One of the wisest men I know is a West Lothian motor mechanic. Maybe all that time spent lying beneath cars is a sort of meditation; I don’t know. But he has come up with some remarkable philosophical questions and concepts over the years.
For example, one of his questions is the Point Nine.
It’s all to do with petrol prices. Have you noticed that the price per litre displayed on garage forecourts is always an understandable price, plus a mystical Point Nine? You haven’t? Well have a look the next time you’re passing a garage. Unleaded Regular £1.37.9. What IS that point nine?
Is that something the fuel companies get to keep to themselves over and above the profit? With millions of litres of petrol being poured into the tanks of cars up and down the country, that’s a LOT of Point Nines.
And if you put in EXACTLY one litre of fuel… how do you pay them the Point Nine? And what would happen if you just rounded it up and waited for your change – which would be a Point One. It’s a conundrum.
The Master Motor Mechanic also has a philosophical theory of The Last Minute. That’s when people have worked out that it takes exactly 28 minutes to get from their house to their work. So they leave exactly 28 minutes before they are due to arrive at work… And that’s when problems start.
They turn the ignition key of their car, and the engine just goes ‘clunk!’. Now they don’t have time to make other arrangements. There is no way to make it to work on time.
The Mystic Mechanic says: “Only in that Last Minute does their whole world fall apart.”
He tells me that he regularly gets frantic phone calls from incredibly stressed out individuals. They’ll have to miss work. The kids won’t be able to go to school. They can’t get to the shops and the refrigerator is empty… And the whole problem began in The Last Minute.
These are only two of the Great Philosophical Quandaries that this mechanic ponders while meditating on his back in a pool of oil. If it is the job of a philosopher or guru to help you see the world in a new light, then my mechanic friend meets that criterion on all counts.
So it’s not just in the Far East that mystics and philosophers ponder the great questions of life. West Lothian has its very own Murieston Maharishi. I expect soon he’ll have hordes of followers hanging on his every utterance.
I just hope he finds time to service my car.