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Hope I don’t see you soon

November 20, 2013
By Larry DeHays , Fort Myers Beach Bulletin, Fort Myers Beach Observer

"Goodbye and I hope I don't see you too soon," said the smiling customer as he went out the door. We get a lot of that in our business.

"We're here if you need us," is our usual reply.

We understand the implication, for sure. I once said the same thing to my dentists' receptionist. She, however, had not developed the necessary skin thickness, and looked like I had broken her heart.

"I'm so sorry" she said, "Did you have a bad experience?"

"No no," I lied, "it was fine. No problem."

Actually, I think having someone grinding on my teeth is about the worst possible experience, except maybe having bamboo slivers shoved under my fingernails. Having a machine repaired is quite a bit further down the list for me. Some people, however, have a very bad time with it. Some display anger, some are resigned to their fate, some shed tears all over the front counter. Some feel that their time, and their problem, is the most important in the world.

"I just need someone to take a look at it. It'll only take a minute," says the tearful lady. Actually, absolutely nothing of any value can be done in a minute, in the car repair world, anyway.

"We have 22 cars ahead of you, but we'll work you in, as soon as we can."

"But I have to be someplace in half an hour! It may not be safe."

The mental, and only mental, response might be: "Failure to provide maintenance time on your part, does not constitute an emergency on our part." The verbal response goes something like: "Okay, I'll have someone take a quick look at it for you."

A technician is asked to look at the car. He puts down his tools and goes to wash his hands. One minute. The customer he is working for has been standing outside the door watching him and immediately asks why he is quitting. Two minutes. Apologies are offered, as the situation is explained.

Customer one is not amused. The tech locates the new arrival's car, it is locked. He goes into the waiting room to find the keys, but she has them with her in the ladies room. Three minutes. She gives him the keys and begins a rambling account of where she has been driving and why, as they go back to her car. Four minutes. He starts it up, and raises the hood and says he doesn't hear the noise she complains of. She says no, you have to be driving to hear it. Five minutes. He checks with the boss, who says to go ahead with the test drive. You're already invested in it this far. Six minutes. After a test drive, the tech reports that the problem is a wheel bearing and it will have to be raised on a lift to determine which one. Ten minutes. A lift is procured, the car is lifted, the faulty wheel identified. The lady asks how much. 15 minutes. The estimator goes to work looking up the part prices and labor times and charges, and gives her an estimate. "Why didn't you detect this when I was in for an oil change last month?," she asks. 20 minutes.

"When are you going to finish my car?," asks customer one. "Right now." says the tech.

"I'm not paying for the time you spent with her." says customer one.

"You're not going to charge me just for looking at it are you? You didn't actually fix anything. My boyfriend says he can fix the bearing. Goodbye, and I hope I don't see you too soon," says the lady. 30 minutes.

"Me too," mumbles the manager. Obligatory smile included.



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