A couple of days ago, I would have said that Starbucks was the anti-Bally’s, but today I can testify that, in fact, Honda is the anti-Bally’s.
To make a long story short (and to avoid car lingo that I don’t know), my ’97 Civic had a problem that made it fail smog checks. Out of the blue, I received a letter from Honda saying that some ‘90’s Hondas had a problem that made them fail smog checks, and that they would reimburse you for any repairs you’d already done and extend the warranty so that you could go get the problem fixed permanently at your local Honda dealer.
Today I, who usually frequent Drulis Brothers Auto Repair in Hawthorne where my dad haggles with the brothers over prices, walked into Airport Marina Honda feeling nervous and doubtful. Sure, I had a letter saying they would fix my problem for free. Sure, Honda had already reimbursed me for my previous repairs after merely seeing a photocopy of an indecipherable invoice covered with Walt Drulis’ chicken scratches. But would it really be free?
Yes, it would! And they would throw in like five extra parts just to be nice and wash my car! It was like visiting the Four Seasons after a lifetime of staying at (clean, affordable—yet so thin-toweled) Motel 6.
While wandering the lot, I checked out the Fit and the Civic SI, both of which seemed attractive and reasonably priced and got good gas mileage. A salesman approached and asked, “Would you like to test drive one of these?”
In such situations, I usually mumble, “No thanks, just looking” and dart away—I even did this in the butcher section of Ralphs one time, which in retrospect seemed weird. Who browses slabs of raw meat?
Anyway, even though I declined a test drive, this time my answer was practically a Honda commercial: “Actually, I’m just here to have my car serviced. It’s a Honda, and as I’m sure you know, they last a long time—so I’m hoping to get a few more years out of it at least. But I’m fantasizing about my next car—which will undoubtedly also be a Honda—while I wait.”I felt sort of lame after I said that, but like a lame person who just got free spark plugs.