When I tell my friends what I spend on car maintenance, they suggest I find a more reasonably priced shop. I know I should, but I’ve always been fond of old Charlie Ripoffski, my friendly mechanic. He never lectures me about my lack ofautomotive knowhow and he actually sounds sympathetic breaking the bad news about the problems he finds under my car’s hood. Also, he serves free coffee and donuts in his waiting room. How friendly can you get?
When my car needed a simple oil change I knew I could do better at one of those quicky lube places, but they just want to get the job done, take my money and see me off, and no free donuts. Charlie Ripoffski greeted me like a long lost cousin. “Sure, I’ll change your oil and filter and I’ll even throw in a free overall inspection to make sure you’re completely safe out on the highway. You’re one of my best customers and I don’t want to lose you, Ha, Ha.” Good old Charlie.
Charlie returned from the shop with shocking news. He’d discovered I’d been tempting fate driving a car that could burst into flames at any moment. MY aneroidal carburetor is the culprit, he said. “The gasoline goes directly from the tank to this faulty carburetor. I wouldn’t drive this potential torch another 50 miles,” he said. The new carburetor is going to be expensive and not easy to install, Charlie said. “Let me give you an estimate.” He wet his pencil tip and began to jot down figures. “It’s going to be just over $500,” he said. “I’ll do my best to lower that, my friend, but I don’t want to cut corners where your safety’s involved. Come back Tuesday. I’ll have the part by then. It’ll take a couple of hours to install so bring a good book. Ha, Ha. Lucky for you I caught this.”
The very next Monday my car wouldn’t start in the Home Depot lot and eventually the AAA tow truck driver arrived. “What’s the trouble, Mac?”
“I hope it’s not my aneroidal carburetor,” I said. “Your aneroidal what?” I told him about Charlie’s warning.
“There’s no such part,” he said. “This car model hasn’t had any kind of carburetor since 1990 and I never heard of an aneroidal one.” Who told you that fairy tale? Today, it just looks like you left your headlights on and drained the battery.” He jump started me in five minutes.
I went back to Charlie’s on Tuesday. “You were right, Charlie,” I said. I told him my aneroidal carberator began to smoke badly in Newark and I had to get a new one on the spot. “The guy charged me $75 and installed it in a half hour. Thanks anyway for the warning Charlie. I should have been more careful.” He just looked at me blankly and nodded. He knew his jig was up.
After three cups of free coffee I left with my pockets full of donuts. but I’m sure Charlie was still way ahead of me dollarwise.

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