it was one of those wide enough for bagels , right ?

I was sitting in the Toyota dealership waiting area today  . My car had been taken away . I watched the ceiling meet the walls ,  twenty feet up ?  Easy listening rock played from one side and the humming voices from a tv rasped out sporadically from the other side .  I had tried to find the dead zone , the quiet . None available .Toyota Pasadena

Technicians , salesmen , and others padded by softly on the white linoleum floor like surgeons headed to and from the operating room , car ICU nurses ready to go to work , scrub personnel readying the operating theaters .

The music playing should maybe have been Willie Nininger’s ballad SAVE THE LIFE OF MY CAR , I was thinking  .   Please , Mr. Mechanic , save the live of my car .  I sipped coffee , and then hot chocolate  from the fancy  machine against the wall . People whispered to one another . I had a book to read . Others picked up the newspaper pages  scattered around , pathetically pretending to be interested in a world outside of Toyota .

I looked over toward the sales department every so often , wondering if I’d see some salesperson wheeling and dealing with a customer . I saw none in the hour or so I was there . I heard no ” I’ll have to go ask my manager ” ruses . Saw no activity at all , except for the bored-looking  squat and swarthy little  salesman who exited his office  at some point and headed for the restroom .

The service department was humming , though . A row of little cubicles stretched out along the side of the building , each with its own door to the outside . Customers strolled in , one here , one over there , to be greeted by friendly polo-shirted clerks  . The paper-work , I noticed , refers to these clerks  as ” advisors ” .  My advisor is named James . James advised me when I’d brought the car in for its 5000 mile checkup , too . I pointed that fact out to James when he asked me if I had brought the car there  for service before this . James nodded . ” I remember the reflectors , ” he said . I had put little reflector disks on the front and rear of the car and one on each side .  James seemed a little disturbed by this , as if I had sprinkled more salt and pepper  on an  already perfectly seasoned meal ;  but he kept his repulsion fairly well hidden . He had the same reaction last time , too . His slightly twisted smile said :  Who puts little plastic reflectors on a brand new car ?

The Toyota advisors , I might advise , should maybe keep a little cheat-sheet of notes , like the dentist does , of personal information about the client so they can begin a  conversation a year or so later as if they really cared and had seen you last week . ” So , how did the trip to Canada go ? ” or ” Your boy  started court reporter school recently , didn’t he  ? ”  or ” How’s that German shepherd of yours ?  Still chewing the furniture ? ”  He cares ! He really cares !

James  had said the service would take about an hour . ” Will you be waiting ? ”   For the next hour I heard ” Will you be waiting ? ” voiced by a variety of advisors from their many little  cubicle offices .  Once or twice a big-bellied man crossed the expansive waiting area asking ” Anyone want a shuttle ? ”   Anyone want a shuttle was one of the alternatives to ” Will you be waiting ? ”   I heard one woman say she’d be going across the street .  I felt like telling her that she didn’t know what she’d  be missing . She was probably headed to the Starbucks to while away the hour with a latte grande gluten-free macchiato and perhaps a blueberry and gorgonzola scone . She might have saved her treasure , had something to later pay the Toyota cashier with , had she stayed to get her cup of coffee free from the fancy  machine against the waiting room wall . She was out before I could share that vital  information with her .  To expect the Toyota advisor to advise her about this I suppose is too much to expect .

After exactly an hour , my advisor , James , walked over with the data about my vehicle on his clipboard . He had that neutral professional expression ; or , rather , lack of any expression , on his face . It took him  fifteen or twenty  seconds to cross from his little cubicle to where I had planted myself on the soft-cushioned chair . I had just freshened up my coffee , too .

Those fifteen  seconds were , as you can imagine , fraught with tension . Was he headed toward  me ? Were they done already ?  Would it be good news ? Or disaster ?  Sorry , Dan , but your crankshaft is shot ; your suspension is gone ; and the front struts were just about to tear through the engine block . Someone could have been killed . Lucky you came in when you did .  The good news is we can fix it for about the cost equal to  the national debt of Ecuador .  Do you want the shuttle to take you home ?

” Everything looks good . Brakes are 90% . The windshield wiper fluid was a little low . Everything else looks good . And , this is your 10,000 mile checkup which is covered by warranty so there’s no cost to you . ” That’s what James said .

” Thank you , James .”

” Have a nice day ,” he said . ” And , by the way , did you and Ada buy that new toaster  that you were thinking about getting ? And , say hello to the grandchildren for me . How old is the little one ,  Frankie  , now ?  How are Alicia’s swimming lessons coming along ? “


Filed under humor

4 responses to “it was one of those wide enough for bagels , right ?

  1. I dropped my car off for a recall repair and an oil change at 7:00 am on Monday. At 3:45, they hadn’t started. Neither the “Scheduler” nor my “Service Advisor” had enter the car’s details in all the right palces. So the “Dispatcher” didn’t know the car was there. Instead of picking my car up, I got to wait an hour. You painted a very good picture of that hour here.

  2. Those personal touches mean so much. I love being able to ask my doctor how her girls are doing in school and she asks me about my sons in Chicago. I like to know people by name. Take care Dan, and say hi to Ada for me!

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