March 21, 2021

The Dealership

By John R. Greenwood 

"Tail Light"
It's no surprise that the online appointment at my local car dealership never reached its intended destination. I would have been more surprised if it had. The young woman at the Service Counter assured me it wasn't a problem. She said there'd been two no-shows anyway, so they would get me in asap. Her voice sounded sincere, but after decades of repair nightmares, my gray-haired skepticism kept me on alert.  I've resigned myself to treating any positive experiences as unexpected gifts. Based on my previous post about refreshing my personal page to positivity, I will keep my word and edit this post accordingly. 

First of all, I have no reason to complain. After years of questionable decisions and limited resources, Mrs. G. and I now own two reliable vehicles. They both have low miles for their age, indicating a lack of car payments with a dash of crossed fingers. They are the two most reliable things on four wheels that have ever parked in our driveway. We consider ourselves extremely fortunate in the transportation department. Even after its long winter slumber, my seventeen-year-old motorcycle with 60k miles started without hesitation. 

I've owned dozens of motorized vehicles in my life. The first was a Lil' Indian minibike with a 3.5hp Briggs & Stratton. It was serviced by the ten-year-old who rode it. I treated it like it treated me—with pure joy. I've tried to recreate the experience of that first taste of freedom for the last half-century. I conclude that the goal is unattainable as a full head of hair and 34 waist Levi's. 

Now back to the dealership. 

This place is as clean as Urgent Care up the road, and everyone is as pleasant as a Holiday Inn receptionist. That's when I wait for the proverbial hammer to drop. 

"Your tires are riddled with road fungus. We can treat them with tire antibiotics for $49.95 per tire. Plus tax."

"I'm sorry for the wait, but we don't carry the rare viscosity oil your car requires, so we had to order it on eBay. It will be here next month. Do you want to make that appointment now or do it online at your convenience?" 

"Did you know there's a recall on the brake pads we installed last year? They say they may burst in flames and fail without warning. Did you want us to take care of that for you? We have an opening in 2022." 

None of these scenarios played out this morning. I'm only two hours in for my, maybe it was, or maybe it wasn't a scheduled appointment, and I'm still in the "positive lane." I'm starving and have a headache, but I remain smiling under my masked facade. I'm praying that if I'm out of here by noon, I'll be okay. 

Another waiting room resident just received her doctor's report. The service rep informed her that her car would be done shortly. She and her two preschoolers were glad to hear the news. Have you ever waited more than an hour with two little ones with no toys and a Deadliest Catch Marathon locked in on TV? She handled the information that even though her tires were still legal, she should consider new ones before the next snowflake hit the ground. No worries, she's told they have a 12-month promotion on tires. Buy three for an inflated price, get the fourth free! If she takes the bait and gets reeled in, I'm confident she'll end up paying for new valve stems. There I go again, drifting over into the opposing lane. This positive reboot may take some time. 

It's the next day, and I'm putting the final touches on this sarcastic slice of reality. In the end, the service on my vehicle was executed without incident, and the bill was fair. They didn't try to upsell me any additional services, and I was home in time for lunch. Whether it's an oil change, tire rotation, or battery replacement, I always feel like I'm involved in high-stakes gambling. I'd label this trip a break-even one. In my book, that rings positive. Tomorrow I head down the Northway for a doctor's appointment. Let's hope that routine maintenance has the same outcome. Doctor visits, another nail biting evaluation that puts us at the mercy of others. After a year of playing Russian roulette with a virus, we could all use some good news. With shot #1 one in my arm and #2 a week away, this spring is shaping up better than the last and just enough to keep me thumbs-up happy.  


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