Yesterday I went in for medical tests. The doctor wanted me to have a brain scan, just to rule out a tumor. I thought "It's not a tumor," (in my best Ahnold voice) but what do I know? When the people talking about the healthcare debate say that Americans demand instant MRIs and the like, what they really mean is that if our doctors say we need an MRI, we trust them. We don't know anything. I'm also now starting Topamax to prevent migraines. I can't tell yet if it's making a difference because it's one of those medicines that has to build up in your bloodstream before it works. I don't like the idea of being medicated all the time, but I do have a lot of days where I feel crummy because of headaches, and I find myself eating defensively to try to avoid them. This was just my normal. I'm willing to give it a try and trust that she knows more than I do, even though I reflexively would rather not take drugs. This is a new doctor and I have to try to trust her if this is going to work.
I'm having a similar situation with the mechanic, although in his case, I think the trust has worn out. I had a mechanic I really liked in my last town, and I even have been taking my car there for routine service, even though it's a half-hour drive. My husband had a breakdown on Tuesday, though, and we had to get the car towed somewhere. The mechanic I knew in this town went out of buisness, so we tried a new place. I feel like this new guy put me through an unnecessary rigamarole about which part he should put in the car. The first place, he said, quoted a really expensive price on the alternator. Did I want to go ahead with that even though he thought it was about $200 too high? Of course not. I could borrow a car if I had to. Then he said he found two options. One he didn't really trust, and then there was another one that was still less than the first, most expensive part, but only $80 more than the untrustworthy part. Of course, I said, I don't want you to put in a part that you don't think is good so that I can go through all this hassle again to save $80. But really. All I have to go on is the mechanic's judgment, and he really shouldn't present me with an option he honestly thinks is no good. I can't imagine that these tactics work. The funny thing is that if he had just put in the middle-price part without making the big fuss, I would have thought it was perfectly fine, especially if he had the car ready yesterday, when I wanted it, instead of today. My impression, valid or not, is that he dragged all of this out for the sake of theater. I'll be looking for someone else next time.
When people talk about the power of market forces, they forget that you're really not in a position of power to haggle when you're talking about something like your health or fixing a car that you've had towed in. You have to trust the person who supposedly knows more than you do and hope that they are treating you fairly and aren't just squeezing you for a paycheck.