I got a call from the service manager yesterday evening, saying that the axle re-replacement was done. He wanted me to come in and, "See what you think." He didn't say, "We fixed it," or, "The noise is still there." So, with some trepidation, I went down this morning to have a drive and a listen.
The noise is gone. It really was a bad axle (or a botched installation), and not the flywheel.
I spent some more time talking to my friend Don, the head of the shop, about the whole experience. He told me that even though his mechanic and service writer said they could hear the vibration and noise when revving in neutral, he trusted my opinion more than theirs. We also talked a bit about his service writer. This gentleman is very nice, very efficient, but he came from a Cadillac service department. I think he's used to people pulling up in the STS, dropping it off, and having no interest whatsoever in what is actually wrong with the car. They just want it fixed. So, when faced with a customer who needed detailed explanations, who needed things to make sense, he had a bit of trouble with that. He and the mechanic went to Google to find out what was wrong with my car, rather than take the time to listen to the customer and trust that the customer might, just might, know a thing or two about his own car.
My dealings with Don, and the honest, straightforward way he handled the problem, and the way he valued our our long-term relationship, have saved me as a customer. He said that next time I come in, I should ask for him and he'll write my work ticket. He chuckled and said that he still remembers how. We shook hands, and I gave him a couple of cigars. That's how cars should be fixed.