There's an old joke. A guy calls a plumber to fix a small leak in a pipe. The plumber arrives and he's led down the basement steps to view the leak. The plumber examines the pipe from all angles, assessing the situation. Finally, he says to the homeowner, "This looks like a 'Miami job.'" The homeowner asks, "You mean you saw a similar type of leak on a job in Miami?" "No," the plumber clarifies, "I mean with the money I get from you for this repair, I'll be able to spend a month in Miami."
Before I purchased a new car this past May, I drove my trusty Toyota RAV-4 for nearly twenty years. Over the course of two decades — as you can imagine — my car required its fair share of maintenance and repairs, as well as yearly safety inspections required by the state of Pennsylvania. When my car needed service, I took it to a mechanic named Dewey whose shop is in my neighborhood. Dewey is a nice guy, I guess. He would sometimes pick my car up at my house and drop it off when the work was completed. He has a genial demeanor, often limiting the technical jargon when he was explaining the repair that my car would need after I told of the abnormalities I thought my car was experiencing.
The repairs that my car required — at any given visit to Dewey's shop — were extensive. Always. Even for annual inspections, at times when my car was running — in my opinion — just fine, Dewey would find something within the confines of my vehicle's body that would cost me a couple hundred dollars. Always. Once I needed a new headlight. While changing the headlight, Dewey told me that discovered that the intake valve of the deferential influx capacitor was not in tip-top working order. He innocently asked if I'd like it replaced and soon, a lousy new headlight was costing me four hundred bucks. State inspections that should cost around fifty dollars, would always require some crucial engine component. Without a replacement, my car would not pass inspection and possible lead to a more serious issue. Of course, the new part would set me back a few hundred dollars. This went on for years. I don't think Dewey was an incompetent mechanic. I think he just went out of his way to find something wrong with my car every time I brought in. He wasn't going to let me take possession of my vehicle without a payment of at least a hundred bucks. I know nothing about the innerworkings of a car, so I was at the mercy of Dewey's perceived "expertise." So, I had him make any repair he suggested and I paid whatever he told me the bill was.
... until this year when I purchased a 2024 Subaru Crosstrek for the price of my 2004 Toyota RAV-4 and an undisclosed amount of cash. Because of the delicate computer system that is standard on new cars, I purchased an extended warranty on my new vehicle, thus eliminating any future dealing with Dewey. I would be taking my new car to the Subaru dealership for state inspections, any future maintenance and eventual repairs. My wife, who drives a 2018 Toyota takes her car to a Toyota dealer for maintenance, so, as far as I can see, Dewey is out of our lives. As a matter of fact, Mrs. P ran into Dewey at the supermarket and told him that I had purchased a new car. She said he appeared happy and wished me "good luck" with the car.
One day last week, Mrs. Pincus returned from running errands to discover that her car had a flat tire. After the involuntarily voicing of a few choice words, she called AAA and waited for someone to come and change the tire. Afterwards, we discussed her options for getting the flat tire repaired... and repaired quickly. First, we considered the Toyota dealer, but without an appointment for service, who knows how long the wait would be for a "walk-in" repair. The last thing Mrs. P — or anyone — wants to do is spend countless, non-productive hours in car dealership waiting room. The next option was rather obvious — Dewey.. We were fairly sure that Dewey, who operates a one-man repair shop, — would be only too happy to fix a quick flat tire for a member of the Pincus family. After all, we were loyal customers for over twenty years. (Yep, we took our cars before my Toyota to Dewey!)
The next morning, Mrs. P took her "temporary spare tire equipped" car over to Dewey's shop. I, of course, had left for work a few hours earlier. That afternoon, I called my wife to see about the progress of — what I assumed — would be a fast repair.
"How's your car?" my text to my wife read.
A few minutes later, I received this response...
She went to to explain that — according to Dewey's expert assessment — her car would need four new tires and rear brakes.
Apparently, Dewey missed us.