Dear Monro,

I’ll never forget the good times we had at 5300 Route 42, Turnersville, NJ 08012. I was new to the area and you caught my attention with your loss-leader, sub-$20 oil change; I stopped in to check you out. We’d seen each other on-and-off over the years. I knew you were up to no good when you wanted me to get me to take your wiper blade replacements. I’m not that sort of customer. I won’t let a mechanic change my oil a few times and then let him take advantage of me with his 22" triple-action rubber strips. You pulled back though and let me find my own way. I ran right over to Advance Auto Parts… you know them, right? I went inside to get some blades and naughtily changed them in the parking lot. I started the engine and that’s when our troubles first began… Low Oil Level was just blinking at me, warning me about you. I called and you had me buy oil at the parts store and drive it just down the road to let you fix it. You were there to make everything alright. I was pleased that you admitted that there was a faulty filter install and you compensated me for the oil and additionally gave me a good-will free oil change. Once again you wooed me back to your garage.

When my wife’s 2002 Olds Alero V6 started leaking coolant, your manager and mechanics found the problem. It took a couple trips, but I was made aware of this when the first fix was explained as a potential stop-gap measure. A few hundred miles later I was back again and you replaced my intake manifold with care, precision, and, dare I say it… love. We were inseparable; so how did it ever come to this?

Was it the time my fuel filter was neglected and ultimately resulted in me needing to have the fuel pump replaced? I was many miles away… too far for a tow back to your skillful hands. I thought you understood. I thought we worked through it. But then your manager, Jim Fort, just left. No call. No card. No good-bye. Just. Gone. Maybe that’s when the trouble began.

When Jim left, I started to look elsewhere for the attention, but there are only so many lonely nights on the garage floor wondering when the jack will give up and end it all before a customer finally seeks you out again. And again I found you… this time at 2084 North Black Horse Pike, Williamstown, NJ 08094. This time it was a snowy day in April… yes, April. Do you remember? We had that awful Nor’easter on 4/16/07. I was at work and the Chevy had snow and ice covering the windshield. I stressed the wipers too much and the wiper transmission broke. That’s when I returned. That’s when we saw each other again.

But something was different now. Was it just different mechanics? I’m not sure. But I am sure that your heart wasn’t in it. You let the new guy change the wiper transmission. It took 2 days. Two. Days. That’s a long time that job. And when you finally gave me back my baby, you broke it. The wiper transmission was installed wrong and the wipers wouldn’t return to their resting position. They were at flaccid half-mast, clearing only half the windshield. So you “fixed” it, only to have the wipers slam too roughly back into the resting position. The third time should’ve been the charm. You got the wipers working right, but somehow you managed to make the passenger side wiper fluid sprayer stop working. But I didn’t complain. I knew it was tough on you. And frankly, I didn’t really want to see you for a fourth time. I never did tell you about that. It still doesn’t work to this day.

Then it was back in with the Olds for another repair. She’s getting old now… 160K+ miles. You warned me about a bad tie rod. I knew it was dangerous and I let you fix it. But you didn’t check them all out and 1 oil change later you were telling me I needed another one replaced… along with another $100 alignment. Maybe it was an honest mistake. Maybe there wasn’t a mistake at all, but I started to feel cheated.

Friday, 12/11/09 is when I finally decided something needed to be said. I brought the Olds in to have you replace the serpentine belt. $120 seemed a little high for a belt replacement, but I couldn’t do it without you. But I was watching. Maybe it was your past indiscretions, maybe it was seeing Tiger Woods in the news, maybe it’s the economy… maybe I’m just getting wiser. That’s when I saw it. The $12 shop supply fee. You’d been charging me this all along, haven’t you? What sort of relationship do we have? How could you do this after you mark up the parts so much? I know a $30 belt when I see one. How could you do this after charging an hour’s labor for a 15 minute job?

Monro, I know that we all have flaws. I’m not perfect either. But this shop supply fee - it’s just too much for me to get past. It feels… dirty. Good-bye, Monro. Perhaps, just for old time’s sake, I’ll let you flush my fluids now and then; but when it comes to my real, long-term needs, I think it’s time for me to move on. I’m sorry it’s come to this. I know you’ll understand. Take care, old friend.