Monday, February 27, 2006

Israel: Tel Aviv: Trip to the Mechanic

Yesterday, I took my jeep for its annual inspection. It failed due to some problem in the tire area. I took the car to the garage adjacent to the inspection center and showed the mechanics the report so they could fix the problem.

They took the tire off and unscrewed all of the metal pieces in the area where the tire is bolted on to the car. Then they replaced a rubber sleeve that covered a joint. This cost me $130, and I also gave a tip. Then I went back to the inspectors, and my car still didn't pass. Doh!

I went back to the garage, and there came to be a big argument between the mechanics and the inspector. The inspector won.

It was too late now to refix the problem before the inspection site and the garage closed, so I had to leave my car overnight. I was quoted an additional $270. The mechanics couldn’t speak much English, so I had no idea what exactly they were repairing this time. They were going to fix the car, get it reinspected, and deliver it to me at the Embassy, and they assured me it would be ready by 10:00 the following day.

The next day at 2:00, having heard nothing from the garage, I called to see what the deal was. They were missing a part, and they were short one mechanic. This meant they were running late and that I had to pick up the car myself between 4:00 and 5:00.

When I had dropped off the car the day before, I was wearing jeans and a t-shirt. When I came to pick it up, I was coming straight from work and was wearing a shirt and tie. Israel is such a casual place, it doesn’t take much dressing-up to stick out.

When I got to the garage, all of the Russian mechanics made such a big deal about my clothes you'd have thought I was wearing a tux.

As I paid in the office, the head mechanic, Alon, asked if I was satisfied with his work, "like in America." He asked me through the help of the secretary, who spoke a little bit more English.

Many people are suspicious of mechanics anyway, and dealing with a mechanic who doesn’t speak the same language as you do certainly doesn’t help. I actually felt like I had probably been ripped-off, but since I don’t know about cars, I gave Alon the benefit of the doubt and assumed our deal had been honest.

I told him that I wished I had been in the States, though, since my older brother is an expert mechanic. He knows his stuff; he speaks English, and he always gives me a big discount.

Alon found this to be a totally novel idea. He told me that he charges his brother full price whenever he comes to the shop. We had a laugh over that one.

When we went out to the car, Alon told me he had something to show me. It was my new registration sticker, valid through February 2007. Then he popped the hood and pointed out things that didn’t mean anything to me.

As we were looking at the engine, he asked me if I brought the car from the U.S.; I told him that I had bought it in Israel from a colleague. He then asked me what car I drove in the States, and I told him I had been driving a red Ford pick-up truck. He and the others didn’t understood what I was talking about, so I tried to show them that a pick-up truck was like my jeep with the back part cut off.

This reminded Alon of something. “You know Win [Vin] Diesel?” he asked.

I told him that I did. I thought that Alon was asking me because he himself happened to look very much like Vin Diesel.

He was like, “Win Diesel drives a car like this. You know the movie?”

I couldn’t recall Vin Diesel driving a red pick-up, so I told him no.

He told me the name of the movie in what I guess was Hebrew, and it sounded just like Mayor Bugs Bunny.

Unsure of what Vin Diesel had to do with Bugs Bunny, I was like, “Yeah, I know Bugs Bunny.”

Alon could tell I didn’t understand. “No, no. Mayor Bugs Bunny. Mayor Bugs Bunny.”

I made some rabbit ears with my fingers and told him again that I knew Bugs Bunny.

He and the Russians were cracking up.

Alon tried to translate the title: “You know… Speed, Frighten?”

“Are you talking about Triple X?” I asked him.

He wasn’t. He called up to the woman in the office for assistance. She was no help.

He started asking all of the other mechanics who had not been part of the original discussion. Then he started calling people on the phone.

Soon there were all kinds of crazy titles coming at me.

Quick and Shaky?”

“Never heard of it.”

Speed and Anxious?”

“Doesn’t ring a bell…”

And finally after 3 phone calls, he came up with Fast and Nervous.

Bingo! “You mean The Fast and the Furious?”

I was already having a fun time with this guessing game. When I got the right answer, though, it was my turn for cracking up at the crazy translations they had given me.

Everyone else started laughing too.

Alon continued, “OK. OK. This like your car in America?”

I still couldn’t recall a red pick-up truck in Fast & Furious, but I told him that maybe he was right. Perhaps he now thinks that my car in the U.S. is a street racer.

We had some more good laughs, and then I walked over to the driver’s side of my car so that I could be on my way.

Alon, still laughing, approached me. “You are beautiful, man. Come see us again.”

With the state of my car, I figured I probably would be seeing him again.

Then we shook hands, and I left. And the whole shop waved me good-bye.

No comments: