Who - Who - Who's perfect? Not me...
We're all human. We all make mistakes or poor
judgments. I know I'm not perfect. I'm probably my
worst critic, and the best example of not being perfect.
As a mechanic, perfection is something every customer
wants me to obtain when I'm working on their car.
Sometimes it's easy, and sometimes things just don't
go as planned.
A few days ago I was talking with a mechanic from another shop about this very subject. His shop has a steep parking lot in front of it. It's great for getting a dead car into a service bay, but sometimes can be a challenge getting one out. He told me about a customer who came in a few weeks ago with an emergency brake problem. The service writer wrote the work order up and asked the customer where the car was parked. “I parked it on the top of the incline in front of your shop,” the customer tells him. Just as the service writer looked up from his paper work a red driver-less car was slowly moving down the steep drive towards the service bays. The service writer asked the customer, “What color did you say your car is?” The shocked customer ran out of the lobby only to watch the car smash into the yellow barriers between two of the shop doors. The hood, the bumper, the grill, and the windshield all need mending. “I guess I should have left it in gear,” the bewildered owner tells the service writer. Nobody's perfect, things happen. A moment of lost concentration or poor judgment is all it takes. Even with the best of intentions, there's no guarantee things won't come crashing down. Just a few weeks ago another shop owner and I were discussing some of the antics we've seen over the years of car repair. He mentioned to me about a guy he had working for him who liked to move his entire tool box to a job site. The mechanic was finishing up replacing tie rods on a car when he started to let the car down off the lift. While lowering the car another tech asked him a question. Totally forgetting that he had left his roll-around tool box under the lift, it came down on top of it with a loud “Crash” and “Smash” as the tool drawers popped open spewing their contents across the floor. The car was undamaged but the tool box, well, it didn't fare as well. When someone brings parts or components into the shop for me to install I often wonder if they are fully aware of the pitfalls of self-diagnostics, or that what they are attempting to do may not be what they anticipated. Sometimes they find out the results they were told by the person selling the part isn't “exactly” what they expected. One time I had a customer come in with an aftermarket horn he purchased at a discount parts store that he wanted me to install. It was styled like an old model T “ah-ooga” horn. The guy asks me, “Can you install this for me, and set it up so I can use my factory horn button with it?” “Sure, no problem,” I said. “Should we see how it sounds first?” “No, that's OK. I heard one very similar to it in the store, it was shaped a little different than this one, but he said it sounds exactly the same.” Alrightly then, suit yourself... I guess I'll find a place to fit it in. There's not a lot of spare room under the hood of newer cars, and this thing was huge. The only place I could find to put it was just below and behind the headlight assembly on the passenger side. It barely fit in the space, but with a lot of maneuvering I gave it its new home. Of course, I've gotta hear this new tooter toot for myself. Uh, oh... I don't think this is what he expected. It wasn't exactly a perfect “AH- OOGAH” … more like a sick cow mooing. There weren’t any adjustments or anything else that could be done to it... what ya got...is what ya got. “I don't think this is what you were after, sir,” I told the new horn recipient, “What now? You want me to take it back off?” “It's perfect!” he tells me, “I like this sound better.” (Eww?!? - sounded awful to me. Well, then... one sick cow horn it is...). There again, just because I don't think it’s perfect doesn't matter... the customer liked it, and that's all that really matters. It's not a perfect world out there and things can and will go awry. If it was a perfect world out there, who would need a plumber, a doctor, or a mechanic? Nothing would break, nothing would wear out, and nothing would go wrong. There wouldn't be cars gliding down steep hills with bad emergency brakes or horns that sounded like a sick cow.
Of course, in the repair business, there's always the problems generated by missed diagnosis or a faulty new part that adds to the frustration. I've had numerous occasions where several parts in a row are faulty right out of the box. Only to find out that an entire shipment was manufactured wrong. This brings me back to that ultimate issue... perfection. The ultimate goal. Life isn't perfect; it has its ups and downs just like everything else. If you're not feeling “perfect”, you might need to see a doctor. They’re a busy bunch of professionals, those doctors are. We as humans are far from perfect, so it's not long before we all might have to go see the old “saw bones” for some repair. At the doctor's office you wait... sometimes for hours just for that fifteen minutes of office time with the doc. In a perfect world you wouldn't need to wait, but we all have to get in line with the rest of the human race when it comes to seeing most professional help with something. (I always wondered how some people can sit at a doctor’s office for several hours for their fifteen minutes with the doctor and never complain... but, at the repair shop they can't wait fifteen minutes to get their car in the shop for a several hour repair.) In a perfect world all car parts would be treated like the different organs a doctor would transplant. Everything is checked, double checked, then and only then, would we use those components. But, that's not how things are in the real world. Some people prefer the bargain priced parts for their car. There's a good chance those imperfect choices for the road missile we speed down the highway in (affectionately known as the family car) could lead to an even bigger problem later on. I doubt you're going to hear anyone at the accident scene say, “Well, he would have made it, if he wouldn't have used those cheap car parts from that fly-by night repair shop.”
Let's face it...nobody's perfect.