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My Nemesis - - - Superman has his kryptonite, and so do I


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My Nemesis


Could there be an Achilles heel in the auto world that I would consider my nemesis? Is it possible there is a "kryptonite car" that brings chaos everywhere it goes? Should I run away at the first sign of these diabolical vermin of my undoing? If there was ever such a car, it would no doubt be … The PT CRUISER… I'm getting to the point I don't even want to see one come in for an oil change. Now, don't get me wrong… I like the little car. I just find more problems with the car vs. the owner than any other make and model these days. Perhaps, it's not the car … perhaps it's the owners of these cars… maybe they are the kryptonite, and the car is merely the portal of transportation bringing them to the shop faster than a speeding bullet.


You know, it's been said for many years that a person takes on the traits of their cars. It's like trying to explain your eccentric Uncle Hugo to someone. Just mention he still drives an old Rambler everywhere, they'll get the picture.


Funny, how these associations became reality. (Personally, I like the old Ramblers.) Even though it was never intended to be like this when the car was manufactured, those little quirks and style of the car become essentially an expression of the owner. Sometimes it's like Clark Kent and his alter ego -- Superman. You just never know what to expect out of some people.


So far, these PT Cruiser's haven't let me down. Servicing them can be like leaping tall buildings with a single bound. (Easy for Superman, not so easy for me.) I'd like to know who thought of putting the A/C service valve way down in the engine bay. I can't even get my arm in there. Or the way the power steering pressure hose is corkscrewed around the engine. All that and more comes to mind when working on these cars, but it's still those odd ball problems that I encounter with the car and the owners that makes them unique.


I've had everything from a PT Cruiser that came in for repair where a bodyshop used drywall screws to hold the front grill back on the car. AND, they used "Bondo" over their screws, so you couldn't tell what they had done until you tried to remove it. My problem wasn't why the body shop used drywall screws… no… my problem was the air conditioner. Could it be, because someone had put a drywall screw right through the wiring harness? Gee, now how did that get there? The odd part was the owner was more pissed at me for removing the grill to find the problem than the bodyshop using drywall screws to hold it on.


And then there was the lady who had taken her car to several dealerships and transmission shops. It turned out to be a bad connection between the TCM and the transmission. Not a big deal to repair, you just had to be there at that particular moment to see the failure. It's probably why no one else had found it.


But, as soon as I fixed the connection the fluid had a chance to move thru the transmission… and it began to leak. Not bad, but bad enough. I showed the owner the leak, and told her it wouldn't take long to repair. She then told me how mad she was and how much she spent at the other places. "I'm never going back to them ever again," she would say over and over. But, instead of having me fix the leaking valve body… she was going back to the guy she was ticked off at. Huh? I guess she needed to spread more of that PT Cruiser kryptonite to another shop.


But the top of list was this little caper. A transmission shop I've worked with for many years dropped one off for me to check the electronics to the transmission. Normally, it's no big deal, except for the huge snow storm that evening. It was one of the worst storms to hit our area in years. It started snowing on the way home Wednesday night, by morning I was stuck at the house until the snow plows could clear the roads, which from the looks of things, wasn't going to be for several days. (My part of the country doesn't have the fleet of snow plows like the northern parts do… we pretty much wait until it melts. (They'll plow the main roads everything else is left untouched.)


Around 11:30pm Friday evening with the snow still coming down my home phone rang. It was the owner of the PT Cruiser, who by all rights was pretty ticked off. She has been without her little car for quite some time.


She demanded that I go to the shop, open it up, and get her son's basketball out of the car. (For real… no joke here… she was dead serious.) Any other day, sure…, except for the fact that you couldn't tell the road from the ditches and I have a 45 minute commute from my house to the shop even on days with good roads and light traffic.


Let's see here…, it's dark, there's a couple of feet of drifting snow on the road, it's probably going to take me a couple of hours to navigate my way into town, providing I don't end up in a ditch myself. Ah, let me think about this a second… done… not happening!


Now picture this, I'm standing in my kitchen looking out over the snow covered front lawn while I'm listening to her version of the repair right down to each and every penny she has spent, and mind you, she wasn't holding back any remarks about anyone involved. I don't know about you, but when I'm home…, I'm home. I'd rather not talk shop, and this lady was pushing the wrong buttons.


I tried to calm her down and explain things in a logical way, the weather, the time of the day, and unless I was Clark Kent, I'm pretty sure it will have to wait till the storm passes. No dice, this lady was P.O.'d!


Sorry lady, I'm sure your son will make it one more night without his precious basketball. Resourceful gal, I'll give her that, but there won't be any road trips to the Metropolis tonight. What gets into people sometimes? Then again, it's not the owners… it's the car…… it just gotta be the car….


Superman has his kryptonite…, and I've got my PT Cruisers….



I really appreciate all your thoughts and comments. These stories are here before final editing or publication. Some make it, some don't. I don't know which ones will until you tell me. I then send them onto my editors for final approval. You like this story, leave a comment... it will help me decide which ones go onto publication. Thanx again. Gonzo

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That's pretty much the point of this story. Same type of car... but different wacky people. (trying to see if someone read between the lines and understood what I was getting at) I was trying to make the point that the cars ARE difficult at times to repair--but possible. It's the customer who makes the repair impossible. It's not the car... but there always seems to be a pattern with certian cars and their owners, the wacky ones tend to find the odd ball cars ... it's like a moth to a flame. LOL




We all suffer from Kryptonite poisoning from time to time. But, I do believe it originates from the customer. The negative aura that some people give off can be compared to voodoo magic. Ever wonder why most problems arise from those customers that are the biggest pain the neck? Your best customer comes in, throws the keys on the counter and tells you, "Call me when you done". No problem.


But that "pain in the neck" customer comes in, tells you what's wrong, tells you he does not want to spend a lot of money, tells you he wasn't happy the last time you worked on the car and tells you he needs it done yesterday. Right? Well, this is where kryptonite turns the job into a nightmare….everything you touch on the car is an issue…..I swear, it's like voodoo!

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  • Have you checked out Joe's Latest Blog?

      A recent study, done by Harvard Business School, concluded that the real problem with attracting and retaining employees has more to do with the workplace environment, not pay or benefits. While the study did find that an adequate pay plan and offering an attractive benefits package did help with recruiting and retention, it’s not enough to satisfy the needs of employees, especially those of front-line workers.
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