SHREWSBURY, Massachusetts – Upon coming home from a vacation we found that our Debit Card checking and savings accounts had been wiped out, done by a person or persons unknown from somewhere in Indonesia who had somehow gotten hold of our account number and password. My wife’s and my cards had not been lost and we’ve never given anyone that information, in fact we didn’t even use the cards while away so how it was done remains a mystery. Fortunately the bank is insured for such occurrences and the monies were quickly restored, but it was disconcerting to say the least and a pain in the neck to have our assets frozen for even a short period of time.
I mention this not as a warning to others or to bemoan my fate but rather due to something that happened shortly thereafter, an incident of a totally different nature. Needing some minor repair work done to my car not covered by insurance, I drove to a body shop that I had used once before, an out of the way place run by a guy who apparently works alone and doesn’t even advertise, a place I had been referred to by my auto mechanic. As I walked into the shop, the owner waved hello in recognition and I took him outside to show the damage. He looked at it, said he’d have to determine the best way to make the repair, and told me to bring the car in the following Tuesday. He said it’d take about a day to fix and gave me a best-guess estimate. That was it, no written appraisal, no dancing around, just a friendly wave and a handshake between two people of good will who trusted each other to deliver on a promise. I didn’t even remember his name nor did he remember mine, yet we had faith in each other’s honor. Sure enough he lived up to his word, and the actual cost was even lower than originally quoted.
Things like that happen all the time yet all you ever hear about are the horror stories of Ponzi schemes or embezzlement like the one I initially mentioned, sad tales of theft and dishonesty designed to frighten and make you want to hide in a closet or get an AK-47 for protection from the outside world.
Using the auto industry to prove my point, a business that enjoys a less than stellar reputation, I took my car to the local dealership not too long ago for its regular 3,000 mile oil and filter change, and when picking it up the driver’s door lock wouldn’t open. I told the service rep. about it and after some minutes of jiggling and playing around he finally got it unlocked, only to have it fail again a few days later. I went back to the dealer, showed him the problem and said that although the car was well past its warranty period, I felt it should be fixed at no charge since the problem occurred during the recent servicing at his facility. The service manager said they had done nothing to cause the problem but would investigate to determine what was wrong and then decide liability. Good luck I figured, but played along while being ready for combat.
After about an hour or so the manager came over to say the problem was found to be a corroded wire leading to the locking mechanism inside the door, it had been replaced, and although it was coincidental and not their fault I owed them nothing. A reputable car dealer, can you believe it? Believe it ‘cause it’s true.
The bottom line is that while we don’t live in a perfect world it’s a damn site better than the purveyors of doom and gloom would have us imagine. I just may go out and kiss a frog.