10/2/00 - Wells, Maine
Monday, I was towed by National Wrecker to the only service station that could start working on my engine sometime later that week. Bob at Bob's Automotive in York wouldn't be able to start for at least two weeks. Earlier in the morning, I sat with Bob's wife for a while, talking about the Internet.
"I don't trust that Internet," she said, and proceeded to tell me about several murders and attacks that had happened because of people meeting on the Internet. "I heard there were women found in big trash cans found in California. Several women." she told me, suspecting that the Internet was to blame.
"Also, my daughter's car was stolen from the Shop 'n Save parking lot where she worked one night," she continued, "It could have been because her information was on the Internet." As an aside she mentioned it could also be someone at work who may not have liked her.
"And another time, our 'American Online' account was frozen, and when my daughter called, she found out someone had stolen her name and used it to send pornographic emails to other people. 'American Online' found out and froze our account."
I recommended that she read my first book ("Cybergrrl: A Woman's Guide to the World Wide Web" and told her it was filled with stories about women who were using the Internet for all sorts of good things. Then I gave her a galley of my upcoming book ("Cybergrrl @ Work") for her daughter who did use the Internet and who was trying to figure out how to use it to make money because she was had an acute back problem which prevented her from working a regular job. I felt like I was on a mission.
As I was getting ready to climb into the tow truck, she came over to me and warned me, "Watch out if the garage can take you right away. If they don't have a lot of work and can start work right now, there's a reason for it." I thanked her for her help, waved to Bob and was on my way to Brown's Texaco in Wells, Maine.
We pulled into Brown's, and Bruce Brown, the owner, assessed the situation, then began explaining to me what he was going to do. "We'll order a rebuilt engine from a big company like the Engine Connection or we'll order a used engine..."
"What's the difference between a..." I started to ask.
"I'm explaining everything to you. You gotta let me explain." he said in a gruff voice, and started his explanation over again. Never interrupt a mechanic.
Turns out a rebuilt is just that - an old engine that has been taken apart, had the critical parts replaced, and rebuilt, while a used engine is something out of a car in a junkyard that is a lot cheaper, still works, but isn't guaranteed. We decided on the rebuilt with the warranty.
"I should have the engine by Thursday, could possibly start working on it by Friday and have it done for you next Thursday or Friday." he told me and watched my face fall. "If I get it sooner, I can start on it sooner. But I don't want to promise you sooner and have it be later." Oh yes, the underpromise and overdeliver theory.
He brought me to the bank where I proceed to draw out as much cash as I could advance off of my credit cards, then to the ATM machine where I extracted the last of my cash from my account, just to cover the deposit. While in the bank, I had told the women behind the counter my predicament. "You're not going to Brown's, are you? He's too expensive."
"I have no choice," I explained, feeling my heart sink. "It's not like I can be towed all around town."
They shook their head in sympathy and reiterated the fact that he overcharges, and that everyone in town knows it.
Trying to get on Bruce's good side, or trying to get a better negotiating position, I told him what was said in the bank when I returned to his truck. "Who said that? They did say that? Well, that's not true, not true at all." he said and continued to defend his prices and his personal guarantee as we drove down the road.
Next he brought me to the closest motel that allowed dogs. While the sign read $35 and up for rooms with kitchenettes, my little room cost $51 without a kitchenette and would go up to $65 on Friday and $95 on Saturday and Sunday because of Columbus Day.
When I told this to Bruce Brown, he shook his head, saying how he couldn't believe how others could make their prices go up like that, how his prices always remain the same. "Tell you what. I'll make sure that no matter what, the RV is ready enough so on Friday you can camp at my garage. I'll hook up water and electric for you so you don't have to pay those prices."
Somehow, I had found a soft spot in rough, old Bruce Brown. I was finding that as a female, solo, you had to find the mechanic's soft spot so they let their guard down and didn't totally rip you off. If I had stayed at Bob's Automotive, I knew he had twin daughters, and could appeal to the father in him. With Bruce Brown, he had an integrity thing - if you looked up to him and appreciated his "integrity," he'd bend over backwards to help you.
After settling into the room, decided to ride my bike everywhere since everything was essentially along a 2 mile strip of US 1. Rode to the Wine and Cheese shop and bought two beers for later. The man behind the counter tried to convince me to return the next afternoon to meet his son who he said all the girls in town were after. He was supposedly a triathlete with big blue eyes, "incredibly adorable," as his father said.
I told him about my predicament, and he said, "Bruce Brown - great guy. Really good guy. Couldn't ask for a better mechanic." Hmmmmm.
Rode to the Fresh Lobster place and bought a crab roll and clam chowder, and picked up a delivery menu for a nearby pizza place. Ah! Delivery! Rode to Brown's Texaco to check on things. "The engine will be here tomorrow." said Bruce Brown. Already? Overdelivery.
Rode my bike to the Shop 'N Save, over the biggest hill in town. Feeling quite the athlete. Bought basic groceries including a pre-cooked rotisserie chicken, always a favorite with the Berts. Rode back over the biggest hill in town. Feeling quite pathetic and weak. Rode to Brown's Texaco to check on things again. His mechanic was pulling apart front of the RV.
Returned to the motel to find a note on my door. Complaints from the neighbors about the Berts barking non-stop. Those dirty rats. Spoiled mama's boys. Oh, right, that's my fault. Besides themselves with glee to see me, I couldn't scold them for their whining, wicked ways.