subtitle: one degree of separation
So far I have had nothing but very pleasant experiences doing business on Maui. Whether it’s garage sales, selling my car, crashing my car, buying a car, finding rental accommodation, or shopping at the farmer’s market, I find people more than courteous and kind to each other.
There is just one degree of separation. Everyone seems to know someone who may know you. You have your reputation to lose if you don’t respect this close connection. I conclude thus: if you are nice, kind, and respectful to each other, doing business is easy. You cannot fault the buyer for not buying because of the way you are.
When I crashed my car in late spring 2011, I remember how polite and kind everyone was — the driver of a car who came to the scene of the accident and knocked on my window, the policeman who showed up, the towing driver, emergency clinic nurses and doctors, and the car towing company staff. Even the folks from my car insurance company were nice to deal with.
When I tried to sell my car subsequently on Craigslist, it was another pleasant experience. I met with three gentlemen on separate occasions. The last one (a forester) gave in to the second. Finally the second one (a mechanic) gave into the first — a firefighter everyone would trust immediately. He paid me cash the day before I left the island for the summer.
Recently I spotted a gem of a car online. After browsing Craigslist for a month, I was immediately inspired to see it. The young mechanic, who had been regularly servicing it on behalf of the female owner, picked me up and drove me to see the twilight blue convertible. On the way there, we struck an instant rapport. He thought I was a local because of my tan and casual outfit. He asked me where I was from. It seems that every other person I meet has ancestry in Okinawa, the island where I grew up.
I put a deposit down for the car as I was running out of time that afternoon. Over and over I went through the details in my head. I couldn’t sleep that night. It would have been easy to say I could not afford the car as it had been repriced at a thousand dollars more than I had in mind. But how could I say no after all that the mechanic did for me?
He picked me up. He showed me the car. He sat with me as I drove it to the owner’s office. He introduced me to the owner and her husband. He drove me to a nearby supermarket to take out $100 cash for the refundable deposit and drove back to the office. He drove me to get a quote from an auto insurance company. He dropped me off at my next destination.
In the morning, I called the owner and apologised for not being able to follow through. I told her that I wasn’t ready for her beautiful car. Her cheque for my deposit arrived the within a few days.
I am still looking for a car. In the mean time, I have bought a brand new bicycle. My world is getting a little bigger. But I still prefer to walk.
I have finally found a place to live. It’s close to the swimming pool and my place of work. Although I have not paid a deposit or seen the rental agreement, both the estate agent and I know that we will seal the deal this week when I bring my cheque book and she brings the front door key. It’s that simple. Trust.