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Friday, May 11, 2007

Can You Help Me?

“Hey man, can you help me out?” A deep voice called out from my big doorway.

“Just a second,” I call out, dragging my less than limber frame out from under the dash of an old 1978 Chevy.

I manage to make a precision six inch, scalpel like cut in my left forearm, as I inadvertently scrape it on a sharp burr on the parking brake release bracket. I hum a couple of sentences internally, made up of words I learned during a three year stint aboard the USS Ranger Aircraft Carrier long ago in a galaxy far, far away. :) So, I’m in a happy mood as I clamp a rag over my welling wound, and try to at least pretend some interest. The man does not have a car or truck with him, so I paste an attentive look on my face, and walk over to him.

“Yes Sir, what can I help you with?”

“Are you busy?” He asks.

Oh no, I’m thinking, I was taking a nap under the dash of yonder Chevy, and the 1989 Ford Truck up in the air with the trans laying on the floor, waiting for a clutch, is a new hobby I’ve taken up. I immediately put a clamp on my snappy answers to stupid questions internal dialogue, and adopt an even more concentrated look of interest.

“How can I help you, Sir?” I persist politely.

“Do you come out?”

He loses me on that one. Out of the closet? Out of my mind? WTF?

“Out of where?” I ask simply.

“Christ! Out of the shop,” the man takes offense to my ignorance. He should get together for a chat with my wife. She could give him a clue on just how ignorant I can get. :)

“Only when I leave for home,” I reply, giving him an internal countdown to ten for reaching the point of this meeting. Besides, I can tell I’m going to need a big Band-aid soon.

“I lost a pad on my Mitsubishi”. (He means disc brake pad; which does not get lost by itself) “How much to come over and throw some pads on. I bought them already.”

Oh… about when chipmunks are ice-skating in hell, with the Mormon Tabernacle Choir singing Christmas carols in the background.

“I don’t do house-calls, Sir, and I don’t give brake estimates until I check the vehicle out. Lastly, I don’t install other peoples’ parts.”

“You don’t do much of anything here, huh?”

“Let’s quit kidding around with each other,” I get serious; because you have to be an expert to get a rise out of me, and this guy wasn’t even a novice. “Disc pads don’t get lost. Somebody screwed up. If I’m going to take on something like that, I’d replace the calipers, pads, and possibly the rotors depending on whether I can resurface them or not. I would check the back brakes, master cylinder, and all the lines. If you’re interested in a job like I just explained, have the vehicle towed in and…”

“Why can’t you just help a man out?” He interrupts.

“Because it wouldn’t be any help to you at all if I further patched your brakes; and you went out and killed yourself, or some other innocent party, with your car. You’d be dead or maimed, and the lawyers would be in a hatchet fight to see who gets to divvy up everything I own.”

“I’ll take responsibility for my own damn self,” he retorts indignantly.

“No, you won’t, and definitely not here.”

“Fine, you just lost yourself some business, man,” he states, turning to the door.

A lawsuit, possibly. Business, I think not. :)

2 comments:

December Quinn said...

Oh man! This is amazing. I love the way they look at someone who clearly has more than enough to do and say "You just lost a customer".

If you cared about that, you would have done what they wanted to begin with! Do they think you're somehow not making the connection there?

BernardL said...

It's the last slug in their six-gun of verbal shots, D. Even when I'm not busy, I don't do brake patchwork. It's a one way ticket to lawsuits, bankruptcy, and interaction with my favorite people: lawyers. :)