I’ve never viewed a question as a command, well with a few exceptions as in the Navy when the Commanding Officer would ask me; “Senior Chief, that project will be done by Friday, won’t it? Or my wife asking me; “Paul, you will be back home by supper, won’t you? Well I guess questions for the most part can be commands.
Here in the Philippines I’ve been careful about asking questions, as I’ve found that a question asked may sometimes throw a wrench into the middle of the works.
Last week on Wednesday I took Mayang (Mrs. Thompson) into town to run a few errands and drop my car at the shop for general maintenance, as in an Oil Change, Cooling system flush, and Tune-up. As I pulled into the bay at the shop, Kuya Greg came over to the car to greet us along with our regular mechanic. The young man took the keys and popped the hood and started the car while I explained the work I needed to have done to it. The New Old Honda, fired right up but I noticed it was vibrating in an odd way, so I asked him to drop it in to gear and the engine shuttered and move backwards a half an inch.
Kuya Greg and I both signaled the mechanic to shut it off, and I looked towards Greg and said; “Looks like a broken engine mount!” Nodding heads and the mechanic was rapidly scratching his head, asked me how I knew that? I smiled and said; “This ain’t my first Rodeo.” The head scratching became more energetic. But we all agreed that, that indeed was the problem.
Kuya Greg wrote up the work invoice, and we were off to see Lolet the parts lady, to see if the mount was available. Oh come on, did you think I thought it was? I knew it had to be ordered from San Fernando Pampanga. My wife was talking to Lolet as and over the years they had become friends, So now comes the part about the “ASKING OF THE QUESTION”, Not thinking about the problem I would be causing, I foolishly turned and asked Lolet; “What does the motor mount cost? I then went back outside and left Mayang to get the answer for me. Oh by all that’s holy, when in my life will I stop rushing head long into situations, and just stop one time to figure out the ramifications, before I do these things!
Once in awhile I remember where I am and also remember how things can quickly go awry. I quickly go back in and found just what I thought was going to happen, had happened. Mayang and Lolet were discussing how they would talk or text that after noon and get me the price of the Engine mount. No the engine mount would not be ordered until foolish Paul had the price and approved the purchase of said item.
I quickly intervened and to not undermine either of the ladies added the caveat to Lolet; “”Lolet no matter what the cost is, order it anyway, as the car really needs it to run.” Or the part would have one more day on the shelf waiting for my price approval. That made sense to both the ladies, and reminded me once more, to be very careful when I ask any question.
The following day the phone rang, and I’m informed that the other two engine mounts are very much worn also, and should be replaced with the broken one. Now for 16 years Kuya Greg and the guys have been servicing my cars. Not once have they ever steered me wrong, so I told them to replace them all. By the way I still haven’t received the price quote for the first one, so I was wise to order it anyway. The car will remain in their able care for the next couple of days, but I had no plans to go anywhere so that’s fine with me.
While writing this I got to wondering what a 1996 Honda Civic was worth (VTI engine w/Auto/Trans) and of course great air. And to my surprise listed in sulit ph.com they had over a hundred listed 90% with manual Trans for between 194,000 to 300,000 pesos. Which means my New Old Honda is so valuable I can’t afford to not fix it. Plus the fact that Mayang likes the car so much she doesn’t want to sell it. Last year I had a dream about a new car, but alas it is nothing but a dream.
I just called the shop at 12:30 Friday, and yes my car is done, but it’s not ready for pick-up today. It seems that Lolet is not working today and since she’s the parts lady, she’s the only one who can figure the bill. So I asked to speak to the big boss, who came on the line and parroted the same line to me. So I asked if he had a date tonight and needed to borrow a car. Then I proposed another question, similar to the one that started this sorry; “Sir, if Lolet is not there, why in heavens name did you bother to open today? If a customer came in today to buy a tire, they couldn’t pay until Saturday? What would happen to your business, if God forbid, Lolet never came back?
But it was explained that because my parts came from out-of-town, only Lolet knew the price. I’ll assumed the manager had no idea where or how parts got to his shop, until I realized that he was the boss’s son. I had that Edison moment, when the light bulb went off, and I remembered talking to him in the past. “Okay fine, I’ll see you guys early Saturday morning!” I said and hung up. Mayang asked me about the car, and I just smiled and said; “Honey-Ko, it’s not ready yet!” Why you might ask did I let it slide? Because I had no plan to go anywhere that Friday and Saturday was good enough for me, so why get upset and cause a ruckus? Besides I knew I wouldn’t win.
Saturday morning in the AM, I rode a Brown Jeepney to town, walked across the market and had a Big Breakfast at MacDo’s, then I went out the back door and over to the Victory Liner Station, where I caught a Blue Jeepney to Garbes Dion’s Good-Year repair shop, I had a cup of instant coffee in the back with Kuya Greg and the boys while Lolet worked up my bill. Greg looked at me and tried to apologize, but I held up my hand, and started laughing, at that time Greg and the boys joined in. They had been dealing with the boss’s son, far more than me, and I could feel their pain. Greg told the guys in Tagalog that he had never seen me lose my temper, and that they should run if I ever do.
I got the New Old Honda back, now it’s running like a Swiss watch again, or maybe like a Seiko watch I should have said, The sun is shining, I’m in a great mood, and the world is still spinning on its axis at just over 1000 miles per hour at the Equator. I’ll go up the mountain at a lot less speed than that; I’ll park the car in my carport, call a buddy and have a few beers this afternoon. It truly is more fun, in the Philippines. It’s our job to keep it that way!