If you have watched a recent congressional hearing on a nominee for a lifetime appointment on the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia that went badly for the nominee, you probably have an inkling of what this is about. Please forgive me. I could not help myself.
Company Board Chair: Hello, Mr. Val Stem, I understand that Mr. Trump at Company Headquarters has nominated you for our company’s prized position of master mechanic. You know you will have the title and the power that comes with it for as long as you are with the company. Your decisions will play a major role in how well we repair some cars and how they will be maintained over the years. It will mean a lot to the customers and especially safety on the highway.
Mr. Stem: No doubt I am your man, sir. Mr. Trump and all the president’s men would not have nominated me if they did not believe in me.
Board Chair: OK, Mr. Stem, have you ever done repair work in a shop that fixes foreign-made vehicles?
Stem: No, sir. But I drive a Volvo, and I know where a few of those repair shops are located.
Board Chair: What about a shop that repairs American-made cars?
Stem: No, sir, not the repair part. I can’t say that I have. But I know there are a lot of those shops. I see the signs.
Board Chair: Have you ever worked on a transmission or a lighting system?
Stem: No, sir.
Board Chair: A brake drum?
Stem: (Laughing) We used to do that dance in high school.
Board Chair: What? Uh, have you ever checked the pressure in a tire?
Stem: Sounds medical. No, sir.
Board Chair: Rotated tires?
Stem: Is that a trick question? Tires do that when you are driving.
Board Chair: Do you know what a motion in limine is? Oops, sorry, wrong interview. Have you ever described the work you were going to do on a car to a customer? You know, the process from start to finish on the labor and the parts you were going to use?
Stem: I’m trying to recall. I have not done that extensive work before. However, I told a customer where the restrooms were and that we might have to keep the car overnight. Now, the technical language of what you are talking about is something that I intend to educate myself on, but right now I am not that secure in discussing in detail at this time.
Board Chair: OK, I understand, I think. Do you know what a piston is?
Stem: That I think I do know. They play for Detroit in the NBA, right? I know a couple of their players from their championship team. Is there someone in particular you want me to name?
Board Chair: No, Mr. Stem, I was talking about a piston in a car engine. You do know what I’m talking about, don’t you?
Stem: Sir, you are trying to throw another trick question at me. I really do know all of the Pistons. Just give me a name.
Board Chair: Never mind. Have you ever fixed a flat?
Stem: Uh, no. My driver would do it or my dad would call someone. My girlfriend shuddered one day when I said I was considering learning how to take that tire thing out of the trunk and get those other big metal thingies and change a tire. It looks really complicated.
Board Chair: Mr. Stem, have you ever changed the oil in your car?
Stem: That’s another trick question. Why would I do that? The car companies put perfectly good oil in the car when you get them. If you are having to change your oil, you ought to file a complaint with the Attorney General Office’s Consumer Watchdog team.
Board Chair: I am confounded about you wanting to be our master mechanic. You don’t seem to know much about the job, other than you worked somewhere at or around a car dealership.
Stem: Mr. Board Chair, all the president’s men said these interviews would be a breeze. They said Mr. Trump just wanted people who would make certain that positive decisions are made on cars of owners that he liked and negative decisions on people who brought in cars that he didn’t like. There are a lot more nominees like me with the same credentials.
Board Chair: I understand and support that because I am one of the president’s men, too. But don’t you think you ought to at least have been involved in something to do with vehicle repair for this crucial position? And just between you and me, I hope this back and forth helps me out when I seek another position at the regional office.
Now back to you. Do you even know what a crank shaft is?
Stem: Gotcha on that one. Great black movie from back in the '70s. Watched it twice.
Email Edward Pratt, a former newspaperman who writes a weekly Advocate column, at firstname.lastname@example.org.