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Country > Philippines
Date > 1970 > Jul
Sections > Verbatim | Lucid Thoughts | Slice of Life

Verbatim Lucid Thought Slice of Life

Dad Stories

A Powerful Lesson from the Car Mechanic July 29, 1970

A Powerful Lesson from the Car Mechanic

Location Google Map: Metro Manila, Philippines

Car Diagnostic vs Car Repair
I was still a teenager. With an old car in the garage, there was always something that needed repair. Finding a guy who can fix the problem was easy. But finding the guy who can find out what the problem is (car diagnostics), is difficult.

To diagnose what's wrong with a car, it takes many years of experience and an innate ability to isolate the problem. It's hard to find a guy who can competently do this.

Finding the Right Mechanic
Frustrated over a car problem nobody could solve, Dad tried a new mechanic from some shop. The mechanic looked under the hood and tested the car. Finally, he talked to my Dad and explained what the problem was, gave a quote and a time frame. Dad approved, and at the designated delivery date, the car was performing like new.

A Powerful Lesson from the Car Mechanic

Dad was elated. Moreover, he wanted to keep the mechanic by offering him to be the chief mechanic of a car shop my Dad was willing to put up for him. They shook hands on this.

Medical Needs
To show good-faith and develop rapport, Dad sent the mechanic to his physician for jaundice treatment. Dad wanted to make it clear to the mechanic that he will be looked after, beyond the paycheck.

Another Car
Dad sent a second car for fixing. A checklist of needed parts was prepared by the mechanic. Dad approved and gave money for the mechanic to purchase the parts to do the fix.

But this time, Dad double-checked the receipt with the actual shop whose owner was his friend (unbeknownst to the mechanic). To his utter dismay, he learned that the mechanic padded up the receipt.

At the shop, while we were waiting for the car to be finished, Dad intimated to me a lesson I will never forget.

Dad: "Son, I'd like you to look at that guy (referring to the mechanic who was still working on the car). He's a brilliant mechanic. Hard to find someone as good as him. So I offered him a partnership with a car shop. I even sent him to my doctor and paid all his bills, so he feels that I'm also interested in his well-being.

What does he do? He padded up the receipt for the parts he bought. The first instance he thought he could steal from me, he does it. It doesn't matter how brilliant he is, he'll never go far in life. Give it 10 more years, and he'll still be toiling at someone else's garage for a daily wage. He could have been a chief mechanic at a shop I planned for him. Now, that's gone and he'll stay exactly where he is now."

Ending Thoughts
I'm writing this article in April 2021. The details and date may be hazy, but the lesson learned was powerful and profound.

I would often meet people in the Philippines, usually minimum wage earners, who would complain of how life has been increasingly difficult. I would often tell them the same thing, gleaning from the lesson I learned from that mechanic episode.

Gigit: "Life doesn't have to be difficult. And you don't have to be a genius in what you do provided you can do a good job. What matters to your boss is that you don't steal from him. Just be honest. Why? Because honest people are hard to come by. If you could just be that, you'll never have to worry about the next meal."

That lesson served me well in the many years I'd been traveling with very little money. I would talk to business owners and trade my service for what he has - a hotel room, food, transportation, movies, etc. I see that agreement, not as a free room, but a golden opportunity to let him size-up my worth - business people have a keen eye for good people. Why? Because it's harder to find good people than it is to make money. If he spots that, he would want you under his umbrella - in whatever capacity.

So what exactly are these qualities? From my experience, it would be the following:

  1. deliver on time according to specs - this tells him you are reliable and won't compromise him
  2. deliver more than what you promised - this exceeds his expectation and comes as a pleasant surprise. Why? Because he always meets people who'll do shortcuts and half-baked jobs with poor excuses why it couldn't be done
  3. protect his interest - make him feel that in his absence, all remains well because your presence is as good as him being there. This takes worry off his head and may continue to count on you
  4. do not steal - no brainer, but very hard for most people
  5. be loyal - again, in this age of instant gratification, loyalty may not even give any kind of reward, but a person will know if your loyalty is there - and it will matter.

Having met many people in my travels (businessmen, politicians, community leaders, etc.), I can still enumerate some standing offers made to me by them:

  1. I am her houseguest for life
  2. If I settle down in his resort, he'll build a bamboo house for me and will develop a yoga resort that I can manage
  3. If I visit his hotel again, I will be his personal guest...and not a hotel guest

Currently, my benefactor is a reformed Chinese Triad gangster who is tough as nails and sharp like a blade. You don't mess around with people like him. But he has opened his doors to welcome me...not as a blogger who once promoted his business, but as a friend he could count on.

Yes, the lesson I learned from that car mechanic is overly simplistic yet rewarding. It doesn't take a rocket scientist.

--- Gigit (TheLoneRider)
YOGA by Gigit Yoga by Gigit | Learn English Learn English | Travel like a Nomad Nomad Travel Buddy | Donation Bank Donation Bank for TheLoneRider

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Reader Comments:

AnonymousMr. Anonymous
(April 5, 2023) I like this piece and agree with your assessment. While reading it, I thought of the many instances of "double pricing" that I encounter as a foreigner is SE Asia.

Surprisingly, the more off the "beaten path" I travel, the more I encounter this. After reading this piece I had the thought that maybe the increased prevalence is due to the fact that they haven't suffered negative consequences of their obvious double pricing. The locals in the more touristy areas might know that repeat business, even if the tourists are only there for two weeks, is ultimately more beneficial than the short term gain of an inflated transaction.

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