Seaton: Big Homey Makes Good

Prefatory note: this is part three of the latest series of Sheriff Roy stories. For parts one and two please see “A Car Story” and “The Kollision King” respectively—CLS

Big Homey’s Global Car Sales was a fairly off-the-map dealership in Mobile, Alabama. Run by Erwin “Big Homey” Steele, the dealership was well respected by patrons and had a five star rating on Yelp.

It was also home to a very high tech car service center run by a guy named Alex Abrahantes. Word was Alex got bored one year outsourcing diagnostic tests on cars so he invented his own diagnostic tools. His allegedly were three times faster than conventional diagnostic equipment and were able to diagnose a whole host of problems others could not.

Which was a big reason why Sheriff Roy brought his sweet Arlene’s car to this very location and why he’d gone out of his way to be there when the service department opened at 8 am.

“Good morning Sheriff Templeton,” Alex said as the lawman got out of his car. Extending a hand and a smile, he asked Mud Lick’s top cop for his assessment of Arlene’s car troubles. After Sheriff Roy relayed the sordid tale of Garage 66 and the Kollision King, Alex stroked his chin thoughtfully.

“I want to say at first blush it sounds like a spark plug issue. When was the last time Arlene had her car’s spark plugs changed?”

“I can’t say for sure they’ve ever been replaced, Alex.”

“Hmm.” Again Alex thought hard. “Well, there’s going to be a $185 diagnostic fee like I told you when you made the appointment and we’ll see what we can find out from there. Are you planning to stay here with the vehicle?”

“No. I did think you should know the hood latch release is broken as well.”

“No biggie. I’m pretty sure I can get the hood open without an incident.”

This positive talk pleased Sheriff Roy, who’d been fed up with everyone saying they couldn’t do a thing for Arlene’s car until that damn hood latch was fixed.

Alex bid Sheriff Roy well and went to work on Arlene’s SUV. Sheriff Roy decided it was time for a wholesome breakfast, so he called a Ruber using his phone and went to a nearby Cracker Barrel.

He made it through half his breakfast when Alex called. “I think I figured out what’s wrong with the SUV, Sheriff.”

“Talk to me.”

“Well for one, you’ve got a bad wire on Arlene’s battery and there’s a connection port that’s all kinds of shot nearby too.”

“That doesn’t sound too bad. Can you fix it today?”

“Yeah, no problem there. It’s going to be $130 for that and I’ll need an hour or two to get a battery tech available. That doesn’t touch the other stuff we need to do though.”

Sheriff Roy swore. “What other stuff?”

“Well the hood latch is going to run you $400. That’s roughly $200 for the parts and another $200 for the labor. Plus we need about three days to get the parts in.

“Anything else?”

“Yeah. Arlene’s catalytic converter needs a couple of things replaced. That’ll run you about $1600 between the parts and labor and we’ll need a few days there to get those parts in too.”

Sheriff Roy did some mental math. “What do we need to do to get Arlene back on the road ASAP?”

Alex went silent for a moment. When the silence wasn’t broken Sheriff Roy decided to elaborate. “Because we’re going to have to do this in phases, so we need to address the crucial stuff first.”

“The battery’s the most important fix. Without that, Arlene’s possibly going to stall out on the road and if Roy Junior were in the car when that happened, I would not be able to live with myself. The hood latch isn’t an issue if you bring the car here instead of some podunk garage. And honestly, the catalytic converter issue’s just going to give you substandard gas mileage until it’s resolved.”

Sheriff Roy smiled, really smiled, for the first time since this calamity began. “One more question. Can you go ahead and do an oil change while you’ve got the hood open?”

“Yeah sure. It’ll be $86.”

“Do it. And let’s do the battery today.”

“Roger that, Sheriff. I’ll call you when it’s done.”

And with that Sheriff Roy decided to go stroll in a nearby park for a couple of hours, enjoying the time he had to himself. That was a rarity in his line of work.

Alex called in two hours to collect payment and tell Sheriff Roy Arlene’s SUV was functional again.

Arlene was happy to see her SUV drive back into their driveway. She would swear in the days to come the car sounded better than it had in months.

And Sheriff Roy resolved to bring Arlene’s car back to the dealership in Mobile for any future repairs. He was done dealing with the Cockes in Garage 66, the Kollision King, or anyone else who tried to sell him a bill of snake oil for auto repairs.

If there was one time to trust real “experts,” Sheriff Roy concluded, it was in auto repair.

Better to deal with someone you trust, he reasoned, than someone offering you the work for cheap.

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