Annie's Mailbox

Good friend is a lousy mechanic

May 26, 2010

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Q. My father and I co-own a vehicle. I recently had a mechanic friend install some parts for me as payment for baby-sitting his stepdaughter. After he completed the repair, more problems arose. My father took the car in to the dealership, and it turns out my friend caused hundreds of dollars in damage by not installing the parts correctly.

My father says I should bite the bullet and pay for these repairs and learn my lesson about having a friend work on my car. I argue that my friend is a certified and trained mechanic and should be held responsible for the new repairs that need to be done, even though our arrangement was informal.

How do I approach my friend and tell him his repair was faulty? Or is my father right?


A. He should be informed, but don’t be accusatory. Simply let him know what happened after his repair work, and say you “thought he should know’’ in case he comes across a similar situation in the future. He should then offer to reimburse you for the repairs you needed to make because of his incompetence. At the very least, he still owes you for baby-sitting. But if he does not offer, your choice is to let it go or take him to court.

Q. My boyfriend, who has always struggled with mild depression, recently suffered a severe trauma that left him with post-traumatic stress disorder. Because his parents believe that therapy and medication are for “crazy people,’’ he has not received any type of treatment.

Could you suggest some places he could contact for PTSD, stress, and depression? I think talking to an actual person might be just what he needs.


A. We hope one of these excellent organizations will be able to help both of you: The National Alliance on Mental Illness (800-950-6264,; the Anxiety Disorders Association of America (; the Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance (800-826-3632,; Abraham Low Self-Help Systems (866-221-0302,; and the National Center for Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (

Q. I read the letter from “Exhausted Wife,’’ whose husband expects her to pay for her share of their vacations, even though she can’t afford it.

I have spent 40 years married to a loving, wealthy woman who makes at least 10 times what I do. For decades, I struggled (and resented) supplying 50 percent of our common expenses. A few years ago, I started contributing only 10 percent of my income and have managed to accumulate a little savings. She said to contribute whatever I could. She never traveled without me simply because I couldn’t afford the trip.

I suggest that “Exhausted’’ hire a cook and a house cleaner and pay them out of their common income so she feels less exploited.


A. We hope they have a common income she can access. Your wife is sensible enough to understand that the disparity in income means she should pay a higher percentage of the cost. “Exhausted,’’ unfortunately, does not have a spouse like that.

Please e-mail your questions to, or write to: Annie’s Mailbox, c/o Creators Syndicate, 5777 West Century Blvd., Suite 700, Los Angeles, CA 90045.