February 2, 2013

Thank God for Christian Brothers

Have you ever had a spiritual experience while getting your car fixed? It happened to me on a cold (for Texas) fall day while staying home from work since both kids were sick. Something else was sick too: my car. It was one of those lingering problems/noises that likely would have turned into something worse if I had let it go.

For some reason, on this day when my wife and I were juggling two sick kids, I suddenly became inspired to do something about the car again. I had already taken it in just a few weeks earlier, hoping to get it fixed before our baby was due. However, the car problem seemed to stump the first auto shop I went to. They couldn't find anything wrong.

So at a moment when both kids were under control, I headed out to another mechanic I was aware of but had never used before, Christian Brothers Automotive. (No, this is not an advertisement.) One of reasons I chose this place was because they'd be able to give me a quick -- hopefully -- ride back home after dropping off the car.

Yes, Christian Brothers isn't just a name; they really do operate based on Christian values (Bibles in the waiting room, etc.). That's nice, but what really moved me was the ride home as well as the trip back later in the day to get my car.

After I checked in and handed over my keys, the guy said the courtesy car would pick me up out front momentarily. Sorry for stereotyping, but I guess I expected an auto shop's courtesy car to be a run-down high-mileage old van driven by a young guy covered in motor oil.

Boy was I wrong. A pristine newer-model large sedan (a Cadillac, maybe? Can't recall.) pulled up, driven by a kind woman whom I will respectfully describe as a senior citizen. She was extremely polite and mostly quiet on the ride home. That suits me perfectly; introverts don't like making small talk.    

Fast forward a few hours later. About 90-minutes before the shop was closing, they called and told me my car was ready, and they would put me on the list for the courtesy car to pick me up. So I was expecting to see Mrs. Polite-and-Quiet again.

But about 45-minutes later, someone else from Christian Brothers called. He told me his name, which sounded familiar, and said there was a backlog of pickups for the courtesy car, so he would come get me instead so I wouldn't have to wait any longer.

His name was familiar because of what I had read on the website of this particular Christian Brothers location. Suddenly it hit me: the owners of this franchise are the ones giving their customers courtesy rides. That's right, one owner drove me home earlier. And her husband, the other owner, was about to drive me back to get my car.

He was much more talkative than his wife, but not in a way that bothered my introverted self too much. He asked about my day, so I made small talk about the sick kids. He mentioned that he had ducked away from work during the day to attend some sort of charitable event (can't remember the details.) Knowing he was the owner, I asked him, "So, how's business today?" He said, "We've been able to help a lot of people today." What an admirable response! Yes, it's a for-profit business, but his answer focused on being able to help people.

Here's the kicker: not once did he or his wife ever mention anything about owning the franchise. They simply went about their day helping and serving their customers. On top of that, their mechanics figured out the problem with my car, and it's been running fine ever since. Thank God for Christian Brothers!

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