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Free marriage ceremony

The following is supposedly a true story. To be included, besides being true, the story is most likely strange, weird, surprising, or funny.

Farmer's Branch, Texas:

Customers waiting for car repairs at Swedish Auto Incorporated now have an alternative to reading old magazines.

William Signs, owner of the garage, is offering a free marriage ceremony with any 30,000-mile inspection on Hondas, Volvos and BMWs. For the $290 price of the inspection, he will throw in the cost of being married by the local justice of the peace, a $25 value.

The inspection comes with a warranty, but there is no guarantee on the marriage. Then again, the justice of the peace, Judge Bob Forman, suggests, Maybe the car will break down and the marriage won't. He says he hasn't seen anything like this stunt since his days as a practicing attorney, when a client asked him to draw up wills for employees in lieu of cash bonuses at Christmas.

Signs said he got the idea during a trip to Las Vegas, where he noticed a helicopter operator offering free marriage ceremonies with the purchase of a deluxe helicopter ride. He decided to borrow the concept and bring some joy to the unhappy business of auto repair. Normally people don't get good news at auto shops, he adds.

The mechanic isn't concerned about his offer hastening the nuptials of mismatched partners or cheapening the institution of marriage. After all, 30,000-mile inspections aren't inexpensive. They're going to have to spend almost $300. he says.

If the promotion proves popular, Signs is prepared to expand it to providing one-size-fits-all tuxedos and wedding dresses of the type that grooms and brides easily slip into at high-volume Las Vegas wedding chapels. For customers whose marriages fall apart, Signs is considering another bargain -- an uncontested divorce after four 30,000-mile inspections, a $100 value.

To advertise the promotion, Signs sent out a mailing to prospective customers and placed an ad on the side the shop van. But the ad began two months ago, and so far no one has taken Signs up on it. He has, however, heard lots of giggles and guffaws from people who call or stop to ask if the deal is real.

Meanwhile, his own Volvo is approaching another 30,000-mile point, and he's worried that his girlfriend may notice and pressure him to cash in on his own offer. To avoid that, he says he's considering disabling his odometer.

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