THE BLOG

Honesty Still Exists, Even at the Auto Shop

07/29/2014 06:48 pm ET | Updated Sep 28, 2014

My car guy, Dave, wears a curly brown ponytail that stretches down to his waist and glasses that kind of remind me of John Lennon. I found him through stellar reviews on Yelp. A free spirit, he's undoubtedly the most unique mechanic I've ever met.

Dave's business looks nothing like your traditional automotive shop. Paintings of colorful swirls cover the windows on the outside of the building. Inside, Dave has eclectic posters with quotes and funny pictures hanging on the walls amidst countless plants and antique car parts plopped on the floor of the waiting area.

A handful of small dogs lounging on a large pillow greet you at the door with spirited yips. A gray cat with easily eight layers of dirt and oil caked on its fur also always rubs against your calves when you walk in. Dirty Cat is absolutely filthy but very sweet and a kind of mascot for the place.

If you watch Dave with customers, he's always pushing his glasses up and looking to the side to consider his words before expressing meaningful concepts. From gratitude, to favorite movies, and old cars he fixed that everyone said couldn't be fixed, Dave enjoys thoughtfully sharing his insights with others.

My twelve-year-old Explorer is on its last legs. I'm almost ready to let it go, but not quite, so I see Dave a lot.

Cars are really perplexing to me, so Dave writes in yellow marker on all of the parts he works on.

Opening my hood, I can read a sea of descriptions, dates, and changes he's made over the past couple of years. This way, I am never confused. Because of his honesty and attention to detail, I've trusted Dave since day one.

Recently, I took the car in for a check engine light problem. Dave quoted me between $700 and $1000 for the job. He said he would have to go in and fix this one part and then, if he needed new parts, the cost would go up.

When I arrived to pick the car up, and saw the bill came to $495, I figured he'd grabbed the wrong invoice. As always, Dave filled me in on everything he did, and revealed that he was able to fix the problem without new parts, and the job didn't take as long as he thought it would.

"We came in under budget, Michelle. That is why it's $495."

I stared at him in disbelief. Not because Dave's integrity surprised me, but because I couldn't recall a moment in my entire life when someone doing a job for me admitted to coming in "under budget." Because we usually aren't there to see the work being done, we, as customers, have no idea how long it actually took. We would never know the difference either way.

The experience made me appreciate Dave more than ever. It also got me thinking about honesty. It made me wonder if I tell the truth as often as I could or should.

Things I generally lie about are: my weight on my driver's license and how long it will take for me to get somewhere when I am already late. For some reason, even when I know I need another thirty minutes, I say it will only take fifteen. I don't know if this is wishful thinking or what?

I lie to others sometimes to avoid hurting their feelings. Baby lies like, "No, your singing was really good." And, "Yes, I totally like that yellow color you chose for your new car," are not that big of a deal.

Lying to myself is my biggest problem. I say I'm not mad sometimes when I totally am. If I skip the gym today, it won't turn into a week. I round up how much I saved on a sale. I think we all lie about love relationships when we convince ourselves his or her good qualities surely outweigh the bad.

Sometimes I don't eat the last couple bites of a meal. That way I can lie to myself about how many calories I didn't consume. (Yes, not eating the crust of that pizza really made a difference, Michelle.)

And speaking of food, (because how can I get through an article without talking about food?) I lie about sugar. I buy the Ben & Jerry's Strawberry Cheesecake flavor and tell myself that I won't eat the whole pint. Unfortunately, when the piecrust starts popping up at the bottom, I can't turn back. Coveting the carton in the ice cream aisle is where the lie begins.

I hope admitting to these lies here will make me more accountable to myself. I am grateful to Dave for inspiring me to practice increased honesty in my life. He really is a cool guy who made me think about stuff, simply by telling the truth.