Monday, July 4, 2016

"Inductive Reasoning, Coincidence And A Shrug"

It’s like I have this perverse “Death Wish.”  “How few people can I get to read this blog through the use of aggressively distancing post titles?”  Imagine calling a restaurant “Café Botulism” and wondering why nobody shows up.

Well, I can’t help myself.  These ideas come to mind and I cannot to move forward till they are swept out of the way.  Which perhaps is the real reason for my limited popularity:  I am drawn to subjects that are of little interest to anyone else.  Oh well.  At least I write them with style.  (I may have jinxed myself.  I have not written this yet.) 

It begins with this.  (Which you may have heard more about than you ever wanted to.  What can I tell you; it is the genesis of this idea. *)  (* I originally capitalized “Genesis”, but who do I think I am?)

If you remember, I drove my 1992 Lexus SC400 – purchased in the euphoria of the largest contract of my career (and you can see how long ago that was) – onto the dealership’s lot to get a (recently ordered) replacement passenger door handle installed.  (After twenty-four years of use, the previous door handle had snapped off in my hand when I attempted to use it, leaving the passenger door unopened, and from then on, unopenable.)  

As I eased up to the carport, a dealership “car jockey” delivering a car to another customer slammed into my Lexus, inducing that thunderous, metallic “collision sound” that says, “This is going to be terrible.”

And it was.

Putting aside the heartbreaking damage to my quarter-century-old vehicular compadre, between the foot-dragging of the dealership’s Zurich Insurance Company, due, they explained, to inordinate employee turnover and a snowstorm in Kansas (their home headquarters) and a protracted repair process – Lexus claimed they had a tough time locating the requisite replacement parts –my car was not returned to my possession for more than three-and-a-half months. 

I suppose I ought to be grateful.  How much longer would it have taken if they had actually been incompetent?

The problem was…

Although they’d done a capable job on the bodywork – if you ignore the hunks of paint that chipped off almost as soon as I got it back – my car, which had given me virtually no trouble over twenty-four years of driving it, no longer ran properly.                              

When I put my foot on the brake, my restored car rocked like a maniacal clothes dryer.  And on two occasions, it abruptly stalled in traffic, to the honking consternation – honksternation? – of the drivers behind me. 

Dissatisfied with the rocking and the stalling, I drove my car – carefully – into to the dealership, where it has been languishing, for “Diagnostics and Repair” for coming up on four additional weeks.

The question is…

“How the heck did that happen?”

Dueling Responses:


EARL:  “It was an old car when I drove it onto the lot, and it was working just fine then.”

When situations go awry, people search around hungrily for explanations.  Except for the “It was God’s will” people.  They seem to have everything covered.  Unfortunately, my Lexus is an avowed atheist and thus impervious to that comforting rationale.  For non-believers, the solution lies elsewhere. 

But where?

Why did my car work impeccably before it got run into, and shake like John Glenn during “Re-entry” afterwards?

Inductive Reasoning.  (In lieu of a dictionarial definition, which I looked up but did not understand, I offer a snippet of dialogue from the film All The President’s Men, exemplifying “Knowing stuff despite serious discontinuities in the evidence”: 

(A recollected approximation)

“If there is no snow on the ground when you go to bed and you wake up and there’s snow on the ground, can you not assume that it snowed while you were asleep even though you did not see the actual snow coming down?”

My Paralleling Inductive Reasoning:  If my car worked to perfection before I drove it onto the lot (and got hit) and worked atrociously after I picked it up, can I not assume that something happened to the car during the three-and-a-half month interval it sat un-driven on the dealership lot?  (Possibly “accident induced”?)

Dealership Rebuttal:  “It’s a coincidence.”

The truth is, neither answer is unequivocally determinative.  “Inductive reasoning” offers plausibility but not certainty.  “It’s a coincidence” is entirely unprovable.  (And indisputable.  It actually could be a coincidence.  The fact that it’s a convenient copout for the dealership?  Also a coincidence.) 

There is also a third answer to “How the heck did that happen?”:


The answer I received to the question, “How the heck did I get ‘Legionnaire’s Disease’?”  

And you can imagine how “putting my mind to rest” that was.

There you have it.

Three responses.

No ultimate satisfaction.

To be honest, “It was God’s will” is looking better and better.

But how do I sell that to my Lexus?
Happy Birthday, America.  Thanks for letting me in.    


Wendy M. Grossman said...

See, you're too nice. Because the fourth possibility - that they deliberately poorly repaired it so you would come back and buy something new - does not occur to you.


Dave said...

Since I was negligent on Friday...Happy Birthday to both our great countries!

I'm sure you know what has to be done so I won't drone on and on about it. As one of my least favorite superiors used to say, "let's get it done," then went off to smoke and drink coffee.

After Jake Arietta's lackluster outing on Saturday, Cubs' skipper Joe Maddon described Jake's pitching as amorphic. And that's all he had to say about that!