I don’t discriminate here. If I wanted to rip you off, it wouldn’t matter what DNA strands you’re carrying around, cause I could intelligently rip off any male customer just as expertly.”

The amusement hit her eyes first, and then made her mouth quiver. She laughed. I had her then. Once I know they can laugh, they’re mine. I won’t have to throw her out.

“Now, how may I rip you off today?”

More laughter.

I didn’t rip her off. I fixed her car. We ‘mechanics’ are looked on in about the same way people look at used car salesmen or lawyers. I imagine from the customer’s perspective, it may be deserved. Most of the time, I’ve understood the concept I will always be looked at askance until the job gets done, and matches the explanation of why I did what I did. It’s a lot like my novel writing. :)

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