I have spent a good deal of time over the past six weeks trying to track down an electrical problem that was affecting the brakes on my camping trailer. It started on the way home from our Memorial Day camping trip with our good friends the Peers. As I was slowing down, a couple of times, the trailer brakes grabbed, causing a bit of jerking of the car. I thought this could be sort of dangerous, and I decided to have a trailer expert look at the brakes before our June trip to NC. I located a trailer shop nearby and got the trailer in for repairs. They told me that my brakes were completely corroded and frozen up and needed to be replaced. The repair ended up costing me over $450 (for a trailer that is probably only worth about $1500). Ouch!
The worst part is that this didn’t correct the problem.
During and after the trip to NC, we were still experiencing the brake-grabbing under certain conditions. When we returned, I took the trailer back to the shop and complained that the problem had not been solved. I communicated that I did not doubt that the parts that were replaced probably needed to be replaced, but the fact that the problem hadn’t been solved was upsetting. They kept the trailer for a week and examined it. They reported that they could find no problems, and they told me that the problem had to be coming from somewhere else (connection to car? connection to brake controller? wiring in car?)
So, I set out to eliminate the possible causes one-by-one. I wanted to eliminate the easy-to-fix items first. Eventually I had it down to two possibilities: damaged wires in the car, or damaged wires in the trailer. Since the trailer shop had given the trailer a clean bill of health, that meant the problem was in the car. About that time, coincidentally, we replaced our car. I put the trailer on the new car and took it for a test drive. The brakes were grabbing. The problem WAS in the trailer after all, in spite of the assurances from the trailer shop.
I gathered up my wiring tools and supplies and set out to replace wires in the trailer. The first set I replaced turned out to be the ones that were causing the problem. I discovered a connection where the trailer shop had melted some insulation as they were installing the new parts. When this section of wiring was replaced, the problem disappeared. (I know this only explains the problems I was having after the repair job, and it could not have been the cause of the problems I had experienced before the repair job.)
So now I had a new problem. I am upset with the guy at the trailer shop on a number of levels. Why had he given the trailer an all-clear? Why had he been careless in his repairs and melted the insulation? I’ve considered a number of different courses of action in response to this. I’ve considered demanding a refund of at least a part of the labor charges in the repair bill. I’ve considered stopping in to explain the situation and to show him the damaged wires, just as an educational experience for him. In the end, the thing I feel the most compelled to do is to show mercy.
My God tells me that if I want to obtain mercy, I need to show mercy. I think the trailer shop guy clearly made some mistakes. These mistakes cost me a lot of time and headache as I tracked down the source of my brake problem. I think this fellow owes me something for the aggravation. However… I make mistakes too. I make a lot of mistakes. When I do, I know that if someone were demanding restitution, I would be an unhappy person a lot of the time. I need and appreciate mercy when I make mistakes. I’m sure the trailer shop guy is no different than I am in this.
“Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy.” I guess I will let this be my guiding principle in this case.