A Tale of Two Mechanics

A lesson in cheating.

A Take of Two Mechanics

Tony meant well. I know he did. That’s what makes our soap opera (grease drama?) so regrettably sad.

Tony is my mechanic. Well, he was my mechanic. Actually, he might still be my mechanic. Sort of. He’s just not my mechanic right now. It’s complicated.

The problem is that someone else is tinkering with my car’s innards—peeking under her hood and looking at her undercarriage while perched upon a hoist. To paraphrase the lyrics to one of the cheesiest songs to ooze out of the seventies: “Torn between two mechanics / feeling like a fool / loving them both / is breaking all the rules … ”

My situation is especially arduous thanks to Tony being so giving—free estimates, quick turnaround time, masterful workmanship for a fair price. Tony is an artist armed with a monkey wrench. But now it’s my conscience that’s wrenching. I find it hard to even look Tony in the eyes. You see, there’s somebody else. There’s another mechanic.

Awhile back, my 1993 Honda Prelude was submitted to its biannual Drive Clean emissions test. It failed. A few billionths of bad particulate emissions were being belched into the atmosphere. Thus, my Honda was deemed an environmental threat, presumably melting icecaps as I drove to the supermarket. Mechanical moron that I am, I did what I always do when baffled by the ghost in the machine: I visited Tony. Since Tony’s shop isn’t set up for emissions testing, Tony suggested I visit another mechanic—that would be Manny—who would not only repair the faulty tailpipe but also re-test the car. See how giving Tony is?

I piloted my vintage smog-hog to Manny’s shop with trepidation. All I could think of was that old Honda ad tagline, “Don’t open your hood to strangers.” But, as soon as I met Manny, my fears ebbed. His shop was newer, bigger, cleaner. His comfy waiting room was stocked with magazines that were actually published in the current millennium. And man-oh-Manny, was he good. Real good. After a few hours of his handiwork, my car easily passed the emissions test. He also determined a faulty bearing was affecting performance. He fixed it. The Prelude feels 10 years younger and I feel reinvigorated behind the wheel of my Brittany blue-green metallic coupe.

But as the months passed, whenever a repair beckoned, I found myself drawn to Manny instead of Tony. I had become promiscuous in my mechanical needs.

Recently, when Manny was on holiday, a minor repair was required. I had no choice but to go back to Tony for a quickie. I gulped when Tony popped the hood. Would he recognize repairs that weren’t of his doing?

Tony didn’t say anything. Yet, did he know deep down I was seeing another mechanic? Was he too shaken to confront me? He seemed fine on the outside, but, inside, was he weeping?

I couldn’t stand the guilt any longer. I had to come clean. As Tony presented the bill, I cleared my throat. “Hey, Tony, I’ve got something to tell you,” I stammered. And after a pause: “That’s a great picture of your son playing hockey.”

Yet the guilt continued to consume me. I was seeing another mechanic and, worse, that other mechanic was Tony’s friend.

A truly awkward moment occurred when I bumped into Tony at the local plaza. “Say, aren’t you due for an oil change?” he asked.

“Well … you know, I just changed the oil myself,” I lied.

“Really?” Tony replied, one grease-coated eyebrow arched upward. He knows I’m useless. Change my oil? I may as well have told him I had just split the atom with a pickaxe.

“Yeah, I bought a copy of Mechanics for Dummies,” I blurted out, followed by some nervous, forced laughter. Tony looked at me as if he were analyzing a broken gasket.

Alas, nowadays, a cruel, new dilemma has arisen: Manny—who used to get back to me so promptly with estimates—seemingly can’t be bothered. He nonchalantly shrugs off my concerns. He tells me there are other cars. Some of them require more urgent attention than my Prelude.

I Googled Mechanics for Dummies. It’s not a book, after all.

Photo by EladeManu via Flickr.