Perceived or not, no matter what the situation, there
are some expectations that are the norm. You may think
of an expectation as a happy ending to a problem,
but it can, and often does turn out the other way.
It can even be a bit frustrating when things don’t go
according to plan. It’s to be expected.
In the automotive repair business there’s a lot of
expectations associated with the job. Be it from
the customer who wants their car repaired, or
from myself to do the job correctly and as efficiently
as possible. Although there are always those constant
“curve balls” thrown around when dealing with every
facet of life or running a business, but somehow,
some way we all find a way to handle all of life’s
ups and downs.
Just the other day I was in the middle of printing out an invoice when the printer decided it was time to end its usefulness. No warning, no previous glitches… just a buzz from inside the printer and a bunch of blinking lights on the control panel. The customer was in a hurry, and expected a copy of the invoice that second. Wouldn’t ya know it… it had to breakdown with a “Hurry up, get it done” type of person at the counter. (Should’ve expected that.)
“I’ll have to hand write you an invoice because it looks like the printer just fried,” I told him. He wasn’t all that happy about waiting for me to hand write the entire ticket out, but… what could I do? I expected the printer to do its job; I wasn’t expecting a break down in the middle of a transaction. But, here we are, hey… things break, things fail… believe me, there was no expectation that it would last forever, no expectations that the customer would see the predicament I was in, or be understanding about the whole thing… nope ya just gotta do what ya gotta do … deal with it. I expected nothing less. These expectations can even be heightened by a false sense of insurance brought on by a cheap sub-market component that is supposed to function just as well as the top shelf part. Many times I’ll have a customer bring in the latest super-duper-double-chrome-plated-extra-deluxe-can’t-live-without-it car accessory they saw on TV or in the back of some obscure magazine. It’s something they just have to have even though the validity of the product’s claims never match up to the actual results. It could be as simple as replacing the stock gas cap with a locking one. Sure, I’ll install it, what harm can I get into? I should know better… there’s always a few surprises. Should’ve expected something when the customer said… “This shouldn’t take you long to install. I’ll wait on it,” as he handed over this box of gaskets, screws, a few oddly shaped parts and some sort of instruction sheet wrote in hieroglyphics that even the Egyptian scholars haven’t deciphered yet. It’s those famous last words from the customer that does it in. My expectations most certainly involve “Murphy’s Law” sneaking around the next corner any second now. It’s like the death wish of car repair. Tell me it shouldn’t take long, and bring me some cheap knock off part, and I’ll guarantee the expectations of a complete failure are mere moments away. Oh, don’t worry, I’ll install it, and sure, I’ll warn them about how their results may vary from their perceived expectations … but do you think that does any good? Nope… never does.
All of which is supposed to fit perfectly… but never does quite fit like the drawings described (You know, those drawings and instructions in hieroglyphics? The ones you can’t read? I can expect one thing for sure… a long drawn out repair slowed down by poor instructions and badly designed components… been there-done that…). Again, should’ve expected it from the beginning.
Whenever I get a call that starts out with, “Hi, I’m an attorney in town, and I have a client with car problems that I’d like to discuss with you.” My expectations are somewhat jaded already. For the most part an education in law doesn’t make you an expert in car repair, but arrogance has no boundaries when a shifty lawyer sees dollar signs and an easy mark. The last lawyer call like this that I had, the guy not only told me he knew more than I did, but made it perfectly clear that he was more than capable of deciding (before the facts) the proper course of action and who he was going to go after.
As the story unfolded it turned out that the car was at a shop for an unrelated problem when something went wrong with the electrical system. His exact phrase to me was, “It went haywire and caused erratic expulsions from the air conditioner.” (I really have no expectations of getting through this encounter without another migraine, or a few choice comments of my own.) Then, the car was taken to another shop where it was diagnosed and repaired. However, the repairs only lead to even more problems which the client wasn’t willing to pay for and expected the first shop to cough up the bucks and admit it was their fault. (I kind of expected that.) So here I am in my office, just a few minutes before closing time, listening to this local attorney explain to me in detail about the repairs that were made. The only thing I can think of is how I would rather not be his “puppet” expert witness or the next victim at the hands of this ambulance chaser. I very carefully, methodically, and in as many single syllable words as I could think of (Because I’m only a mechanic, you know.) informed him how to best handle this problem and not to get a third party involved at this time. I suggested they go back to the last shop and have them explain things in detail. As I told him, “You’ve paid to have this problem repaired. It appears to still be a problem, which means to me, either there’s more to the story (always is) or someone’s expectations of the results aren’t in line with what has actually taken place.” I haven’t heard back from him … yet, but my expectations are high that he’ll call again. We all have our hopes and dreams, and we all have expectations each and every day. It’s a good thing to have expectations, just don’t let those expectations cloud your judgment. Keep an open mind, and keep looking forward. “Hope for the best and expect the worst” is one policy that will keep you looking over your shoulder. But, … I’ll bet… … you expected me to tell you that.