We Know You

My car died again. This time, it’s the transmission. It would cost $1500 to fix it and the car is barely worth twice that. I’m not sinking more money into the money pit that is my car. It’s time to say a tearful goodbye, or in this case, good riddance.

My mechanic, a relatively honest chap as far as mechanics go, convinced me that it was time to part ways. He was as forlorn as me since that car was a good earner for him. I asked him if he wanted to buy it off of me and he looked at me like I had just sprouted a unicorn horn from my forehead. And then he laughed. He laughed for far longer than I would have thought necessary really.

When I first brought my car to my mechanic, he scolded me for not consulting him first. He told me that, if I had, he would have consulted me not to buy my car. At the time though, I was so entirely sick of car shopping that I would have bought a mule if it got reasonable gas mileage. Besides, I didn’t know my mechanic yet, since my previous car, destroyed by an idiot woman in an accident, didn’t really need one.

It’s not a good thing to be on a first name basis with your car mechanic. It’s not good when he recognizes your phone number and answers the phone, “Well, what is it this time?” These are things that we, as a society and specifically me, could do without. On the other hand, having a good mechanic is as important as having a good doctor. I don’t have a doctor since I don’t have health insurance, but I do have a mechanic.

My mechanic, as it turns out, has a side business. He buys broken cars like mine, only they’re actually cars worth fixing. He fixes them up in his spare time and sells them to people like me. Who knew? I certainly didn’t. Right next to the garage where all the magical mechanic-ey business happens, there is a tiny showroom packed with more cars than you would have though possible for the space that he bought and fixed up. I did not know this.

My mechanic walked me over next door to the tiny showroom and introduced me to his brother. He said to his brother, “She is a customer.” His brother looked at him and they shared a knowing nod. “What does that mean?” I asked mechanic’s brother, whose name went wooshing through my mind and out the other ear in a millisecond. “Well,” mechanic’s brother said, “that means that we won’t rip you off.” And he laughed for far longer than I would have thought necessary really. These brothers are full of jokes at my expense.

“No, really, what it means is that we know you and we will do the best we can for you.” I queried, “Shouldn’t you do the same for someone who just walked in off the street?” “Well, yes, but we know you.” I decided to let it slide since I seemed to be on the winning end of “know.”

Very unlike any used car salesman it has ever been my displeasure to meet, and I met a lot of them last time around, mechanic’s brother doesn’t show me any of the cars. Instead, he sits me down in his office and asks me what my price range is. I tell him the laughably small amount of cash I have on hand. He says, “Okay. Do you want a four-door or coupe?” I tell him I do not care if it has no doors and I have to climb in through the trunk as long as it gets me back and forth to work relatively painlessly. He says, “Good.” I begin to sweat with the dread of what that means.

He walks me back over to my mechanic. They share a short, hushed conversation. The mechanic hands him a set of keys, which mechanic’s brother hands to me. I ask which car. He walks me over to something like this:


“Um, okay. Well, that’s fancy. Are you sure I can afford this? How much is it?” “It’s $5,500.” “But I already told you that I don’t have that kind of money.” Mechanic’s brother, strangely, without even a hint of smarminess says, “It’s okay, we’ll work with you on it. We know you.” Uh oh. “Take it for a test drive and see if you like it.” I do and I do. It’s a million times fancier than my old car, yet, still somehow familiar since my old car is a BMW, too. This one is ten years newer.

I tell mechanic’s brother that I’ll have to think about it. One should not take purchases like this lightly. I mull it over with Male and friends and dog and cat and anyone else I can think of. I really don’t want a car payment again, but I really don’t have the money to buy something decent outright. Also, I have bad credit and the likelihood of me getting a reasonable rate with someone who does not know me is nil. Also, this car has been personally fixed up by my mechanic, who I mostly trust. I trust him enough to know that he wouldn’t put his name on a lemon. Also, the thought of having to go through the pain of car shopping again gives me the hives.

Okay, fine. The next morning, I went back to see mechanic’s brother. After car shopping for precisely twenty minutes and test driving precisely one car, I bought it. Now, I’m deeper in debt, I have a car payment again and barely double digits in my checking account. And I’m seriously waffling over whether I made the right decision or not. The first thing I did this morning when I woke up was cringe thinking about it. I cringed at the thought that I made the wrong decision again and that now I have to turn into mechanic’s brother by selling my old car outright to some poor schlub who wants to sink $1500 into a $3000 car. Boooooo to all of that.

Hopefully, I will not be seeing my mechanic every other month like the last one. I really don’t want to know him well enough to have to invite him over for dinner and buy presents for his kids. It’s bad enough we’re on a first name basis.