I still couldn’t believe our car wasn’t back yet. The local auto shop owner shrugged and shook his head.
“Sorry Kevin, but I’m going to have to lock up. I don’t want you to have to wait in the rain either, so I’m happy to give you a ride home. You don’t live far, right?”
I stood right in the front of the garage watching the rain come down and the street beyond for our car to magically appear.
“Can’t you call him? I mean, he is driving my car around to test the heater, right? Doesn’t he have a cell phone?”
I turned back to look at the owner; his tired old face betrayed both annoyance and helplessness.
“No, he doesn’t. One of the last people in the county who doesn’t have one actually.”
Wait, what? He’s driving around in our car without a frickin’ cell phone?
“Wow. I’ve got to have our car back tomorrow. We’re going over to San Jose and that’s the car we want to drive.”
“I promise you’ll get it tomorrow. He always over-diagnoses, but I’ll leave him a note and he’ll call you tomorrow. I promise. I’m really sorry.”
I went back to watching the rain and the street, every pair of headlights passing like an unfulfilled Christmas wish.
“All right. You can give me a ride home. I hope he finds what’s wrong with the heater. But you still didn’t find any leaks where the rainwater might be getting in the car, right?”
“No, I didn’t find any leaks. Again, sorry.”
As the owner dropped me off, I couldn’t get the over-diagnosing out of my head.
The next morning I discovered that the other mechanic, the one who over-diagnoses and who was checking our heater by driving our car around, had called and left me a message about actually fixing our heater, and that we could get our car back if we were available for the next hour – the previous night, of course.
Which we weren’t. But there was no indication that he’d read the note that the owner had left him either. That frustrated me further. After I checked my voice mail, I left the shop my own message insisting that we’d come get the car no matter what and deal with the repair later.
Which we did. And then the mechanic called me late that morning and I finally got to talk with him live. He had gone to the shop after all to wait for us. What he told me changed everything I had assumed from the moment of dropping off our car the day before, and even what I thought I believed before and after the TalentCulture #TChat Show with Patti Johnson discussing making waves for positive organizational change that drive stellar customer service and better business outcomes, however incremental or monumental.
Yes, he took our car out to test the heater and didn’t bring it back until hours after they closed, but he decided to take it to his house to hook up his own laptop, log in to the manufacturer’s site and run his own diagnostic tests. Why he couldn’t do that at the shop, I didn’t ask, but it doesn’t matter now anyway. Not only did he fix the heater without needing any new parts or tearing our dash apart, he also discovered where the leak was and how to fix it, something the owner said couldn’t be done.
It was a wave-making Christmas miracle, this over-diagnosing, to make a difference for one customer, one that will end up saving us hundreds if not thousands of dollars fixing two problems instead of just one, one that will keep us bringing our cars back to our little local auto mechanic shop down the street, rain or shine.
Not the big-business dramatics that we’ve come to expect and read about, but it’s still wave-making that I’m sure keeps their customers coming back year round.
Happy Holidays, Kids!