Trust Issues

Whew.

Had a good experience taking my car in for some service this weekend. I can’t say I like taking my car in y’all, because, for real, I got trust issues. I’m not sure what came first: me being handy or me being handy because I don’t trust mechanics. But taking my car in, this weekend, I realized that almost anyone (especially females or somebody they think they’ll be able to take advantage of by profiling) needs to be able to talk intelligently about what’s wrong with their car. You can get their in different ways: meticulous records, knowing who and what’s been done (yada, yada), but if they smell blood in the water, the shop may take you for a ride.

Me? I’ve been trying to unseat some CO2 sensors that are so far up-under the car, that I could kill my Saturday doing it myself or take it to a local muffler shop and have them do it. I figure they must do five or ten of these a week. And doing this kinda stuff in your garage, no lift ain’t fun. Plus, I broke the tool I was using trying to unseat it a couple of weeks beforehand. I just figured it was worth the ride, knowing specifically what I needed done.

As much as I love my Saturday, I committed to this mission even after the guy told me that he couldn’t promise when it would get looked at. He started off saying around 3pm, when I went in there at 10am. (Apparently, they had a great coupon out there for oil changes, the guy admitted). Well, they were curious and I was able to speak pretty intelligently about the issue–I pulled engine codes and knew the sensors needed changing, described the ensuing symptoms, etc.

So, all in all I end up waiting about an hour, and after that having been only charged the minimum for an hour’s labor (I got the replacement on eBay), it was ready to go. Given the quick service and the straight talk about what I needed to do next (they pulled codes too), I did something the shop didn’t expect: went to the local liquor store and bought the shop a pack of beer — and not some swill!!

They didn’t expect that, but it’s fairly easy to pay tribute to mechanics who did me a solid by taking care of this quickly and cleanly. Much of their effort is under-appreciated.

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“It is sad that so many creations today are just like the rest. It is why Porsche must remain independent. Without independence, without the freedom to try new ideas, the world will not move ahead, but live in fear of its own potential. … Committees lead to creations that have no soul, no identity. This is why no Porsche will ever be created by a committee, but a handful of people inside these walls who know what a Porsche is.”
— Dr. F. Porsche

Porsche356
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I was in a meeting where a CEO lamented that getting things through her board is difficult—can’t remember the exact characterization. Suffice to say, allowing a board to be a board is a tricky thing. Clearly there are times when a board helps vet an organization’s process, but there are other times when in the process of creation a board is best poised to allow the process to happen in the hands of the creators. A book I read called The Visionary’s Handbook suggests that even in the big company, certain divisions should be treated as if they were very small, giving entrepreneurial power to this force of creation. This type of independence is rare, even in the automotive world.

Unless you’re Porsche.

And with that I thought back to one of my most cherished quotations from what has become somewhat of a design hero for me, the patron of Porsche. I don’t know when exactly this was said, but one things for sure, anytime through the end of World War II, the amalgamation of car companies was rampant. This process saw the end of many storied brands. But for some there was the time to double down and work to come up with that next big thing.

The 356 was one such number. A roadster prelude to my favorite car, the 911, this car had the simplicity of design and a sheer level of enjoyment to see. And if driving a Karmann Ghia is half the experience—probably half the engine—then it must have really been something.