So a lesbian takes her car to get serviced…

…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.

“Hello?”

“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.

About FS

Toronto, Canada. Writing about slices of life, the moments and minor details of which come into awareness or out of imagination and the spaces inbetween. On hiatus from writing anywhere else but here ... at least for now.
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14 Responses to So a lesbian takes her car to get serviced…

  1. laurie sawyer says:

    Women can seem to have quite the attitude when they are looking down on someone. Ever seen the movie “mean girls”?
    I also don’t like going to the car dealership because as a woman I feel like I always will get taken advantage of either by insisting I need something additional and more expensive or talking to me like I am three!

    • fs says:

      Laurie; I haven’t seen the movie…is it something I should see? You know, this was the first time that this has happened to me, or at least that I was aware of it — and I’m none too pleased. Dealerships are notorious for upselling and jargonizing, and I for one don’t fall for it. Do you think it’d be different if there were more women mechanics? (Hmmm ponders a new career….) 🙂

  2. bookish butch says:

    I’ve worked in customer service all of my working life, the service you received, sucked was unprofessional and just plain unacceptable. You know, I do expect more from women. I am so sick of people justifying their incompetence instead of just apologising. When did bad or ordinary service become the norm? and it’s not generational either, older people give bad service and younger people good. I figure it’s probably the decline of civilisation:-)

    • fs says:

      BB: And I am betting that you are good to/with people. You are also brave: working with the public is hard emotional labour. The decline of civilization… Wow. We could SO have a conversation. There’s enough going on in the world to prove either point. No doubt at tall that many things are in flux, the likes of which have not been seen for a few hundred years. Only now, the news travels faster. Ponder this from the New York Times: “Now, after a computer analysis of three decades of hit songs, Dr. DeWall and other psychologists report finding a statistically significant trend toward narcissism and hostility in popular music. As they hypothesized, the words “I” and “me” appear more frequently along with anger-related words, while there’s been a corresponding decline in “we” and “us” and the expression of positive emotions. I’m wondering if it’s a musical chicken and egg situation? The sentiment is in the music makers, or the music makers are reflecting a social movement? Mix of both? That whole service with a smile..? A 20th century invention. A GOOD invention. BB: in your readings, don’t all civilizations have an expiry date? Fade in and out?

  3. It seems that you have presented both a question and an answer with this.

    Why would these women behave this way?

    Clearly, it’s a software (read:brain) programming error, and odds are it’s going to take a few trips before it gets worked out.

    That happens. I tend to like cars, myself, as they’re 100 times more dependable than women.

    • fs says:

      Princess… oh my goddess I LOVE cars: I’m looking to get a gull-winged Mercedes, to tool around town in. There are so many avenues to follow with this: women in their 20s and their interaction/behaviours with women NOT in their 20s; human expectations…and when the service provider is wrong, just to name a few. Or maybe it’s just me and I am too easily disappointed by people not living up to my ideals ;-). Are not dogs more dependable than cars..?

      • What I know for certain is I can depend on my cat to plop in my lap when I am feeling sad. Of course, my partner does that too. Come to think of it, I’ve got it pretty good…

      • fs says:

        Princess…. hmmm if your car does that then I’m thinking, baby, you rock and you’ve got it great!

      • Oh no, my CAT does that. My car in my lap would be very painful.

      • fs says:

        Princess <laughing> hmmmm. Indeed, it would. It would also likely get you into the Guinness Book of World Records for two reasons: 1) as proof of the dependability of your car (it can be counted on not only to run you places, and sits in your lap to comfort you) and 2) the world’s strongest lap.

  4. Terrisita says:

    By the way, my dear friend….I just read our exchange (ok, your blog, my response…no REAL exchange yet!) to Ran, and he thinks you should send your part to the dealership…his take is that they can’t fix what they don’t know is broken…(and he started in on me again to write (are you two in cahoots??).

    • fs says:

      My Dearest T: I do not cahoot with anyone so you needn’t worry. Under normal circumstances, I would have called and registered my unpleasant experience. There were just too many other things going on and I suppose it was not a priority. Ran however, is quite right. The window of opportunity has passed — if it is not done within a certain time frame, it does not have any weight.

  5. Terrisita says:

    NOT FINISHED YET. Hate when this happens. (Try to correct a spelling error, and end up POSTED!!) deep breath…” Like my BFF, my Sista, my biological sister. (not even NEAR a Sista!) OK, FCS. I Don’t love almost EVERYTHING about women. Or anyone. My experience has been with humans, over the last … (OMGoddess!! Who is counting??) actually kinda negative, when it comes to “dealing with the sexes”. You understand my ambiguity…you have witnessed (albeit from a very safe distance) The twists and turns of my “so called life”….I believe we gravitate to the people (not gender specific) that soothe and nurture our souls/selves. That is not to say that alot of “cosmic dust” doesn’t come our way….we just need to discern when to put on our little aluminum foil caps and STOP those evil wavelengths. ANYWAY, rambling on. So glad that you are still writing this blog (even if I have to check 3 times a day that you have posted.) In conclusion, at least for the moment, bottom line. Keep the chicas who don’t have the skills off the customer service line. (They can type and file, right??) Otherwise, only pleasant people should attend to customers needs. So there.

  6. Terrisita says:

    Oh Baby. You FINALLY admitted a hidden piece of MY reality. (Ok, not necessarily hidden per se, but definitely shoved to the bottom of the clothes hamper). It is truly within reason to love women, but realize they are painted with that same horrid brush that makes them human (oh, yeah, and fallible). I long ago stopped expecting the “sister-hood” or the kinship or the shared estrogen to bring us “together”. Cute…you can read, “like my BFF, my Sista.

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