On the Make

There was a time in my life where I was working as a mechanic for a used car dealership. I had bought a car from them and a conversation turned into a job opportunity. Since I needed a job and now I had a car to get to the job, it seemed like a good idea at the time.

The job began decent enough. They would get cars from auctions and trades and I would get them ready for sale. As time went on, they kept prodding me to take shortcuts on the preparation of cars and I kept resisting. I’ve always taken pride in anything I do and I just wasn’t willing to sign my name to anything if I just didn’t feel it was true. We put up with each other.

The funny thing about the owners trying to get me to do something I considered shady was that they belonged to a certain church and they were very into it. It wasn’t the first time I dealt with hypocrites and it definitely wasn’t the last, but like I said, they put up with me and my scruples.

It also became apparent that they were trying to recruit me and my kids into their church. They took a lot of time talking to me about it and I remained polite but non-committed to joining. Then the day came where I was invited to a gathering at one of their houses and it was clear that I was expected to attend. I figured it wouldn’t hurt anything and agreed to go.

One of the things they were going to do at this gathering, along with volleyball, horseshoes, etc., was a pinewood derby. Anybody who was ever in scouts knows what a pinewood derby is. You can google it, but in a nutshell, it’s a race performed with small cars carved out of pine. My oldest son and I were definitely into this part of the gathering. We built our own car based on a design I had used in scouts and were all set for the races.

I packed up the kids and we arrived at the gathering. There were a lot of other kids there so that part was good. I spent my time with the adults until I got tired of being groomed to join their church, then I hung out more with the kids. I threw some horseshoes, ate some really good food, then it was time for the races. My son and I were pretty excited.

They had at least two dozen cars to race so we did it two at a time and used elimination to narrow the field. After about an hour, there were only two cars left, ours and another dad-son team. The races were decided by winning two out of three runs and we felt pretty confident in our car. It was time to race.

We won the first race, but they won the second. Now it was time for the winner. We released our cars and my son and I were watching at the finish line. Our car won by about an inch…but apparently we were the only ones to see this. They declared the other team the winners for the third year in a row. My son was livid. I had to pull him aside to calm him down.

The tough part about having to calm him down was that he was right, we won the race. The other tough part was to convince him it wasn’t worth the argument. I had noticed that their attitudes towards us had changed as the day went on. I think once they figured I wasn’t going to join their church, they didn’t need to cater to me anymore. We left shortly after the race.

When I went to work that next Monday, things were different. They were no longer willing to put up with my scruples and basically ordered me to take shortcuts with the cars. I couldn’t do it so I quit. I just couldn’t bring myself to sign my name to a car that wasn’t what it showed itself to be. To me, a car is a dangerous object that can hurt or kill people if it’s not maintained properly. I didn’t want to be responsible for that. Besides, I couldn’t bear the thought of a car full of kids like my own getting injured because I wasn’t thorough.

Now if you read this entire story, I hope you didn’t get the impression that we were against church. We aren’t. Just their church. We have a church and we’re perfectly content with it. Yes, there are some bad people like anywhere, but there are also some incredible people who are sincere and believe in doing the right thing. Those are my kind of people.

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