Jan 20, 2009

Auto Mechanics 101


So this is a story about a normal, everyday citizen. This citizen owned a car, which he drove to work every day. Over time, he began to notice that the car seemed to pull to the left quite hard. The problem was bad enough that one day it got the attention of a prominent (though somewhat remote) mechanic. The mechanic diagnosed the problem as a bad alignment and told the owner that he would have to keep the car for a few days until the problem was fixed.

This was terribly inconvenient for the owner of the car, but nonetheless, the mechanic insisted and left the man with no choice.

A couple of days passed and the mechanic could be heard hammering, drilling, and pounding away at the car. Given that the shop had large glass windows, spectators would watch the mechanic, sometimes questioning his techniques and approaches to fixing the car.

After some time, the owner came in to inquire about the status of the repairs. The mechanic claimed that although the car ran on a 4-cylinder engine, it really would perform better with a 6-cylinder engine.

The owner claimed "I realize that you think a different engine would better power my car, but I'm not sure I want a bigger engine!"

"Nonsense!" cried the mechanic, who continued to explain: "I power my own car with a 6-cylinder engine! It works wonders for me, so it should also work for you. Also, due to the increase in horsepower, we will also install a new and more sturdy suspension system and a more reinforced framework, as needed."

"Well," cried the man again, "I am not sure that I agree to this drastic alteration of the car's infrastructure!"

"Regardless, you will just have to step aside and let me finish my job." retorted the mechanic.

The mechanic kept the car in his shop for another week, as he tinkered here and there on this and that. When that owner entered the shop much later, the mechanic rolled his eyes as he prepared to take the defensive once again.

"I think that I would like my car back now. Is it fixed?", the owner inquired.

"Well, the good news is that the alignment is better than it was before." responded the mechanic.

"You mean that you fixed it?" asked the man.

"No, you'll still find a very noticeable pull to the left, but it is much better than when we started." replied the mechanic. "Now for some bad news ... it turns out that I feel as though the car is very vulnerable right now, and there are too many dangers that could potentially ruin the car if you were to drive it in your neighborhood without my supervision. It is best that the car remain in my shop and under my control indefinitely. Also, the cost of my repairs have far exceeded even the most liberal of estimates. But the good news is that my shop will absorb these costs for you."

"Boy, I feel bad for those people who would pick up such a tab..."

"Oh, don't worry about that. Anyway, they really have no choice in the matter."

"So," analyzed the owner, "if I have this correctly, the problem with the alignment was real, but in order to fix it, we made enormous repairs to the entire infrastructure of the car. Since there was an apparent lack of a cost-benefit analysis, as well as an nonexistent timeline, this fix seems to be not very pragmatic at all, don't you think? Also, why did you begin work on the car in the first place, when you did not have any idea how to properly and efficiently finish the repairs?"

"I refuse to think about that. Sure there may have been some 'disappointments' along the way, and I currently have the lowest automechanic ratings in all of the Yelp community, but I consciously remain obstinate when I say that 'this was the right thing to do!'"

This story continues even today. The car is no longer in the shop, but every time the owner drives the car, his mechanic insists on being in the passenger seat, instructing the owner constantly how to best drive this "rebuilt" automobile. Because the shop has such large glass windows, a mass of spectators recently witnessed the owner of the car remove his shoes and throw them at the mechanic.

Today we, as a community, will participate in a most historic change in upper management. I hope that the new shop mechanics will keep the repairs efficient, the costs low, and the reviews favorable.

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