The Reverse Psychology Expert

Lulu the customer: “Don’t you think I need to change the rear view mirror? I somehow cracked it with the back of my snow brush.”

Maahi the auto mechanic:”No need to do that. It’s cracked a little on the edge and it won’t bother your vision.”

Lulu: “Don’t you think I need to change the door handle. I can’t open the car door easily since the handle is half broken.”

Maahi: “No need. Let me show you. Just lift the half handle up and jingle a little bit. That will do the trick. No need to spend money on that.”

Lulu: “Do you think I should buy a new tire?”

Maahi: “No need. Your tire is punctured by a nail. I can fix it in fifteen minutes. No need to buy a new tire.”

Lulu: “You know Maahi, I have all the respect for your opinion, but with the snow storms and the potholes, I probably should buy a better tire. I heard about the brand Fukushima…”

Maahi: “I mean it’s an old car. Why bother equip it with new tires? What’s the point?”

Maahi runs a popular auto shop in Edison and his name has spread to all the townships in central New Jersey. Customers used to line up outside just to get into his parking lot. However now with the pandemic, he’s no longer busy, but his eccentricity is still with him. When you talk with him, you feel that he doesn’t want to do the repair and tries hard to persuade you not to think of repairing unless absolutely necessary. His aversion to doing repair and his seeming dislike of making money is rather appealing to immigrants living in the area, whose attitude towards maintenance, be it a car or a house, is leaning towards the view of an extreme minimalist.

Another unique trait of Maahi is that he enjoys giving his customers three options. The first is what can happen if you don’t repair; the second is what will happen if you use a part from junk yards; the third is the best repair he can offer you and why. He has long soliloquy about the third option, often involving the theory of combustion, the law of attrition, the strength and the weaknesses of the modern manufacturing, and finally the digitized world of auto repair. Actually the digitization of the cars has brought a lot more business to Maahi. The reason is that a digitized car is very sensitive and warning signals can come up for the smallest reason possible. Anxious drivers want to know what’s happening while unwilling to go to the dealer who has an uncanny talent to exaggerate any existing issue. So they come to Maahi for advice. He can often turn the whimsical light off within five minutes.

Maahi has become, probably unwittingly, an expert in reverse psychology. Many of his customers are so annoyed by his negative advice that they insist on getting things repaired, just for the heck of it. Lulu wanted to do that too, but she restrained her impulse. She drives away with a tire patched up.

Two weeks later, the defective tire is busted by a pothole and Lulu has to wait for hours somebody to come to her rescue since she doesn’t know how to use a jack to switch the spare tire on. Then she goes back to Maahi and demands Fukushima being installed right away.

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