Friday, April 20, 2012

Life is a Nine-Day Tune-Up

So I took my pick-up in for a tune-up last Tuesday, April 10, 2012. The tune-up had been recommended a few months ago at the time of my regular servicing, and I had to wait to get a little money ahead. I received a much larger speaker fee than I expected for the Las Vegas conference, so I scheduled the servicing.

I made the appointment for 7 a.m. on Tuesday. The Ford dealership is less than half a mile from the office. I would walk to the office from there except I have to cross a busy 5 lane urban highway to do so. Some day I might do that, but the dealership provides a courtesy van, so I took the ride to the office.

I made the appointment for 7 a.m. to give them plenty of time to get the job done on Tuesday. I had no outside appointments, I normally arrive at the office at quarter to 7, so my routine and schedule fit well with that time, the earliest appointment available. Also, I thought if I made the appointment early enough, they will surely get the work done on Tuesday and I wouldn't have to arrange for alternative transportation home, or walk the 15.5 miles.

3 p.m. came by with no call from the shop. I called them. They said they were working on it, had already changed the plugs and determined all wires were good, and were about to test drive it. By 5 p.m. they hadn't called me to say it was ready. I called them again. The test drive showed it was still running rough, so they thought the distributor cap and rotor (or whatever is in a modern distributor) were bad. I authorized the work, but they wouldn't have it done until the next day. I called the wife, and could tell she wasn't thrilled about driving into town to get me, so I arranged with my mother-in-law to borrow her car, and was able to get home. I hated to ask an 87 year old person to drive the three miles in rush hour, so I delayed having her come till after 6 p.m.

By this point I realized what the shop had done. The delayed working on the vehicles of the people who didn't stay to wait on the work, and regardless of appointment time worked on the vehicles of the people who stayed at the shop and waited on the work to be done. That wasn't doing right by their customers, though I understood it.

The same scenario played out on Wednesday. No call, so I called them mid-afternoon. The distributor work didn't fully solve the problem. They were bore-scoping the cylinders to see if a fuel injector was bad. I told them I needed to know ASAP if they would have it done or not, as I had to arrange for transportation. At 5 p.m. he called me to say they weren't done with their evaluation. I drove home again in the m-i-l's car.

The same scenario played out on Thursday. I was very busy and didn't call them. By late afternoon they called me, said it was the #6 fuel injector that was bad, but it was too late in the day to order it in for tomorrow, Friday. They could button everything up and let me have it over the weekend and bring it in again on Monday. Thinking about the shuttle and breaking my Monday morning routine, I told them to keep it.

I don't want to bore you with the Monday-Tuesday-Wednesday scenarios, about leaking manifold gaskets, delays in getting parts in, work being done in the afternoon that should have been done in the morning. They called me Thursday at 9:35 a.m. to say it was ready and running like a new engine. I picked it up Thursday after work, and it is indeed running well.

On the first Tuesday I was mildly angry about the truck not being ready, although I was actually sort of expecting that. On the first Wednesday I was quite angry with the dealership over their delays in working on the truck and for not calling me. On the first Thursday I was irate, and almost blasted them on Facebook. On Friday I was livid, and considered firebombing their building. On Saturday-Sunday I forgot about it as best I could, though I worked through my anger a little. On Monday I was numb. On the second Tuesday I figured they had absconded with the truck and I would be getting an insurance settlement, and was almost happy. On the second Wednesday I was mellow, and decided I would hear when I would hear. On the second Thursday I was back to numb. When I picked up the truck I was very nice, but told them what I didn't like about their business practices.

It seems this is a microcosm of life. People will let you down. Mechanical things won't work, and will seem impossible to fix. Disappointments will abound. Yet always room can be found for joy and contentment. No need to firebomb buildings. Just work through the anger till mellowness sets in.

I must have eaten something at lunch that is making me really, really sleepy. Signing off for a power nap.


storyweaver said...

Dave, One day when you have a life time to listen, I have several stories just like this one. DMV of Georgia I think was the one that brought out my builing bombing desire. Or maybe it was Browns Transmission, or the various list of promised phone calls that I am still waiting on from some 10 or even 20 years ago.... but I too have mellowed, THANK GOD !!!

David A. Todd said...

Suz: I think the DMV is everyone's bete noir. It's certainly a complicated process in Arkansas.