Professional Auto/Truck repair shops have tens of thousands of dollars tied up in all manner of diagnostic machines, tooling, and computer gear. People assume anything wrong with their car can be found out quickly and easily by throwing it on the ‘Machine’. While wonderful aids for a variety of repairs, our ‘Machine’ is not an all seeing magic eye into the inner workings of everything on a vehicle.
At first when a new customer comes in, this assumption can be humorous. I’ve had people come in with noises in their brakes, who want an instant estimate. I explain an exact estimate can’t be determined until I physically check the vehicle’s brakes. The funny part comes when they get this disgusted look on their faces, and tell me I should just throw it on the ‘Machine’ for a ball park figure. This usually costs me about ten minutes lost time trying to convince them my ‘Machine’ cannot insert its tentacles into their car and amazingly spit out diagnostics on everything. Sometimes I don’t have the time to waste, and sometimes my sarcastic side rears its cement head. On occasion I tell them my ‘Machine’ and I are going through a rough period in our relationship, and it just starts reciting "Mary Had A Little Lamb" every time I try to get it to tell me about something it wasn't designed to do.
Granted, this rocket usually streaks right over many of these potential customers’ heads. Once in a while I get someone in like the older lady the other day, who wanted me to give her an estimate on an air conditioning problem on her 1998 Honda Accord. It was blowing the fuse every time she changed it and turned it on. After my usual spiel about needing diagnostic time to find out what the problem was, she gave me the ‘just throw it on the ‘Machine’ line for an instant figure. I gave her my smart-Alec remark with the scene involving Dave and Hal the computer from 2001, A Space Odyssey. She paused for a moment and told me with a straight face she had done some relationship counseling, and offered to mediate with the ‘Machine’ if I'd give her a discount. I declined, but with regret. :)