My almost-fifteen-year-old car got itself through its MOT on the second attempt, with a little work between the two tests. It had failed on emissions. The oxygen sensor, apparently. I guess that senses the oxygen, or something. I have no idea why.
The mechanic said that the offending sensor had never been changed in the fourteen years that car has been driven. They had trouble getting it off, and had to re-thread the manifold afterwards. Right now, despite having the car back home, I have no idea how much that work cost.
“How much do I owe you?” I asked. He had not yet made up the bill: a process that involves his listing of the labour and parts, and his wife doing the sums and sealing the secret amount into a tiny brown envelope.
I told him I might not get back to him until Monday (this was Thursday). He was perfectly happy with that, and added that if he didn’t see me next week, that I should have a “nice time”. There was no explicit mention of Christmas, but I expect (and hope) that is what he meant. He also gave me a 2015 pocket calendar to organise the entire year ahead. It even has a tiny pen slipped into the spine. And it smells of vinyl. And engine.
So there’s a chance that I he will not get paid for the repairs until next year. And by the time he gets around to paying the cheque into the bank, maybe not until February.
I suspect, though, that my natural need to ensure I am all paid up will win through and I will make a point of getting up there in the morning. But it is a joy to be dealing with such trusting people.
That trust runs both ways. Over the past few years, he has done only the work that was necessary to be done, nothing more, even when others have told me that something “needs” doing.
For the first time in my life since owning a car, I don’t spend a moment worrying about handing it over to have work done.