Recently I had been experiencing some issues with my car. Although brand new, it had been shimmying. The repair man at the dealership told me I needed new rotors on my brakes as well as two new tires because the belts were warped. I opted not to do anything about it because they said it wasn't urgent, but should be attended to soon. Over the next few weeks, the shimmying became progressively worse.
I'd get to it soon, I promised.
One morning while rushing out the door for church, my tire light came on. One of the tires was nearly flat. I knew I should have tended to those tires sooner!
The next morning I took my car to the local tire dealer (not wanting to drive the extra miles to the car dealership) to look at the tire which was nearly flat. A serviceman about ten years younger than me helped me out. There were two nails, so it needed a repair. No big deal.
Concerned over the warped belts that the car dealership warned me about as well as the shimmying, I felt as though I should bring this to his attention. He gave the tires a squeeze, running his fingers along the treads and said the tires were fine. Surely that wasn't a good measure of the health of a tire, was it?
He then mentioned that my tires looked as though they'd never been rotated. I told him that couldn't possibly be true - I'd paid for tire rotation services at the car dealership every time I'd gotten an oil change. He offered to balance and rotate my tires but I was hesitant. I'd just paid for those services at the car dealership, so he had to be looking to make a sale, right? I didn't trust service repairmen. They were crooked, always looking to sell you something you don't really need just to make a buck. Sure, he wasn't going to sell me tires, but he was going to make a few dollars on a tire rotation and balance.
I left with a fake-smile, knowing I probably wouldn't be returning for any further services. They'd fixed my near-flat tire, I was happy about that. Anything else I needed could be taken care of at the car dealership. After all, my car was still under warranty.
Only, a few days later, a loud clunking noise came from the front tires and my car shook badly when I drove. This was not what I needed! I was leaving for vacation the next day and I was pressed for time.
So, wanting to avoid the extra miles to the car dealership, I returned to the tire dealer.
While there the second time I mentioned the shimmying and the warped/broken belts on my tires - again. Another repairman did a thorough inspection, including balancing and rotating my tires, and told me that there was nothing wrong with my tires - no warped or broken belts.
Huh. Strange. That was the second time at this tire shop I'd heard that. Were they telling the truth? If they were, then not only had the car dealership mislead me, but the tire shop could have made a nice sale, encouraging me to replace perfectly good tires.
How would I have known any different?
As I waited for my vehicle to be ready, and the accompanying bill, a young pregnant woman (who looked ready to burst) walked in. She carried a two year old boy with downs syndrome. The mother showered her son with kisses as he batted at her face playfully. We had a friendly chat and I was mindful not to feel sorry for her. But sensing my pity, she smiled and said, "I take him for therapy. He's not talking, but he's making lots of sounds now." I smiled. She added, "I just love him so much. He's an awesome kid."
I knew she was telling the truth.
A moment later the young man who had helped me, the one who had been so honest, walked in from the garage and kissed the pregnant woman on the cheek.
My heart filled near to bursting. This young man, with a very pregnant wife and a son with disabilities, could have benefitted from lying. It would have given him some extra money. Much needed money to help pay for some of his son's therapy. Or perhaps even doctor and hospital bills, or extra expenses with a new baby. But he chose to be honest. He could have made money selling me tires I didn't need so he could fulfill his financial burdens. But he chose a higher path.
Quickly turning away as tears flooded my eyes, I pretended to read a book, so they wouldn't see the sudden emotion that had come over me. It wasn't pity I felt, not for them, anyway. I felt sorrow for judging, for not trusting. But mostly I felt joy. Joy for them and their beautiful happiness.
The young man handed me my car keys with a smile and instructions to have a nice day.
"What's the bill?" I asked, reaching for paperwork.
"There is none," he said with a smile.
"No. There has to be a bill."
"Your tires have been rotated and balanced. Two tires were off pretty bad, but you shouldn't have anymore problems with your vehicle. There's no charge for today."
"No charge?" I asked in disbelief.
Another customer butted in. "Lady, hightail it! Don't question them, take the free service and get outta here, quick!"
I laughed, then turned toward the young man, "But you need to be paid for your time."
Another smile. "Have a nice day."
Awestruck, I left, holding back more tears which begged to rain down my cheeks. Not only were they a beautiful family, but they were beautiful people.
I hopped in my car, satisfied and content with the knowledge that there are still good people in this world.
And for the first time in months, I drove home in a car that didn't shimmy.