I lived in Birmingham, AL from August 2014 to July 2016. I was working full time, going to school at night, and barely getting by on my own income. Like many college students, I was burdened by an unreliable car. My grandfather (nicknamed “Pappaw”) has owned his own auto shop in Kissimmee, FL for more than 30 years. There is no one I trust more when it comes to cars than him. In my first month in Birmingham, my car broke down and I called Pappaw immediately. He recommended a shop with similar credentials to his own. Upon arrival, I jokingly told my new mechanic, “If you do a good job, I promise that I’ll be back once a month.”
After numerous breakdowns, tows, and repairs, I finally upgraded my car. Just when I thought I had seen the last of my car problems, a light on my dashboard told me that my tire pressure was low—and dropping. I knew that I had to get it fixed before the end of the day. On my lunch break, I drove to a tire store to see what the issue was. They told me that I had a nail stuck in my tire and my only solution was to have it replaced for upwards of $200. I decided to call my local mechanic for a second opinion. He told me to come by the shop after work and that he’d stay late to inspect my tire. He plugged the hole in my tire and had me back on the road for less than $10. I was so relieved and very, very grateful.
As someone who doesn’t know much about cars, I am very thankful for the mechanics in my life. Driving home from my mechanic that day, I thought about how I’d never go back to that tire store. While their recommendation was off-putting, I realized that they were in the business of selling tires, not servicing them. To them, my tire represented a transaction. To my mechanic, my tire represented an ongoing relationship and continuous service to a valued customer. My car experiences have taught me that expert advice is invaluable, relationships matter, and that I should call my Pappaw more often.