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Not Great With English, But Excellent With Cars!

, , , , , , | Working | September 28, 2021

Recently, I have had a number of halogen headlights blow far sooner than they should. I go to a chain of motor factors and ask them for LED headlights instead, which are more durable. They assure me they are compatible and legal.

A car needs a safety inspection — “MOT test” — by the government every year. Some weeks later, mine is due.

Inspector: “I’m afraid your car will fail. Your headlights are too dim.”

Me: “Huh? It was only installed a month ago at [Motor Factors].”

Inspector: “My equipment says they aren’t bright enough.”

Me: “There’s a [Motor Factors] up the road. My bicycle is on the back of my car. I can cycle up, buy new bulbs, and be back in five minutes.”

Inspector: “You’ve already failed. Sorry, mate, there is nothing I can do. Fix it and book a new test.”

After the inspection…

Inspector: “I’m going to pass you, with an advisory on one condition. I am ordering you to have these lights sorted. Immediately. Like you say, there’s a [Motor Factors] up the road.”

Me: “Thanks, buddy. I’ll do that.”

I go direct to [Branch #1]. I had the headlights changed at [Branch #2], but they’re the same chain, right? I explain to the cashier.

Me: “Hey, fellas. I had my headlights changed at [Branch #2] three weeks ago. I’ve just come from the MOT, but they are too dim.”

Employee #1: “Really? I’ll get a colleague. Hey, [Employee #2] help…?” *Points to me*

Me: “[My Name].”

Employee #2: *In a foreign accent* “Hello, Mr. [My Name]. Where car?”

I take him to my car in the car park.

Employee #2: “What is problem happened? How help?”

Me: “It failed the MOT because the headlights your colleagues installed at [Branch #2] are too dim.”

Employee #2: “Really, MOT fail?”

Me: *Thinking carefully* “Yes, it failed the MOT.”

Employee #2: “Open front, please Mr. [My Name].”

I open the bonnet and he examines the headlights. [Employee #3] arrives.

Employee #2: “Oh, dear. That reverse light.”

Me: “Huh? No, buddy, that’s a headlight. The reverse light is at the back.”

Employee #2: “Is reverse. I sure. Very ‘oh, dear.’”

Me: “But we’re at the front of the car?” *To [Employee #3]* “What’s going on here? Why is he telling me I have reverse lights in the front of my car?”

[Employee #3] looks at the car and then responds in a local accent.

Employee #3: “He means they’re supposed to be headlights, but the bulbs are reverse lights.”

Employee #2: “Also is LED. Is wrong. Must be halogen. Maybe Lambo Maserati Xenon LED. Or Mercedes.”

Me: “Maserati… What? This is a cheap car. What is going on?”

Employee #3: “I think he means you have reverse lightbulbs for headlights, which if true, would explain why they are dim. I haven’t seen for myself, but [Employee #2] has never been wrong. He doesn’t understand why you have LEDs on a car like this.”

Me: “Car… like this? Pardon?”

Employee #3: “I’m sorry, that’s badly phrased. Normally, only luxury cars have LED headlights. For example—”

Me: “A Maserati?”

Employee #3: “Yes. [Employee #2] thinks that your car should have cheaper halogen bulbs because, erm, it’s a value brand. That’s what it would have been sold with.”

Employee #2: “Yes, a value cheap like this car.”

Me: “Now I understand… but your colleagues at [Branch #2] installed it. I told them halogen bulbs weren’t lasting me, so I wanted LED headlights, instead.”

Employee #2: “No LED! Need halogen. [Employee #3], I get halogen for the Mr. [My Name]. I think half price.”

Employee #3: “No. Please, [Employee #2], get the boss? Because this is [Motor Factors]’s mistake, it is his responsibility.”

Employee #2: “I get big boss!”

Employee #3: *To me* “Don’t mind [Employee #2]. He has trouble expressing himself, but he understands everything. He’s an automotive electrician.”

A manager arrives.

Employee #3: “Hey, boss. What happened — I think — is this gentleman had problems with halogen headlights blowing, so he asked [Branch #2] to install LED headlights. They did that and now he’s failed his MOT because they are too dim.”

Manager: “Well, yes. Headlights are brighter than a reverse light. So, obviously. Hey, [Employee #2], can you swap a headlight and reverse light?”

Employee #2: “Now you want me to swap reverse light with headlight? Silly idea with a crazy man!”

Manager: “No, I mean ‘is possible to swap’.”

Employee #2: “Yes, is possible. Swap easy. Same size, voltage, everything. For this cheap car, headlight is halogen, reverse is LED. Maybe why the mister have wrong LED headlight dim. Our computer, it no can research LED headlight for cheap car like this. So instead, [Branch #2] they fit headlight because also fits. Silly people. They no understand reverse light too dim for headlight.”

Manager: “Right, I’m sorry for your trouble. What has happened, I think, is when you asked [Branch #2] for an LED headlight, they couldn’t find one for your car. Our system is programmed to only offer LED headlights to cars originally sold with LED headlights. Yours would have been halogen. To satisfy you, they used a reverse light. They thought that they would get away with it because it fits, but maybe they didn’t understand that it is too dim to be a headlight.”

Me: “Now I understand… but I failed my MOT? And I need new headlights?”

Manager: “We’ll pay for the re-test. I’m sorry this has happened; I’ll feed it back to Head Office as a learning point. Hey, [Employee #2]?”

Employee #2: “I halogen headlight get for the mister?”

Manager: “Yes, please, for… the customer. Please, can you install them?”

Employee #2: “Charge free discount fifty?”

Manager: “Pardon?”

Employee #2: “Yes! Do I charge the mister, or is free? Or I discount?”

Manager: “No, it’s free. Because our friends at [branch #2] made a mistake.”

Employee #2: *To me* “I free your lightbulbs! Please open bonnet? Or… hood, is American? I give you will have good brand, not [Motor Factors] trash.”

Manager: *Cracking up* “That’s fine. Give him a good brand. This customer is a regular here. I believe him without the receipt.”

[Employee #2] arrives with two lightbulbs. He removes both old bulbs — one per hand — and installs the new ones — one per hand — all in about five seconds flat.

Employee #2: “Okay, you Mr. [My Name], please enter car, and turn on lights because test.”

I start the engine and turn on the lights.

Employee #2: “Very nice. Like Nicole Scherzinger, your pretty girlfriend.”

Manager: *Cracking up again* “[Employee #2], we don’t make presumptions!”

Employee #2: “Tom Cruise? Maybe you like men. So then I can have Nicole.”

The manager looks horrified. I nearly fall over laughing and the boss relaxes.

Employee #2: “Now you pass MOT! Please, you go to [Government Agency] Internet website. Make new test. Anything new, Mr. [My Name]? No? Nice weekend, pleasure meet!”

[Employee #2] went back inside the store, followed by the boss and [Employee #3] in fits of laughter. I just felt guilty for saying it failed instead of passed with an advisory.

When The Employee Is Agitated, It’s Usually Because Of The Customer

, , , , , | Right | September 16, 2021

I run the office in a small family-owned auto repair shop. The owner is also the lead technician, so his days are very busy working on cars along with the duties of running the business. My job is to take care of everything I can on the business end so he’s free to concentrate on the repairs. Our policy is that the owner does not take phone calls, especially cold sales calls. If a customer or known vendor needs to speak to him and it’s something I can’t help with, the owner takes the call, of course. We get annoying sales calls all day, every day — my least favorite part of my job.

A youngish-sounding woman calls and asks to speak to “the owner.” She doesn’t call him by name, although she could find that information on our website in about three seconds.

Me: “I’m sorry, he’s not available. May I help you?”

Caller: “No, I need to talk to the owner. When’s a good time to reach him?”

Me: “I’m sorry, he doesn’t take calls. May I help you?”

Caller: “He doesn’t take calls?”

Me: “No, he doesn’t have time to deal with calls; that’s what he pays me for. Is there something I can help you with?”

I guess by this time, my tone may have gone from very polite at the beginning to a bit testy.

Caller: “No, you sound agitated. I’ll call back later and talk to the owner. Click.”

Sure, honey, because suddenly someone else will answer the phone in my one-person office and put you through to the boss. Oh, and of course, I’ll be less “agitated” when you call again.

Adding Up To A Wreck

, , , , , | Right | August 12, 2021

I’ve managed to damage the heat shield on my car, and, given that I’m still a teen and have pretty abysmal knowledge about cars, my dad accompanies me to his stepbrother’s shop to get it fixed. When we get there, there’s already a middle-aged woman in the shop who’s having a pretty heated conversation with the employee behind the counter. 

Honestly, I don’t pay too much attention to what she’s saying because she’s not really making a scene despite being upset, but I do hear her make a few comments about how “payments aren’t adding up” before calling her father to come inside. At that point, my step-uncle appears and brings us outside so we don’t see the rest of their conversation.

The next day, my dad approaches me.

Dad: “You remember that woman at [Step-Uncle’s Shop]? You know what [Step-Uncle] told me about her?”

Me: “Yeah, what happened?”

Dad: “It turns out her father wrecked his car and asked her to help pay for the repairs. He told her he needed about $2,000 for it, but then she somehow got a hold of the final bill that said it was only about $1,500. So, she came back to the shop all upset thinking they’d scammed her poor elderly father. Well, together they managed to figure out that the old leech tried to scam his own daughter! He just lied to her about how much he needed! Apparently, she left the shop considerably angrier than when she arrived.”

You’ve Paid With Shame

, , , | Right | July 22, 2021

Not long ago, I discovered that I had a flat tyre, so I got up early the next day and took my car to a reputable local tyre repair centre. I was the first customer of the day, so one of the techs got to work immediately.

Thirty minutes later, the woman in reception told me that the car was ready, and, delighted, I went into the workshop to see the tech.

Tech: “I was able to repair the tyre, so you won’t need a new one.”

I was really pleased about this — so much so that my mind must have been in another place. I jumped in the car and reversed out of the workshop. As I did so, the woman from reception appeared, looking like she wanted to speak to me.

I wound the window down.

Receptionist: “You know you haven’t paid?”

I was embarrassed that I’d forgotten, but instead of admitting that I’d forgotten, I bluffed it. 

Me: “Yeah, I know. I’m just backing out of here to free up the bay. I’ll be in in a second!”

She seemed satisfied, so I parked the car and went into reception.

Me: “I didn’t want to be blocking your bay for other customers.”

I paid for the tyre repair — only about £12 — and left, still horribly embarrassed. I was so embarrassed that when I got home I looked up the place on Facebook and left them a glowing review, just to make myself feel better.

The Power Is Out And So Is Her Brain

, , , , | Right | July 20, 2021

The power goes out. There are still a few customers inside waiting to see if it will come back on, so we haven’t locked the doors yet.

Another lady comes in with a battery. The person we had at the door informs her that the power is out and we can’t do any transactions. 

Customer: “That’s okay. I just need my battery charged.”

Coworker: “Ma’am, our power is out.”

Customer: “It usually takes about an hour, right?”

Coworker: “Usually, yes. But our power is out.”

Customer: *Confused* “So how long will it take?”

All of us were listening at this point, and my store manager had to explain to her that we can’t charge a battery when we have no power.