…and decides that not all cute girls are cute.
Because the snow’s gone and won’t be back for about eight months, it seemed timely to take the car in to have the snow tires removed and at the same time, get the service guys to check the engine light sensor thingy that went on — again. It’s been repaired three times already.
So off to the dealership to get it all done, arrange for a loaner vehicle and the phone call to say my car’s all fixed. That call came at around 1 p.m.
“Ya, hi, this is Mike. We know what’s wrong with your car: it was the water pump, so we replaced it. You can come and get your car.”
“Oh,” I said. “The water pump?”
“Yep. It’s still under warranty. You can come and get your car.”
I was pleased. Still under warranty and hours ahead of schedule. The dealership has always been exemplary and gracious in its customer service: you even get espresso.
So I went down to the dealership where I waited in line looking at all the cool stuff around me, like watches and pens and an attractive woman. Then it was my turn to go to the counter.
“Hi, I’m here to pick up my car and drop off the loaner. Mike called and said it was ready,” I said with a smile, being warm and friendly.
The woman took the keys to the loaner and checked for the paperwork on my car. She frowned and looked in another spot where there were other stacks of papers, then checked her desktop.
“Hmmm. I don’t have it here. If you go to the infodesk, they’ll be able to help you.”
I walked to the centre of the dealership, where the raised round information desk stood and where three young women were sitting, raised above the fray of the dealership floor, and looking down at customers who came to the desk. The girls looked about 12 but were probably 25(ish). I put my uber-professional look on and raised my eyebrow just a titch; enough to match my lipstick. I did not have a good feeling about this.
“Hi, I’m here for my car,” I informed the very cute woman in the centre, still being warm and saying it with a smile. She asked my name and looked at a few screens. She frowned and swiveled her chair to the side turning her body so that she could flip through other stacks of paper.
“It’s not here,” she said. “Are you sure you were called?”
Freeze Frame — Customers make mistakes. Like calling help desk centres saying terrible things about a product that’s not working only to find that they neglected to you know, read the instructions or plug something in, or remove a sticker. GOOD customer service people say to the dumbest of people who call in, “Okay let’s go through this together, starting with all the plug-ins and connections,” and say a few kind words, even though this is the 37th time a customer has made a mistake and called in today. That’s good customer services. It’s also a good way to be kind: generally, customers do not like to be reminded that they are silly. Or stupid.
However, I did not make a mistake, I was not being silly and I was not being stupid. I did not imagine or fantasize or dream up a telephone call from Mike. If I had been wrong and made a mistake, I would have apologized and left there with my imaginary tail tucked between my very real legs. No, I was not wrong. Yes, I was sure Mike called.
Unfreeze — I told the girl that Mike had called me at home, that he had informed me that my car was ready and that I could come down to pick it up. That girl called over another girl who looked at the computer screen, looked through some papers and said, “your car isn’t here. Are you sure Mike called you?”
Okay, I did not smell. I was dressed in a cool and understated fashion, enough to get me checked out by both sexes. Did I have a sign over my head that said be rude to me or something?? Before I could grrrrrr at her she called over the third girl to ask her to check, because clearly, stupidity is made-in-Canada rock solid when three girls barely out of puberty see that the same thing isn’t there. When she couldn’t find it, she called Mike.
I breathed slowly and deeply and became acutely aware of the surroundings. The air in that round station was beginning to bother me. I noticed how the first girl no longer seemed cute. Funny how a pissy attitude can uncute someone in a heartbeat.
Mike came over. “What’s your car?” he asked.
I told him. “It’s not ready,” he said. “I didn’t call you.”
I felt the tips of my ears turn red hot. I blinked slowly, breathing that deep yogic breath, because if I didn’t I would have growled at him and that would not have been nice, because after a growl I would have breathed fire on him. So instead of growling, I asked him in as even and natural voice as I could manage:
“Did you or did you not call me 30 minutes ago and tell me …” and I quoted him word for word everything he said to me in that phone call and watched as he blanched; watched the faces of the three girls as the facts of what happened dawned on them.
Mike was very pale when I finished. He looked at me, stricken.
“Oh my God. I’m sorry. I had two invoices. I must’ve dialed your number and gave you the information from the other invoice. I did call you. I’m SO sorry.”
It seemed obvious that my car was not ready and that my time had been wasted. I looked at him, keeping my face unreadable, waiting to hear what the next step would be. He reached out to touch my shoulder, a gesture of regret and reassurance, perhaps. I moved my torso away from him, backwards from my shoulders. He froze for a moment, then shoved his hand into his pants pocket.
“I’m so sorry. I haven’t made a mistake like that in five years.”
I did not particularly care that he made a mistake: mistakes happen. And I didn’t care that he did this mistake five years ago. I did however, care that four people, employees of a rather posh dealership renowned for customer service, jumped to an incorrect conclusion, acted on a wrong assumption and in questioning me, seemed to imply what; that I was delusional? Wrong? Stupid? A dumb customer?
For a moment and just a moment, I allowed my extreme displeasure at this situation to show in my eyes, to be reflected in a sharper arch of my right eyebrow, and in how I set my jaw. That look. And then I put it away. Smoothed it out. The girls would not look at me. Mike could not apologize enough.
“I’ll call you as soon as it’s done. I’ll get on it right away. I’m so sorry.” he said.
“Please get me keys to the loaner car.” I said.
As I drove home, I worked through the knots of frustration in my body, my anger at that little crew of people who behaved so badly with such certainty of being right. I debated talking to my dealership contact, the one who takes care of everything, who would be mortified by what happened and who would bow, if not grovel. I decided against it for no reason other than being upset, tired and angry. Truth be told, I was more upset with myself because I realized that I was more angry at how the girls treated me than I was at Mike.
It seems no matter what I do to avoid it, I hold women to a higher standard than I do men. I expect women to behave better, to be kinder, more understanding, more communicative, more curious; in short, more sensitive and compassionate in comparison to men. Crazy, I know.
As a woman, I expected those three 20-somethings women (Goddess forgive me) to have a sense of kinship with another woman, a sisterhood. And if not that, then at least be mature enough to avoid voicing assumptions and innuendo until the facts were in and good evidence on hand to support having any opinion.
As a lesbian, I expect women to be better at many, many human interaction things and in particular to be good and sensitive to other women. How nuts am I to expect this?
I know. It’s a bias. Goddess knows I’m trying to work it out. Honest. I might have this bias because I love just about everything about women. (Not PMS.) I seem to expect that women will NOT be strictly linear in their thinking. That they will be more thoughtful, and in being more thoughtful they will avoid the making assumptions and jumping to conclusions and acting without thinking in the way that many men do. I am ALWAYS surprised by women who are thoughtless. So it seems, that my love of womankind leaves me brainless and stupid.
The truth is that those of us with estrogen coursing through our body can be the same as men, for good, evil or mediocrity, with a wonderful ability to express it differently and with a pissier attitude to boot.
Time to face facts: at times, some women can be quite unpleasant. Sometimes, they are not nice at all, at any time to anyone. Those women should NOT be on a customer service desk, because the public is a huge pain in the ass and dealing with it requires self control, patience and a huge amount of self-awareness.
I got home and talked to my dogs who were very understanding.
Mike called an hour later. Turns out it wasn’t the water pump that made the engine light go on after all. It was a software programming error. It needed an update. And it took three trips, three loaner cars and three separate repairs to figure that out.