“No good deed goes unpunished” — American dramatist Clare Boothe Luce, as well as an oft-quoted proverb.
I really did feel like a 197-pound weakling Tuesday when I failed in several attempts to replace my auto license plate. I was unable to “lefty loosey” the nuts and bolts holding the plate in place. I enlisted the help of others in the household, but to no avail.
I finally swallowed my pride and drove my car to Railside Auto Service because my wife often has said they’re very good and fair about things. She and others have indicated the local business is a throwback to days of old, when your auto repair guy loved what he was doing and wasn’t just out to make a buck.
Scott Schneider, the man who greeted me over the counter, lived up to all of the hype. He quickly grabbed the right tool and was able to release the grip of nuts and bolts that had rusted into the old plate because they hadn’t been disturbed since Hector was a pup. That’s because our state government makes a whopping profit almost every year just providing motorists with only a sticky tab that costs ninety bucks.
It took Schneider, who hails from Dorr and lives in Hopkins, only a few minutes to solve the problem. After he completed the task, I told him we should go inside to settle up the bill. He told me there was no need because his service was on the house.
I am not accustomed to that kind of business transaction in this age of greed and avarice. Furthermore, though my wife has some business with Railside in the past, I drive a Prius that almost exclusively is handled by my Grand Rapids dealer.
Regardless, Schneider was generous and kind, once again giving me a glimpse of bygone days.
It did remind me of a time when my son Robby and fishing buddy Jim Wasserman were in the Upper Peninsula and something went horribly wrong with Wasserman’s van, at least so we thought. We stopped at the Seney Auto Repair Shop, run by Pastor Roman Schlabach’s son, Elijah. Roman had been longtime owner and proprietor of our favorite Mennonite restaurant, the Golden Grill.
Elijah fixed the problem in just a couple of minutes. We were relieved by its non-serious solution and Wasserman asked the younger Schlabach how much we owed him. He asked, “How much do you think is fair?” He and Wasserman had a friendly bartering session and finally it was agreed to toss him three bucks, one from each of us. He accepted the money graciously.
Schneider did one better by refusing any payment.
Not long ago there were billboards extolling the virtues of do-gooder businesses. They were called, “Pass It On.” One showed a photo of mechanic who couldn’t fix the problem and refused payment. The billboard said: “Integrity. Pass It On.”
The photo should have been of Scott Schneider.