Take it or leave itWritten by Nick Shultz | | firstname.lastname@example.org
I am stunned by the number of folks who read this newspaper. I am equally shocked by the number of people who read this column. That fact humbles me. Since I started writing this column I have had folks come up to me in gas stations and parking lots and say something along the lines, “aren’t you that guy who writes about cars in the paper?” I usually smile and respond with “so you’re the person who reads my column.” That usually is enough to break the ice. I don’t think the picture along side this column is really a good representation of me. I always thought I was better looking then the picture depicts. Nevertheless, I get recognized from time to time and without fail along with the recognition come the car related questions.
I really do not mind the questions. The fact is I truly enjoy being able to help folks out. What I do not like, however, is when folks don’t like or agree with the answer I give them. Even worse is when someone who just asked me a question challenges the answer. It doesn’t happen often. However, sometimes it does happen.
I’ll give you an example. I was filling up my vehicle not long ago when a middle age man said he recognized me from my picture and wondered if I could help him solve a problem with his car. I told him I’d be happy to try after I pulled my vehicle away from the fuel pumps. There was a line up waiting to fuel and I didn’t want to slow down the cars behind me. The gentleman trailed after me through the service station leaving his car still sitting at the pumps. As soon as my vehicle was parked out of the way this gentleman told me he thought he had a cracked block or a blown head gasket leaking on his six year old mini-van. After I had directed a few questions to him trying to pinpoint the rationale for his diagnosis it became clear to me that he really didn’t have a problem at all. It seems his main concern is that he sees water dripping out his tailpipe during early morning warm up and he was certain, in his mind, this was an abnormal condition. Now mind you, he hasn’t had to add any coolant in his recovery tank or into his radiator. Furthermore, the vehicle had never overheated to his knowledge. Nonetheless, he was certain there was a major problem internally. I was equally convinced the water dripping out of his tailpipe immediately after a cold start up was just a normal condition. The major fact that he has never once had to add water to the coolant system didn’t seem to bother him at all. He was certain of his diagnosis and really just wanted me to confirm it for him. As politely as I could I informed him that it was most likely a normal condition but if he was truly concerned then he should have the coolant system checked by a reputable technician. He was not happy with me, I could tell. I sure hope some shop doesn’t sell him head gaskets just to placate him.
Another example of some folks not wanting to accept my opinion may be a true classic. A lady stopped me outside Wal-Marts in Perrysburg with a question regarding her 2007 Ford Mustang. She was certain she had bought a lemon and really just wanted me to confirm that fact for her. Apparently the Mustang, with only 22,500 miles on it, has already been through two sets of brakes and a clutch. The Mustang had several other small issues that were addressed by the service shop as well. Now, she says, to make matters worse the one year old clutch, which had cost her several hundred dollars to replace, was acting up again. Her bright red Mustang GT was parked next to my vehicle so I gazed at it as I pondered what she was telling me. I told her that it was very unusual to hear such horror stories about the “Stang” as it most often was a very dependable vehicle. She said she thought so too and that is one of the reasons she had bought the car. She went on to say that it was very difficult for a single mother raising a teenage son to cover all the maintenance costs associated with the “lemon Mustang.”
It was almost at the same time she said “teenage son” that I noticed the rear tires on the Mustang. Where there should have been at least half the tread still remaining on the rear tires was instead nearly bald tires. I knew in my heart that her son had “popped the clutch” and “Spun the rear wheels” so many times that very little tread was left. Almost certainly the failed brakes were a result of his abuse. Furthermore, He had destroyed at least one clutch, and probably another, in his desire to “squeal the tires.” I was actually surprised the transmission hadn’t let go yet as well.
Somehow I worked in the question regarding her sons driving status. Yes; she replied, he did indeed drive the Mustang occasionally. A look of understanding came into her eyes almost immediately and she turned on me like a wild cat on a jack rabbit. Her son was a good boy and would never abuse her trust. She had simply purchased a lemon and that was all there was to it were the last words she said to me as she hurried away. Hmmm… Ok! As she left I could tell by her body language that she was really just running from the truth. It was also clear to me that she knew it. I sure hope her son doesn’t wrap the “Stang” around a pole or a guardrail especially if he has some innocent teenager with him. I wonder, is she culpable should her son kill or injure someone?
I have learned from years in the classroom and after decades of talking to customers that not everyone wants to hear the answers I may have for the questions they ask. I have come to realize that the questions that are asked of me may often not be the true questions posed at all. Even so I will continue to answer them as honestly as I can.
Believe me the rewards I receive when helping someone in need far out weigh the few criticisms that have come along the way. I look forward to seeing you on the road. Please Drive Safe!
P.S. I keep waiting for that person who wants me to drive their Porsche for the weekend to see if I can figure out the high speed miss…