Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Mechanic experience

Not all run-ins with mechanics here in Mexico (or anywhere for that matter) are positive experiences. One that wasn't happened a couple of months ago, when, after getting my oil changed, I asked a junior mechanic if he could look at my parking brake, which was stuck. "Sure, that's easy" he assured me. Two days later and a mangled parking brake mechanism and hacksaw-ed off cable, I was informed that they couldn't complete the job because the part was unavailable in Mexico.

To summarize, I finally brought a cable down with me from the U.S. in March, and after several attempts finally took it to my good friend Mardonio. Mardonio is a good friend, even though I hardly know him. He works on big, diesel engines. He has two or three of them in the garage area of his house. There are parts and tools everywhere. And engine grease. His three sons help him.

I went on Monday to see if he could replace my brake cable and, while he was at it, give the van a tune-up. Mardonio worked in the U.S. for some years, and is remarkably knowledgeable about...well, just about anything car-wise. Sort of reminds me of Jeff Arnold, CAM's maintenance man. He has a similar girth too! I met Mardonio at church, of all places. He brought his kids to a music class once. Two of his boys play accordion and the drums Rachero and Cumbia style. Not my kind of music, but they play it remarkably well. He called for his wife to get me a cup of coffee. A guy brought a pick-up to get fixed. Mardonio's 10 year old grabbed some tools and slid under the truck, starting to un-bolt whatever. Not that's discipleship!

I brought the van back yesterday and left it for the afternoon. When I went back, Mardonio explained to me in detail with cable in hand that the cable I had purchased was actually for the back of the van, the one that connected to the wheel, not the brake pedal. He explained that I needed new spark plug cables, but I should buy them in the U.S. and not here, because they were much better there. I would need to order the right cable, and he would replace it.

While I was there yesterday, Armando stopped by. Armando is a school teacher who attended ESL classes for a while. Armando lives close to Mardonio. I asked him if he needed his car fixed. "No, I just stopped by to say hi." Now, who stops by to greet mechanics? Says something about this culture, and something very positive about Armando and Mardonio.

So after a lesson in auto mechanics, and receiving a lot of good advice about everything from filters to brakes, Mardonio tells me how much I owe him. I asked a friend here, Samuel, how much he thought Mardonio might have charged me (tuning up an Astro with its cramped motor space isn't easy). He said, oh, probably 1500 pesos (about $120). Even Samuel was amazed when I told him that Mardonio charged me...100 pesos, or about $7. You might be amazed too.

Mardonio told me that this was about friendship, that he makes his money fixing big diesel engines. So I asked him that if my whole motor blew up, would that be business for him...and he laughed and said yes. I gave him 150 pesos. I know, I'm generous!

I never cease to be amazed at the people God allows me to meet. These people do not yet know our Lord, yet in many ways they act like the do. What a rebuke to those of us who do know God, and act like we don't. Pray for Mardonio and Armando. Pray for me.

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