When I turned the big 4-0 last August I decided it was time to buy a poor man’s Escalade, a Volkswagen Jetta. I got a great deal at a local dealership and was cruising around D-town in my ride in quasi-semi style. This was as good as it gets for an evangelist: a car cool enough to retain my street cred (like I have a lot of that) and cheap enough not to make donors whisper.
Then something happened a few days ago. My car sputtered to a stop in a parking lot of where else? Starbucks! I called a tow truck and had my brand new sweet ride piggybacked to the VW dealer where I purchased it.
Oh the shame of it, my still shiny car being carted off the field on a great big stretcher after that automobile equivalent of breaking its leg or pulling a hamstring.
Little did I know that it was more like a heart attack.
I got the phone call that there was some bad news about my Jetta, the engine was toast. It looked as if the culprit was the wrong kind of oil (changed by one of those dime a dozen road side oil change places that shall go unnamed…suffice it to say that I had a monkey of a time removing the grease I got on my oven last night from cooking.)
Worse news yet…because it was the wrong kind of Jetta oil, it was NOT under warranty. There was no way that Volkswagen was going to pay for a car’s blown engine when the wrong kind of oil was put in. I didn’t try to argue with him. I just listened to the dire diagnosis and tried not to blow a gasket myself.
As the nice VW technician gently broke the news to me and listed what needed to be replaced the only sounds I could hear in my brain was “Cha-ching! Cha-ching! Cha-ching!” As the sounds of on old timey cash register reverberated in my cavernous cranium I calculated the damage to hover around the 10K mark.
Thoughts of trying to wrangle 10K out of a roadside oil franchise depressed me. I just imagined this gnarled and narly mechanic dressed up in a suit making a case to the judge,
“So you see your honor, the Jetta is high maintenance. Why can’t it take the same kind of oil as all the other cars out there? I wash my hands (while refusing to clean my nails) of this responsibility.”
All the while I imagine a judge who smiles and nods, having worked his way through law school at one of these lube joints.
So I just prayed. In absolute frustration I called out to God and asked him to intervene miraculously.
About an hour after this phone call the VW technician (whatever happened to the term “mechanic“?) called again. He told me that he had been trying to persuade VW to cover the costs of the engine (even though it wasn’t their fault) and they finally agreed.
Who do I give the credit to? A feisty technician who fought for me, a corporation willing to “lose” so that their customer could win and God who answers prayer!
What are the lessons I learned?
It pays to be nice. Don’t yell at the guy who cooks your food. He could spit in it. If I had been mean to the VW technician because he was the bearer of bad news I don’t think he would have fought so hard to get corporate to foot the bill.
Pray. Pray for everything all the time and expect God to answer. Even when he says “no” it’s because he wants to say “yes” to a deeper spiritual need that we have. His answer is always best and every prayer offered out of a pure heart is embraced by Him.
And, finally, buy a Jetta…just make sure you take it to the dealer to get the oil changed.