We’ve all done it. Okay, I admit it – I have. I’ve nodded along acting like I knew exactly what the person across from me was conveying to my brain, even though we were obviously communicating on entirely different wavelengths. The nod is usually accompanied by a poker face, often within the four walls of a mechanic’s shop.
When a mechanic explains what’s wrong with my car using vehicle jargon, I often hear a string of Greek coming out of his mouth. I nod, act like I know exactly what he’ saying and then put on my “you better not rip me off, my brother’s a car guy” face. I’d like to think it has worked in the past.
Last week, I stepped into a different world: a sewing machine repair shop. I felt even more unfamiliar here but I let my guard down, thinking I knew exactly what was wrong with my borrowed sewing machine.
I have been dabbling in sewing for the past few months. When the machine began having problems, a qualified seamstress checked it out and told me the pressure foot was not properly pushing the fabric. I thought the trip to the shop would be easy: I would walk in, tell them my friend sent me, drop it off, pick it up in a few days and pay a large bill.
As I approached the counter of the repair shop a friendly man greeted me. He exuded extreme confidence – the kind that I was trying to fake at the moment. While he gave the machine a look, he asked what was wrong with it.
“Well, I just started sewing and the pressure foot started acting up – it will no longer push the fabric like it’s supposed to,” I said, in a matter of fact tone. I was feeling quite comfortable in my communication of the problem.
He paused just for a moment, then reached for a button on the very top of the machine and pushed it down. He looked up and said, “It’s fixed.”
The wool coat I wore was not forgiving as extra blood flowed into my face, causing the shade of crimson to darken by the second.
He then looked lower on the machine and pointed out that the needle I was using was slightly bent. He removed the needle, held it up to the light and exclaimed for the whole store of seamstresses to hear, “What were you trying to sew? Plywood?”
I blurted out, “Let me tell you, I would be much more comfortable working with plywood.”
He did a maintenance check and told me the machine was more than 20 years old, so while it needed some repair, he thought it best if I just hobble along with it until I wanted to buy a new one. The repairs would cost about a quarter of a new machine.
“We don’t sew like this anymore,” he said as the palm of his hand flew in a circular pattern over the sewing machine. “I mean, sure, you can watch black and white TV – but why would you want to?”
This guy was smooth. Extremely smooth. He was close to talking me into a new machine within a matter of minutes and a quick demonstration. As if to get one step closer to the sale, a smile spread across his face and he said he would not charge me for that day’s “repair.”
As he walked away a prim and classy gray haired woman next to me said, “That’s nice. It won’t cost you a thing.”
“Yes, except for part of my pride,” I said.
She stepped back as an “oh dear” expression swept across her features. Meanwhile, her husband doubled over laughing in the corner. When his wife dragged him in there, he had no idea a sewing machine store would be so entertaining.
Neither did I.