Manny the Miracle Worker

Jul 24, 2006

RAY: A few weeks ago, an elderly woman customer came into the garage with her elderly car. I think it was an '85 Lincoln Town Car. It was huge.

She's talking to Manny, the youngest of our technicians, and she's explaining to him what she wants done with her car. Of course, I'm eavesdropping. She says, "There are two things that need to be looked at. First, I need a tune up."

Manny asks why. She says, "My mileage has been off. The engine seems to be laboring. The power's diminished, and I know I need a tune up. Next, my shift indicator is off. When I'm in park, it really says I'm in reverse. And when I'm in drive, it really says, I'm in two."

Manny hears this and says, "I know what's wrong with your car. You're not in the right gear. You're in second gear and that's why your mileage is off and that's why the engine seems to be laboring."

She says, "What you know, you young punk! I can feel all the shifts. I start driving, and it shifts from first to second and then it shifts from second to third, and then if I stomp on the gas, it downshifts.

He says, "Oh, okay. Back to square one. How do you know the mileage is off?"

And she replies, "I check it all the time. Every month I take a trip to visit my mother-in-law in New Hampshire."

TOM: This elderly woman has a live mother-in-law?

RAY: I didn't say she was alive.

She continues, "I noticed on my return trip the last time, that when I got back the thing seemed to be laboring. My mileage was terrible for the whole return trip, and I began to notice all these symptoms."

Manny looks at her. He asks her a bunch of other irrelevant questions like what color blue is your hair anyway, and then he says to her, "Whereabouts in New Hampshire does your mother-in-law live?"

And she says, "North Crunchy Granola, New Hampshire."

Manny then asks, "Does she live on a dirt road?"

And she says, "Why, as a matter of fact, she does. It's a lousy dirt road with pot holes and I hate driving there."

Manny says to her, "I know what's wrong with your car. You don't need a tune up. And one repair is going to fix everything."

And my question is, what did he learn from this last question that enabled him to figure out what was wrong with her car?
RAY: Well, the hint was that the gearshift thing was off.

TOM: Weird!

RAY: It's a true story. While she was driving on that dirt road, because of the age of her car, something broke. And that something that broke caused her gearshift indicator to be off and also caused her drop in mileage and performance. What broke was the mount that holds the transmission up. And when the transmission broke, it sat down on the emergency brake cable, and the emergency brake was on.

That was enough to make her mileage drop off, the power drop off, and, of course, because the transmission now was closer to the ground, the shift indicator was off.

TOM: Of course, you gave Manny a raise.

RAY: No. He got a lunch hour that day!

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