Update on 12/23: My friend wanted me to let my readers know that she has since found a great BMW mechanic in San Diego, and has been quite pleased. For anyone else interested they can be found at http://sandiegobmwrepair.com.
So there we were, four of us driving through a rural region of Eastern Washington in my friend’s BMW, on our way to a relaxing weekend cabin getaway when tragedy hits. The car suddenly jerks and the power steering is gone. Turns out the serpentine belt had snapped. Granted, a pretty minor problem mechanically, but it put my friend into a fairly bad mood as she frequently complained that getting the very smallest of repairs done to the car had apparently been a living hell for her. The fact that we passed a mechanic only a mile or so back didn’t raise her skeptical spirits, but being that none of us were mechanically inclined and couldn’t even get a bar of cell service, we all decided to risk it and try to make it back to him.
We slowly pull up on an overgrown drive to a small metal shack surrounded by about 40 or 50 abandoned looking cars littering the place. The mechanic who welcomed us was… a character. If you’ve ever seen the movie U-Turn, he was the exact same mechanic played by Billy Bob. The gentleman slowly and painfully rose out of his chair to greet us. He wore a set of cracked and taped together spectacles that were thicker than the bottoms of shot glasses, which were covered in grease to the point that he kept calling the owner of the car “Sir” even though she was an attractive girl with the voice to match.
While the owner talked to the mechanic we looked around the place a little. We first went to pet a dog lying nearby that perfectly matched his owner. His movements were also slow and painful, he was just as filthy and matted, but he seemed to have a few more teeth and slightly better eyesight. Next we looked at the cars in the yard, most of which were rusting or missing tires or windows. Then someone noticed that none of the cars were any younger than about 30 years. This particular revelation made the three of us start to feel somewhat uncomfortable so we went back over to the conversing mechanic and owner who had just walked over to the car.
We walked up right as the mechanic scrunched up his nose, slightly tilted his head, spit a huge wad of chew on the ground and said, “What kind of car is it?”
The owner replies promptly, “a BMW.”
The slightly more confused mechanic says, “A BM-Wha?”
Then my slightly concerned friends answers with, “W. It’s a BMW.”
Again he says, “a BM-Wha?”
Then all of us respond with, “It’s a BMW!” It’s at this point that everyone became worried.
The mechanic proceeds to pop the hood and fumble around with the engine and eventually finds the belt. Then he says, let me make a phone call. Once he was out of earshot we started trying to figure out if we should risk using him, or try to find an easy escape from the situation, hopefully causing as little damage to the car as possible. Fortunately he made our minds up for us. He walks over and says, “I can order the belt, it’ll take two weeks.” We politely thanked him for his time and hurried into the car and left. Thankfully, there was a town not too much farther we were able to make it to and call a tow truck.
Moral of the story?…have more appreciation and patience for mechanics that are working on your car, no matter how frustrating their process can be because if you’re dealing with a mechanic who’s at least heard of BMW then you’re definitely pointed in the right direction. Even better, plan on taking your car in for some preventative BMW service before a long road trip!
The event certainly realigned my friend’s perceptions of mechanics. She no longer fears taking her car in, she’s just happy they know what a BMW is to start with.