I have a pretty good car, meaning it does not have much mechanical trouble. But even first-rate cars need the oil changed, the fluids checked, the tire pressures equalized, and the brakes checked for wear. I think that is called “routine maintenance” in mechanical language.
So, I called the other day and made an appointment to take it in for service. When it comes to cars, I seemed to be blessed with an uncanny ability to have things go amiss. As usual, disaster was but a day away, only I did not know this yet. Naively, I dropped off my car at the dealership in the morning thinking I would give them the whole day to work on it and I would pick it up on my way home.
At noon I received a call at the office: “I just wanted to let you know that we are running behind schedule,” said the service person.
I threw the telephone across the room! “No, not again!” I groaned.
That’s what I wanted to do at any rate. What I actually did was say, “Okay, thank you for calling.” I figured they still had five hours and surely that was enough time for routine maintenance.
At 3 p.m. I received another call: “I don’t think we can get to your car today,” said the voice at the other end, “I hate to have to ask you to bring it back.”
“If you hate to ask me to bring it back, then FIX IT!” I shrieked, slamming down the receiver and kicking the trash can across my cubical.
Well, that’s what I wanted say. What I really said was, “The oil — can you just change the oil and filter? It is 2,000 miles past due.”
“Okay, we will change the oil,” he agreed, as I wept tears of grateful joy.
“I’ll be there at 5 o’clock,” I promised.
At five I showed up at the car dealership, hoping for the best. The invoice showed that they had actually changed the oil. I did a little celebration dance in the middle of the service department floor like a football player who has just scored a touchdown.
Well, that’s what I felt like doing. What I really did was pay the bill and ask for the keys.
They couldn’t find the keys.
“YOU DON’T HAVE THE KEYS?” I controlled myself nicely.
They checked the little hooks where the keys should be. They looked in the car. They disappeared into the back to check with mysterious, unseen mechanics and technicians.
I went into the little room with the plastic furniture and burned coffee and waited, and waited, and waited. I had wrenched my back about week before and it was killing me. I wanted to go home.
“For heaven’s sake, people! I’m a sick woman. Find my keys!”
An hour later, the guy came in, “I’m sorry, but we just can’t find your keys.”
“Do I need to call someone to bring my extra set?”
“That might be a good idea.”
“YOU IDIOTS! Not only did you NOT fix my car, you LOST my keys! How DUMB can you be?” I beat him over the head with my walking cane and kicked his lifeless body to a pulp. That would teach him a lesson.
That’s what I FELT like doing. Instead, I called someone to bring my extra set of keys and waited another thirty minutes until they got there.
On the way home, a warning message on the dashboard flashed, “Oil life remaining 30%.” They didn’t change the oil? I couldn’t believe it. I did a U-turn, drove back to the dealership, and crashed my car through the showroom window, laughing hysterically!
Yes, that’s only what I FELT like doing. Instead I just drove home. A few days later when I could almost control my anger, I went back and talked to the service manager. My keys had still not been found.
“We will make a new key and get a new remote entry for you,” she said.
“Darn right you will! You are lucky I’m not making you change the ignition and door locks. I should sue you.”
Okay, okay, that is only what I felt like saying. Why worry about it? “Surely nothing else will go wrong,” I thought, as I got back in my car.
And, that was when my seat belt buckle jammed.