The Most Interesting Person in the World

Updates from Lauren’s Life

Posted on: April 2, 2010

I wanted so desperately to root for the underdog. I insisted on paying full price, despite all the warnings blaring in my head. I just wanted to be able to trust people that badly.

A few weeks ago, someone came to my house offering to deal with the dents on my car door, as well as some scratches all over. Wait, let me give you a little more back story. On my driver door, there are a number of dents. These dents are like family. I’ve had them for so long, they’ve reproduced over time. I have no idea where any of them came from, but it must have been back in university when they first appeared. They’re like a part of my car. In a parking lot, as I often would brag to anyone who saw my car, I can always tell which one is mine because, out of all the similar green cars surrounding it, it’s the only one with such big, beautiful dents in the door. On the other hand, the scratches all over the car, some yellow, some white, and some black because the paint is removed, are a lot more recent and though there is something appealing about them being on both sides (asymmetrical symmetry, if you will), I don’t have the same emotional attachment to these scratches, so I could take them or leave them.

Which is why, the other day, when someone knocked on my door and offered to fix up my car from my driveway, I thought it was a gift from Heaven. Despite my attachment, I have been advised over the years that I really ought to do something about the dents, before they rust (and then–before the rusting gets worse), but I had always been too lazy to take the car out somewhere and wait around while it gets done, but even worse to price shop around until I find the best place. So when this guy told me he would do it without me having to go anywhere, and offered it for only $350 (which I’m sure is a better price than an expensive, established body shop) including all the scratches, part of me just wanted to hire him as a thank-you for showing up and caring. Another part of me figured, it’s Passover and I’m not cleaning my kitchen or inside my car like maybe I should, this is the least I could do.

So I called him back. I already knew that whatever happened, I would not get any kind of warranty, I would not get any receipt, and I have no contact information for this guy other than a phone number that he told me just goes to voicemail. I didn’t do my homework to price compare, nor did I reference check the body shop he told me he used to work for. My next line of defense was to have on hand somebody who is good at negotiating in any situation where he might be getting ripped off, but I didn’t want to disturb such a person. I had the upper hand: I’m not paying until after I see the job done, and if it’s an incomplete job, I decided I would only give $300. But truth be told, my biggest inclintation was to keep my word, and really hope that this is an honest operation, so I can tell all my friends to hire this guy.

So what happens? Three guys show up. They get to work on my car. Soon I get called (not a knock on the door) to be aware they’ve gone out to buy towels, but don’t worry, I won’t be charged for that. Later I get told that a piece inside my car door is broken which they replace, which is a $38 charge they would like (but don’t enforce), yet when asked to produce the piece (it’s in the truck) or at least explain to me how something inside my car could get broken, I am declined.

The best part is that while they’re working away at my car, I am inside, dealing with various phone calls and e-mails and blogging away, or whatever it is that I do–not sitting around some shop trying to find a way to fill the time.

The weirdest part is after they’re done, proudly showing off their work. There is white stuff all over my car. As a cousin later described it, it looked like I drove by a shaving cream explosion. As I am told, this is part of the cleaning process and needs to be left over night. “But I have to drive my car to a job interview soon!” I protested. “That’s why I specifically told you I needed the job to be done by 3–because I need to use it!” “Oh, don’t worry, you can clean it off in a few hours then,” my tour guide told me. “I don’t have a few hours. I’m driving this thing as soon as you leave.” “It’s okay, just leave it on and clean it when you get back.”

You bet I drove to that job interview in a paint explosion-mobile. But we agreed that they would come back the next day to clean off the car. At which point, we could talk about that $38 piece. Also, they would bring me a receipt. They promised.

My main contact at this point, the father of the first guy I talked to (that is, if the father-son claim of their operation is true), came insisde to settle the account. My Bubie is a tough cookie, and she demanded he write down his address, phone number, amount I paid, and sign it. “Okay,” he said, winking at me, “write down whatever you want.” So I did. He told me his name was Bob, and wrote the letters B-O-B on my piece of paper. “Do you guys have a website or anything?” “Oh, yeah, the guys are working on it,” he said, still thinking I was on his side about how silly it was my Bubie was demanding he give us something in writing. “What will the address be? I’m going to want to tell my friends about you guys.” He made up something that sounded about right, telling me he wasn’t sure, but it’ll be online soon.

I knew 100% of this was bull-doo-doo. I had no way of checking if the scratches were off. I had no guarantee they would return the next day, even though he repeated that promise again inside my house. But I couldn’t deal with any of this. I was in a rush. I gave him the $350, thinking, at least I’m not throwing in an extra $38 (which he did ask about, but was like, whatever.)

They didn’t return. It’s been almost a week. I’ve been meaning to hose it myself (translation: I’ve been meaning to get my boyfriend to hose down my car), but every day since then has been either Shabbat, Chag, or the day where I have to do everything I can’t do on a Shabbat or Chag day, so I haven’t had the chance. Finally, tonight I paid for a car wash ($8.50 I should have taken off the amount I gave them). It got rid of most of the shaving cream, but there is still a theme of white along the bottom of my car.

In the end, I may have lost those dents that I love so much (not to mention $350 of my hard-earned money), but I gained something new. White pieces of decoration that adorn my car. Not to mention a story that I hope I will enjoy telling, just as much as I always loved telling about my reproducing dents.


2 Responses to "Updates from Lauren’s Life"

Sabra. Also known as Cactus Pear or Prickly Pear fruit. Opuntia ficus-indica.

Often prickly and rough on the outside… but ohhhh so sweet on the inside : )

P.S. When are we doing The Great Painterhoople Extravaganza!!!

I’ll have to look up where to get proper car paints : )

My car’s full name is: My Micaceous Sabra.
Named for her colour, Cactus Micah, which just sounded too pretentious for me to let go. But that might all become irrelevant soon…
Please do look into car paints for me. I hear they’re expensive. 😦 But maybe somebody is selling cans they already opened?

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s



%d bloggers like this: