Oil Change & God

I had to get an oil change today. While sitting and waiting I was reading My Freshman Year. The book is incredibly engaging, but that isn’t the purpose of this post.

The purpose is what happened as I was leaving.

I went up to the register to pay and the guy asked if I had the Toyota truck. I said “yes” and he went on to list what the price was. I heard “tire rotation”, which was not in my original order, but I figured that it was okay if they had included a tire rotation – I need one.  I paid the man and went out to my car. As I began to pull out, I was surprised to see the guy running out of the office.

The guy stopped me and said that he charged me for the wrong vehicle. When he said Toyota truck he meant the Tundra that was also in the garage not my RAV4 – which people often call a truck. When he saw me get into a silver RAV4 he knew something was wrong. I was amazed and blessed by two things.

First, the man was honest. He could have easily just let me go. But he stopped me and made sure that the mistake – on both of our parts – was ratified. Honesty is often seen as a personal action. You are honest because you are supposed to be; it isn’t good character to be a liar. But honesty also influences others. To be honest is to be in community to love those around you. Honesty is a personal virtue with dramatically public ramifications.

Second, he showed the patience of a reconciler. Instead of being frustrated that I misunderstood him, he simply gave me cash and took most of the blame on himself. It was probably more my fault than his – especially because I am a little out of it today – but that didn’t matter. For this guy, it was his responsibility to make things right.

Something went wrong in the relationship between me, the patron, and him, the seller. In order to fix the problem this guy took on as much responsibility as possible. He didn’t shirk responsibility or say it was my fault; my actions weren’t the issue. This is the essence of reconciliation, of returning to right relationship. Be it familial, social, racial, gender-based, spiritual or otherwise, the tendency is to wait for the other person to move or to make one’s actions contingent upon someone else. But true reconciliation cares so much about the other person and the relationship that ones actions are incredibly even sometimes ridiculous gracious.

I am glad I was shown honesty and patience today as a simple oil change turned into an example of Christ -likeness.

  1. That means even more coming from the guys at the oil change shop. They’ve gotten a lot of bad pub for conning people into replacing things that don’t need replacing.

    A good lesson for business owners as well: Honesty = repeat business.

    • A friend
    • June 11th, 2009

    cool story for the day.
    i think your ideas of reconciliation and what that looks like in hurt relationships seems challenging and i hear myself even thinking all of the
    “buts” and arguments against “ridiculous grace” as opposed to waiting for the apology we’re “owed.”

    big question– tell me about the honesty quote here:

    “To be honest is to be in community to love those around you.”

    what did you mean by this, unpack the idea a little more, not sure that i get what exactly you mean…

  2. Bill – very true. It was refreshing to see that honesty.

    A friend – the” buts” in reconciliation are really difficult to deal with.

    In any community – that is a real committed one – it is necessary to be honest. Just as our communion with God necessitates us knowing God and Got knowing us, we must know those we are in relationship. Without being honest about shortcomings, reservations, etc. we can’t really know one another. This is one of the scariest aspects of community because people abuse honesty. Sometimes people are “transparent” to simply gain attention, sometimes people aren’t committed to a relationship with one another and honesty destructs that relationships instead of causing tension that people have to work and grow through.

  1. No trackbacks yet.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: