Thursday, August 23, 2012

He did what?

I know now as I did then that it was cliche, but soon after my first marriage ended I bought an old, ill used BMW 2002 (tii for the purists), much like the one in the photo above. I loved that car in spite of its semi-frequent catastrophic and always ill timed break downs.

One momentous failure occurred while the kids and I were in Chicago, 5 PM on Michigan Avenue, on the Friday of a long July 4th weekend. Chicago's finest were not amused, especially when we didn't wait for the tow truck. We simply left a note on the front seat for the garage owner to call us, we'd work the details out later. And we did. The kids and I flew home.

Saturday morning I called John, my regular BMW 2002 fixer, asking if he knew of his counterpart in Chicago. After a brief discussion about what happened, where and why, he told me not to worry, he'd take care of it. Late Sunday evening the car was resting comfortably at home, in my garage. John visualized what happened, grabbed the needed parts off the shelf along with his toolbox, rode the train to Chicago, replaced the clutch and transmission in a gas station lot and drove the car home. How's that for service?

A few weeks ago I purchased my second BMW, but have been too busy to even wash the beast, but have mentally been preparing its fixit list. Yesterday morning I drove across town to visit a BMW wrenchmen. Walking into an immaculate, modern, well lit work space, the owner, my old buddy John, greeted me. I had not seen him in 25 years.

I led with, you may not remember my name but here's my story and I reminded him of his trip to Chicago. Quickly, we were once again bosom buddies, introducing me to the shop, relaying to his mechanics that I was "the guy" "the guy from Chicago". With evident pride he showed me around the shop, told of his second location, then said something I hope to never forget.

He said, "Toad, a young guy starting a business has to prove himself every day. That trip to Chicago was a necessary step to prove to myself that I had what it takes to succeed. Thank you for making my business happen." That's how you build customer loyalty. Work, from John's list, begins shortly after Labor Day.



GP said...


Shelley said...

Finding a good, honest mechanic is one of the big challenges when you move to a new state / country. Right up there with finding a good hairdresser. I haven't really managed either since leaving OKC. RIP J.C. Bannister, though his garage still trades under his name he died very young. Isn't that what they say about good folks?

Anonymous said...

Toad, I am on my 3rd BMW and you're going to be fine. That 325i is going to last quite a long time. My '88 325 lasted as a daily driver to 245K miles without needing anything more than basic maintenance. Still going strong. Sold it to a retired BMW mechanic for use as his daily driver. Absolutely wonderful cars.

Anonymous said...

I was just sharing that story with someone not too long ago. I believe it was a planes, trains, boats & automobiles day. :)
I guess the apple doesn't fall far. I absolutely love my BMW. Can't imagine driving anything else. Love ya! - KT

Anonymous said...

I just want to cry. That story. Left a note on the seat. John. I mean. He got on the train. Good God in Heaven, I'll just cry, words ain't comin out right.


David said...

Neither of you had any way of knowing you'd meet again all these years later, but the fact that he did what he did for you, and surely many others, is why he's in business now when you need him again.

There's so much good in the world, and I needed the reminder.

David said...

Also, get that thing polished up, drop the top, and take Mrs. T out!

Old Polo said...

First BMW was a 2002 Alpina I bought in Germany. It spent some time on tracks around Europe. 2nd was a 3.0S. Both great cars. You will do well I'm sure my friend, especially with your new/old mechanic. a tii eh?