Ode to the Mechanic

Random days throughout the past couple of weeks…

When you are a scooter owner there is no other relationship that is more important than the one between you and your mechanic. With very bad luck Steve (my HNST) and I have tried two times to get the registration papers for my scooter transferred into my name. The first time we ran out of time due to the DMV being very busy and having a closing time of 12 noon, and the second time we couldn’t finish filing the paperwork because there was a light out on my scooter so I failed my scooter inspection. Frustrated with all of this back and forth crap I finally had to do something I had been putting off: creating a relationship with a mechanic.

It has been suggested to me to find a mechanic I like and stay with him because that way they can know how often I come to get my oil changed and all that jazz. There is a mechanic shop that I drive past everyday on my way to and from home so I decided it was finally time to stop in and create a relationship, or “Guanxi” with the mechanic that runs the shop. (I will talk more about guanxi in a later post when I talk about how I have been trying to understand the concept and build relationships in my daily life through my limitations with Chinese.)

Now when I say relationship I do not mean a relationship where the end result will be a dating scenario, and I don’t mean a relationship where we are BestFriendsForever (and ever!). I am talking about a relationship that is based off of good ol’ respect between two people and faithful patronage to a business.

Now that I have finally established a patronage to this shop I have been there three times in two weeks. This guy is probably either really happy he has the business or is really annoyed that he has to deal with a foreigner that doesn’t know any “car lingo” in Chinese.

Visit #1

After being told to fix my light before I come back to the DMV I finally stopped at the mechanic’s shop. I drove up and showed him that my light doesn’t work. He changed the light for me in less than 5 minutes. Thankfully, the light was only burnt out and I just needed a new bulb. He pointed towards the door, but I didn’t want to just leave without giving the guy money so I asked “Duōshǎo qián?” (How much is it?), he replied, “30” in Chinese. I paid him and was on my way. The whole exchange cost 1USD! Owning a scooter has already proved to be significantly more easier to manage than a car.

Visit #2

I couldn’t remember where the bike shop, that I purchased my bicycle at, was located. I figured that the mechanic would have the same tools to tighten my handle bar so it would stop moving as a bike shop would. I drove up and showed him the problem, and he started tightening the handle. In the process he accidentally broke one of the brake handles. Figuring that I would have to fix that somewhere else I kind of was like well okay. Nope! He took the brake, signaled to wait, and hopped on his scooter and drove off. Not even 15 minutes passed before he returned with a new brake handle for my bike. He tightened everything up and sent me on my way. This 20 minute transaction was completely free!

Visit #3

One of the mirrors on my scooter came loose so I couldn’t even properly look at it. It is the left mirror too so it is pretty damn important to look at things like, I don’t know, oncoming traffic. I finally went in to get it fixed before I tried going to the DMV again. I drove up and showed him the problem. He tightened up the bolt on my mirror in like a minute and sent me off. This transaction was also completely free. Unless you count my lovely smile and very practiced foreigner shrug worth any amount of fiscal value.

As much as I wish all vehicles were self-fixers they are not. At least when I have any problems in the future I have a mechanic.