Better to Have Your Lemons Squeezed Than to Drive One...

When I first started experiencing some success running my own plumbing business in the late 80s, my wife and I decided to treat ourselves by buying a brand new '88 Firebird 5.0, black with a beige interior. We ordered it from the factory with a Positraction differential and other carefully selected factory options. It was built between Christmas and New Years', which is not the best time to have the car of your dreams descending an assembly line in Detroit... Yes, our car purchase might have been influenced by the movie "Smokey and the Bandit", and who knows, maybe I owe the longevity of my mustache to Burt Reynolds...

Loved the yee-haw, law-breakin' action!   

The first problem we had was the driver's side front fender leaked and during rain or snow, it soaked the driver's legs. It was fixed at the dealership by a Pontiac body specialist. Then, while my wife drove it with my newborn son in the back, it started accelerating on its own, a very dangerous problem that can have catastrophic results. After it happened a few times and I experienced it myself, I wouldn't let my wife drive the car. We actually rented a car while the dealership tried to determine the cause of the problem. The dealership had it for more than 16 days, the time it takes for the "Lemon Law" to kick in, and all they could conclude was "driver error". Bull shit! The transmission had a well-documented history of "sudden acceleration" and causing collisions, some that were deadly. I went to arbitration with one of GM's Big City Lawyers (she was a bitch!) and their expert witness, a retired mechanic who had no experience with this transmission and after he rambled on about how good the transmission was, I destroyed him with well-documented facts.

caraman. Getty Images.

Nader had all the dirt on "GM Sudden Acceleration" and his group provided me with everything I needed to battle GM

Thanks to Ralf Nader and my strong presentation, we won. General Motors had to buy back the car, pay for the sales tax, any of the aftermarket options, and our car rental bills. On the day the car was being picked I waited patiently and who came to pick it up? The mechanic who GM sent to argue that the transmission wasn't the problem. As he stood in my doorway, I dangled the keys in front of him and when he went to grab 'em, I pulled 'em back, paused for a moment, and said, "This vehicle accelerates on its own… Be. Very. Fucking. Careful!". 

I was told that if Pontiac wanted to sell that Firebird in Massachusetts they would need to put a sticker on it explaining why it was returned under the "Lemon Law", but if they opted to sell it out of state, say Rhode Island, no warning was required…

I grew up believing in this shit: Truth, Justice, and the American Way

I have always fought for "truth, justice, and the American way" no matter the time or expense involved. But recently I started to challenge my beliefs with something much simpler and less time-consuming.

One of my good friends told me he has always stressed to his children that “life isn’t fair”. He said it was important for them to understand that so they wouldn’t dwell on things that hadn’t gone their way. At first, I thought the idea was sheepish, but I’m beginning to understand his way of thinking.

In admitting “life isn’t fair” we give ourselves an out, a way to accept that which we either can’t change or that which has a very low probability of change even after a herculean effort. 

I've always been unwilling to accept that “life isn’t fair” and when I was younger I had the energy and made the time to challenge any decision I didn't believe was right, like I did with GM. I was all about "Bring it on!".

The older I get the more I realize that things aren’t always going to go the way I’d like. Accepting that takes courage just as trying to right it does. But in the larger scheme of things, “life isn’t fair” helps explain a lot of less than desirable outcomes. It softens the personal part of getting a shitty deal and helps to expedite the recovery process, and that's why it's so appealing to me, now.

No, I’m not advocating rolling over at the mere hint of a conflict, but I am seeing that those who accept that “life isn’t fair” have an easier time moving on from some of life’s less than equitable outcomes than those who repeatedly challenge them and have a difficult time letting go…

You've got to know when to hold 'em, Know when to fold 'em, Know when to walk away, And know when to run…

As much as I'd like to be remembered as someone who was always ready and willing to do battle, I now understand that there are times when cutting your losses and moving on can be a better option…

In the end, it is better to have your lemons squeezed than to drive one…