The wisdom of a mechanic
I noticed a nail in my front right tire a couple days ago. I was out smoking a cigarette by my car and was staring blankly at nothing, and I spotted something shiny on my tire. Thinking it was a little stone wedged into the tread, I went to pull it out and saw it was the head of a nail. It appeared to be in all the way. I could have taken a screwdriver and a pair of pliers and pulled it out, but the tire appeared to have remained fully inflated, so I chose not to take the nail out, for fear that the tire would deflate.
So I left the nail in and let the car sit for two days and rode my motorcycles around instead. The tire did not deflate, but I thought probably I should get around to getting this repaired cause eventually I would need to use the car. Normally I would have gone on Youtube and looked up how to plug a tire, which is actually pretty easy. But I wanted them to take the tire off and put in a patch. Plugs are supposed to work pretty good, but I don't like the idea of driving around with all the air in a tire held in by a plug that you push into the tire.
So I drove it over to a local mechanic who has a good reputation for honesty in the area, and who helped me out on something else for free once before. Driving over and waiting for my tire to be fixed, I thought about the value of reputation, its economic value and importance to this mechanic's livelihood. We all fear being ripped off by the mechanic, the doctor, dentist, lawyers, anybody who has an expertise we do not have, because it would be so easy for them to rip us off and we would never know. And they all have the same fears, because they themselves have to use experts as well - i.e., doctors need to take their cars to mechanics, and mechanics have to go to doctors. And so the importance of reputation for these people is huge. A lifetime could be spent by a mechanic foregoing profitable lies in order to ensure a good reputation, and one false review on Google could cause some real damage. I thought it would be a worthy task for a lawyer to represent such a mechanic, if he were the victim of such a lie.
So I was thinking about these things, but not for long because he came to me within 10 minutes and told me, The nail didn't make it through! Apparently it was much shorter than I thought, having only seen the head, and assuming it went all the way through and was plugging its own hole. In fact, it was either a thumbtack, or else a broken nail, and it only went in as far as the tread of the tire, and did not puncture. So they pulled it out of the tread and there was no need for either a plug or a patch.
And then he said to me, You made the right decision NOT TO TAKE THE NAIL OUT. Because he said, usually people take the nail out and then drive over to the shop, and by that time, the tires are no good from the rim digging into a flat tire, and therefore they need to replace the tire, which can be expensive. So he said that I did the right thing by leaving the nail in and letting them take it out, driving it over with the nail in while the tire still held air.
Well at the moment he said it, I was just pleased to hear it I didn't have to pay anything and so I didn't pay much attention, but on the way home, I thought - wait a minute. Why did I do the right thing? Since the nail didn't actually puncture the tire, if I had taken it out myself at home, I would have discovered that as well, and then I wouldn't have had to even drive over to the repair shop and back again, the whole visit having taken at least a half hour (not that my time is so valuable, but there was anxiety involved for two days while my car was sitting with a nail in the tire). I could have solved the problem myself just by taking out the nail, and I wouldn't have had to repair anything.
But he said, You did the right thing by leaving the nail in. See the problem? As it turns out, I did NOT do the right thing, knowing after the fact that the nail was only in the tread. But ex ante, without that knowledge, he was saying that I did the right thing, by leaving it in, so I wouldn't have had to drive it flat, because by all appearances, the nail had punctured the tire, and I couldn't have known that it was as short as a thumbtack, from its appearance on the tire.
Keeping in mind that this mechanic is a professional in his field, it's worth thinking about why from his point of view, I did the right thing by leaving the nail in, despite the result. And that's because a professional, in whatever field, judges the rightness or wrongness of an action in his field of expertise according to the process, or procedure employed, and not the result. As a human being, he may be distracted by results in other areas of his life, but in his domain, i.e., auto repair, this mechanic operates according to rules of procedure, according to standards that he knows as a professional who knows his business. And he knows what is the right decision and what is not, when it comes to car maintenance. And he ALSO KNOWS, that the result is a separate matter, which does not always follow. In other words, there is a separation between process and result, in that following the correct process may sometimes lead to an undesirable result, and also the other way around, where one might make the wrong decision, but get "lucky", and get a good result. Hopefully, more times than not, one should get a good result if one follows the correct procedure. But it is not always so. And in my case, I followed the right procedure, he was saying, but in a sense, I was "unlucky", in that the result turned out to be wrong - i.e., I had a false positive - i.e., I thought the nail had punctured and that the tire was in need of repair, but it had not, and therefore I had made an unnecessary trip to the repair shop, which is in a sense, "unlucky." But my thinking process was correct in this instance, NOTWITHSTANDING the result.
And so he rewarded me for my correct action by not charging me, even though he did have to expend about 10 minutes of his time to examine and diagnose the problem - i.e., he had to put my car up on a lift, find the nail, pull it out, and test and examine to make sure it had really not caused a puncture. He could have charged me a few bucks for this, but he didn't.
I thanked him for his generosity, but what I was really thankful for was a piece of his mind, a peek into the thinking of a professional on a subject within his craft. I believe all professionals look at matters in their craft the same way - judging by process rather than result.
And yet, the world tends to judge success by result, not process. People want RESULTS! RESULTS! RESULTS! Well professionals do not view things that way, at least not in their areas of expertise. They look at decision making process. And let the results be damned. If the results do not follow as they should from the process, it's the results that are wrong, not the person making the decision. So long as you make the correct decision, WHICH IS TO BE JUDGED BY THE PROCESS EMPLOYED ALONE, then the results are what they are, good or bad, lucky or unlucky. All professionals know this, from medical doctors, to professional gamblers at the card table - i.e., what comes up on the river card is a matter of luck - what matters is, did you play your hand right leading up to it. In the long term, if you make the right decisions, we hope that the results will conform. But even if that doesn't turn out to be the case, so what? Let the results be damned. Let's be like the professionals and focus our attention on PROCESS, even in areas outside our expertise.
11/2/2022 11:25:44 pm
Good how product everything. Lawyer Mr part travel including range later.
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