By Andrea Lawful Sanders
I am very particular about who services my car, affectionately known as the “diva mobile,” because she is a part of my daily existence. Her oil is changed every 3,000 miles like clockwork, and if she even hints at needing maintenance, I am all over it.
As a direct result, she continues to serve me well. A few years ago, I switched mechanics to one that was closer to my home, and the owner of the shop has since serviced my sons’ and husband’s cars.
The other day, I stopped in to get the inspection done, and after telling one of his mechanics to drive me home with the offer to drop the car off later at my convenience, I asked the owner to let me know what the cost would be after the inspection was done.
He said $50.
I thought he misheard me, so I asked again, and he repeated the number.
So I stated the obvious — he had no idea if my car would need parts, an oil change, etc, so HOW was he charging me that little, sight unseen?
His answer blew me away.
He began telling me this story of how he spent $500,000 on his son for several colleges. He fixed everything his son did wrong and never held him accountable.
The next few years were hell, and he was stumped about what he could have done differently with his child, who has only quite recently begun to turn his life around.
When he first met one of my sons as he dropped off his car to be serviced, he told my child he would call me with the bill when he was finished.
That son of mine told him with a polite smile that he was responsible for his bill and the mechanic’s mouth dropped in shock!
My sons were paying to have their cars maintained. Both were in college, both graduated on time, and he marveled, given his own backdrop, which I knew nothing about.
When he asked me a few times how was I able to get my sons to this place of responsibility, I told him my standards were high for them, and that they had to learn accountability.
While dad and I paid college tuition, and room and board, they were responsible for small bills like water, and electric, but cable was a luxury I refused to touch. If their car maintenance bill was over $300, we would chip in to help defray the costs until they graduated from college.
After that, they were financially on their own. That was a purposeful move on my end, ensuring that they would be able to work through challenges without expecting us to solve problems they could handle on their own with some effort.
What we got as a result, were self-sustaining adults that would benefit society. When things get truly difficult, we will help where needed.
The mechanic looked at me as I spoke and marveled, but I told him, we get from our children what we expect from them.
It was also important that they practiced good manners wherever they went in life. That alone has opened all kinds of doors that may have otherwise remained closed.
Aside from how I raised my sons, the mechanic said there were days when he was feeling low and seeing my smiling face made it all okay.
It was at that point he decided without saying a word, that no matter what my car needed done, he would cover the majority of the costs, and THAT is why my bill was $50 or free.
To say that I was stunned, was an understatement.
He is a stark reminder that what we do never returns to us void. Our daily actions either inspires those we meet, or offend. It costs absolutely nothing to treat those around us with dignity, because karma is real, and she always returns with a litter of puppies. Our behaviors dictate whether she floats in like a butterfly or bites like a beast.
Every time our mechanic sees my husband, whom he has known for decades, he laughs and tells him, “You are a lucky, lucky man! Your wife is very nice to everyone she meets!”
My husband smiles and agrees, and while I had no idea the mechanic was paying such attention to my family, I remain steeped in gratitude that we unintentionally inspired someone by simply being who we were.
The karma that blew back my way, was a gentle butterfly filled with goodness and light.
The views, thoughts, and opinions expressed in the article belong solely to the author, and not necessarily to the author’s employer, The Philadelphia Sunday SUN, the author’s organization, committee or other group or individual.