Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Car Talk: The Verbose Edition

On Monday, I took my car in to get it 'smogged.' Of course, I went to my neighborbood SpeeDee Lube to get the job done. Steve Meece had the same thing done not five hours earlier; he was in and out in less than twenty minutes. My experience lasted approximately forty-nine hours!

Kristin and I rolled up to the joint (in my white-girl silver Saturn) at about 3:30 on Monday. We were told that it would take about an hour, as there were a few cars in line before us. Wanting to do a little retail therapy, we decided to leave the car and hike across Monte Vista to our favorite Turlock retail outlet, TJ Maxx. At around 4:30, as promised, the nice reception lady called and said that my car was done and I should come pick it up. I hurried back across to pick up my car, leaving Kristin behind to pay for our goods. ( I got an awesome Kitchenaid Spatula for $3! But I digress...) I gave them my trusty discount coupon and paid for services rendered. I asked if there was any problem, and the nice receptionist replied that she had heard nothing. So, happy as can be, I got in the car put the car in gear and ... my poor Saturn jumped forward. *What just happened?* Thinking I simply had not applied enough pressure to the brake when putting the car in gear, I headed back toward TJ Maxx to pick up Kristin. But something was very wrong with the car. Throughout the entire drive (all whopping .17 miles)the car jumped forward anytime the transmission shifted gear and as I pulled up next to Kristin, the car began to idle louder or more quickly. Then, the Service Engine Soonlight clicked on. Kristin demanded "Take it back. Now."

So I proceeded back to SpeeDee Lube, about ten minutes before closing time. Several garage-men were standing around, gossiping closing up shop, when I approached one of them about the noise and the jumping. Eventually, the man who worked on the car (let's call him the dude) walked over and when I talked to him about what was happening, he said that 'it was like that when I got it.' Then his neighbor garage-man reminded him that the service engine light could not have been on or it would not have passed smog. The dude then changed his story to 'well it did that as soon as I completed the test.' When I suggested that maybe his testing method knocked something loose and that he should fix it, he changed his story again saying he never noticed anything. I was losing a lot of patience with this dude. I asked that he please look at it and fix it. The dude used some garage-man toy and looked up the service code, looked under the hood, jiggled something and said he could not help me. *Are you F'in kidding me?!?* Then the other garage-men gathered around the dude. Eventually I got about three different stories, with one common theme: you need to talk to the manager. But, he was not there. Great.

I got the manager's name from one of the garage men and called first thing the next morning. After I sputtered out the details of my experience, Manager-man politely said I just needed to bring it in and he would look at it. I did so immediately after work. I arrived at about 3:35. Manager-man takes my car. I sit. I talk with the nice receptionist-girl. I sit some more. At about 4:15, Manager-man takes a seat next to me. He tells me that he is very sorry about the confusion. They have looked into the problem and that it appears to have been an unfortunate coincidence. *I don't think so. I think the dude did it, and his story changed three times to try and cover up his mistakes.* I replied that if he can prove that his garage-men did not cause the problem, I would be happy to pay for the services I will receive in repairing the car, as I am not the kind of person to go fishing for free services. Coincidence or not, he says that they are getting the needed part, that it 'only costs about $13' and that he would be willing to 'eat the cost of the part.' *Sigh. Fine.* I sit. I sit more. I sit until 5:15, fifteen minutes after closing. Manager-man then proceeds to tell me that it was not what they thought, and that one of the garage-men thought he had the right part at home. I needed to come back tomorrow and they would fix it. 'Worse case scenario, I'll charge you for the part.'

Less than wenty four hours later, I pulled into SpeeDee Lube. I was greeted by a smiling garage-man who happily informed me that they were going through some parts to find what they needed and that it would just be a few minutes. I was sitting in the lobby once again. I was kind of annoyed. I mean *hello* I came in for a routine Smog Check, and nearly forty-eight hours later I am back dealing with a problem that didn't exist in the first place. As I glanced at People magazine, staring at pictures of Tiger Woods' mistresses, I realized that this whole deal could have been a whole lot worse: manager-man could have refused to look at my car, and they could have been rude. But they were not. None of the people I interacted with were unpolite. Quite the contrary, everyone was very nice and polite. And I appreciated that. About ten minutes later, another garage-man informed me that my car was done. I thanked him, drove my repaired car to Costco, and bought them some cookies.

My car is fixed. Everyone was very nice to me. I am pretty sure that deserves a cookie.

1 comment:

  1. I almost forgot the best part.... As I walk toward my car, after handing the garage-men their 'Thank you for being nice to me and fixing my car' cookies, one of the smiling garage-men yelled from around the corner, "Hey, there goes our new favorite customer!"