No Charge

The following (adapted) dialogue occurred in the small office of a transmission business in the Egg Harbor, New Jersey a few weeks ago. PM stands for the customer, a Presbyterian minister who was on vacation but highly concerned that the transmission on his SUV was about to go belly up on him. The next day he had to get home, two hours away. O stands for the owner of the transmission. An hour before this conversation, the PM called the office to see if he could bring his car to the shop. The O readily agreed. “Just come by when you can,” the O said on the phone, “and we’ll take a look.”

PM:     (To the O): Hi, I called you about my SUV.

 O:        Good morning! I’ll be right with you. (O completes a conversation with another customer who was there when the PM walked in. Two minutes later he turns back the PM.) Let’s take a look.

 PM:     Thank you so much. I noticed that the car started running roughly a few days ago. It’s especially rough around 25 to 30 miles per hour.

 O:        (Listening) I’ll have one of my guys run a diagnostic test and then I’ll have him take the car out for ride. (A mechanic appears in about a minute. He is a friendly and helpful as the owner. Hmm . . . is there a correlation: good owner, good employee?)

 M (Mechanic):   Tell me what’s going on? (PM tells him the same story and the M wheels out his machine to run the test. He comes back with a piece of paper and shows to the owner. PM is nervous because this could be a big problem that requires big bucks to fix. PM doesn’t think he’ll have to pay these guys big bucks, but he doesn’t know much about cars. His 16-year-old son does, but not the PM. PM is nervous and anxious, even though he’s been in the shop less than ten minutes and has been treated like their best customer from the second he opened the door of the shop.)

O:        (After looking at the paper) We aren’t seeing anything major here. You have a couple of smaller issues . . . (O tells the PM what the small problems are, but PM doesn’t understand much of what he says. PM does get that doesn’t need a new transmission and for this he is grateful and much less anxious than he was 30 seconds ago.)

 PM:     Do you think I can get the car home tomorrow?

 O & M: Sure! Take your time but you should be fine. (M takes the keys to the car and takes the SUV for a test drive. He’s back in about ten minutes. While gone, the PM and the O talk about the O drive from Burlington to Egg Harbor and the PM tells the O that his wife has about the same distance—50 miles—drive to her job teaching at Rowan University. O and PM agree that both commutes are long drives. The M returns and says that the car is running well. M assures PM that he’ll be OK. M is as decent a prophet as he is a mechanic. Sure enough, there are no problems on the way home the next day. PM shakes the hand of the M and thanks him.)

 PM (to the O)  How much do I owe you?

 O:        No charge. I’m glad we could be of help. (PM shakes his hands and sincerely thanks him and then God for people who show such grace without even realizing they’re doing it.)