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Estimate That He’s Been Waiting Since The Fifties

, , , | Right | May 24, 2019

(I am a female estimator, the only one working in the dealership this day. I’m used to men not wanting to deal with me because I’m a woman. The receptionist comes to get me to write up a man who has just pulled in.)

Me: “Hello, sir! What damage are we looking at today?”

Customer: “I already told that other little lady that I need an estimate on my car. Now, be a doll and get someone for me.”

Me: “Well, sir, I am that someone. It looks like your front bumper has the majority of the damage. Anywhere else before I do my inspection?”

Customer: “The only inspection you need to be doing is finding someone to look at my vehicle!”

(I don’t want to argue, so I just turn and go back to my office. After about ten minutes, the receptionist comes to tell me the man is still waiting.)

Me: “So, have you decided to go ahead with the inspection, sir?”


Me: “You’ll be waiting a very long time, then, I’m afraid. See, I am the only estimator working today. I am the only person here who can tell you that I think the bumper got pushed into your radiator, and that is why there is a greenish liquid all over the ground. I am also the only person here who can tell you that your vehicle isn’t safe to drive, and if you insist on taking it home and waiting for a man to be here, you will cause more damage than if you were to just let me take care of it. Any other concerns I can address for you right now, or are you going to let me do my job?”

Customer: *very sheepishly* “Do you need my keys?”

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The Engine Of Racism

, , , , , , | Related | May 9, 2019

(My uncle’s car of twenty years was going through a major rough patch; it required a week-long trip to a mechanic almost monthly. This raised a few alarm bells since a car that left a mechanic shouldn’t need another a month later. Before he brought it back again, I convinced him to let my mechanic — who happens to be one of my oldest friends, us having been best friends since we were four — take a look. Naturally, this involves getting his hands and a few tools inside. After reminding him the two of us know almost nothing about cars, he gives us his professional opinion.)

Friend: “To fix your car, I’d have to replace part or all of the engine. That’s already pretty pricey, but to get at certain parts of the engine, I’d have to pull apart the car’s frame. Since that complicates the job and makes more work, the cost of fixing her would be enough to buy two cars. And that’s before we add on fees for the rental car you’ll need in the months she’ll be on the lift. If you don’t fix it, it’s worth more as parts than as a car. I say you should trade her in for a new car and not spend one more penny on her.”

Uncle: “Do you mind if I talk to my mechanic first? Just to hear him out?”

Friend: “You can, but could I come along? Just to ask a few questions you guys might not know to ask?”

(After a little cajoling from me, my uncle agrees, and the three of us drive up the highway to his dealership, each in our own car due to schedules conflicting. I’m going to take this opportunity to repeat that I know almost nothing about cars, so the technical parts of the conversation sound like a trombone to me. The comprehensible parts are as follows:)

Mechanic: “Nothing too bad. It’ll be ready tomorrow afternoon. Job’s more annoying than it is hard.”

Friend: “What about his [car part]?”

Mechanic: “Used, but not worn out.”

Friend: “And how exactly did you check that?”

Mechanic: “Same way as any other. [Outlines a complicated-sounding procedure].”

Friend: “And what were the results?”

Uncle: “He said he checked it and it’s fine!”

Me: “I think [Friend] wa–“

Uncle: “It’s fine!

(This basic conversation loop a few more times, each time detailing a different part of the car. Eventually, my friend throws up his hands and walks out. Once he is gone, the mechanic continues talking with my uncle, and I completely tune them out. When I rejoin, my uncle has decided to trust his mechanic and leaves his car for another day of repairs, which turns into a week of repairs. But the story doesn’t quite end there. Since he doesn’t yet know he’ll need a rental car, I have to drive him home, which means taking the highway. And he opens his mouth.)

Uncle: “I shouldn’t have listened to you!”

Me: “What was wrong with involving [Friend]?”

Uncle: “All he did was get in the way! He wouldn’t listen one bit to my mechanic!”

Me: “He wanted to analyze the exact results himself, not just hear, ‘It’s fine.'”

Uncle: “Well, [Mechanic] told me that [Friend] poking around might have damaged something, so I might not have a car tomorrow.”

Me: “[Friend] is a more competent mechanic than that. Any problems weren’t his doing. I wouldn’t be surprised to learn he saved you some money by tightening up a few things.”

Uncle: *scoffs* “And you’re trusting the [racial slur]!”

(For the record, yes, my friend is black, and we are white. I pull over the car and hit the brakes.)

Me: “Trusting the what?”

Uncle: “The… the…”

Me: “Get out!”

(He tried to backpedal some more, but I wasn’t having it. I grabbed my keys, got out myself, and physically pulled him out of my car. I got back in and drove off, leaving him to walk back along the highway. He made his way back unmolested, but not one bit wiser.)

Total Recall Of A Total A**hole

, , | Right | April 28, 2019

(I work at an auto dealership. A customer comes into our service aisle with a car model that was discontinued a decade ago.)

Customer: “I am here for the recall.”

(The customer, grinning from ear to ear, hands me the recall notification mailer. This is a common recall and I know without looking that we have the parts in stock. We are also not busy.)

Me: “This takes less than half an hour, and we have people available right now. Or would you like to schedule an appointment and come back later?”

(The customer beams with joy, hands me the keys, and goes to the waiting area. Odd, but pretty standard stuff. Ten minutes later, I return to the waiting area with the customer’s keys.)

Me: “Your car is finished. We ran it through the wash rack. Here are your paperwork and keys.”

(The customer dances with excitement looking like a puppy that is about to wet itself, and then rushes to the service aisle.)

Customer: “That is my old car.”

Me: “Yes, right there.”

Customer: “Where is my new car?”

Me: “What new car?”

Customer: “FOR THE RECALL.”

Me: “Yes, we performed the recall; we replaced [parts involved in recall].”


(Now the customer’s excitement and sudden anger make sense. I try to explain that in small consumer products they replace an item because it is cheap, but a dealer only replaces the defective parts. After demanding to see the service manager and owner and screaming at us, the customer only leaves when the owner threatened to call the cops. As the customer is escorted to their car, they scream that they are going to have their lawyer sue us.)

Owner: “Here is a card with the corporate complaint hotline, and here is my card. Now leave!

(The customer almost hit a parked car as they peeled out of the parking lot. I looked into the computer; they had never visited us before, and I silently prayed to the auto gods that they would never return.)

Car Fool

, , | Right | April 11, 2019

(I am one of the customers in this story. My father works at a very large car dealership that also has a service station. Whenever my car needs work, he makes an appointment for me and I take it to his company, who will do the work at a discounted rate since he is an employee. However, since the service guys know us and are doing the job for less money, they sometimes end up pushing my appointment time back if things get really busy so they can take care of full-paying customers first. This is fine, as I am getting a good deal, so I don’t mind waiting a little longer on occasion. I usually just bring my laptop and do some work while I wait. On this particular day, I have an appointment at one pm, but things are incredibly busy. It is now 4:30 pm. I go to the restroom, and when I come back out a lady has just entered the crowded waiting space, has moved my coat and computer, and is now sitting in the seat I just left. I gather my stuff and take a seat near her when my dad comes in.)

Dad: “Hey, kiddo, just wanted to let you know they are just starting on your car now. Should be about half an hour.”

Me: “Thanks, Dad.”

(As he turns to leave and go back to work, the lady who just recently sat down jumps out of her seat and points her finger at him, and then starts screaming.)

Lady: “GET ME YOUR SUPERVISOR RIGHT NOW! The man at the counter told me I was going to have to wait an hour and a half, and I got here before her. JUST BECAUSE SHE IS YOUR DAUGHTER DOESN’T MEAN SHE SHOULD GET TO CUT ME IN LINE!”

Father: “I’m sorry, ma’am, but she has been waiting here for nearly four hours; she didn’t just get here.”


Me: “Lady, I’ve been here since one pm. You moved all my stuff and sat in the seat I was in. I just came back from the bathroom. Since this is where my dad works, I always wait a bit longer for service in order to let the other customers go first; I never get to cut the line. And if it was just me, I’d say, ‘Whatever, take her car before me,’ but all of these other people are ahead of you in line, as well, so I can’t do that.”

(I gesture around to the packed waiting room, where everyone is staring at her. The supervisor also hears what is going on and comes out to talk to her. He tells her that even if they skip my car and leave it until last, it will not shorten her wait, as there are about ten other customers in front of her besides me. He also tells her I had a one pm appointment and was gracious enough to wait when they were even busier around lunch time, and that I am not getting any special treatment in terms of cutting the line. She is still angry; she demands her car back to take it to the competitor down the road and storms out.)

Me: “Sorry, [Supervisor]. I feel like you lost a customer because of me.”

Supervisor: “It’s not your fault. I don’t want screaming people in my waiting room, anyway. Besides, I know for a fact that [Competitor] is even busier than us and has at least a two-hour wait right now.”

Strange Times At The Used Car Lot

, , , , | Working | March 19, 2019

(I am at a used car market which is basically a free-for-all, buy-at-your-own-risk affair. I am an ethnic Chinese woman, and it looks like there are no other people of East Asian descent or women shopping alone. This is a collection of some of the characters.)

Me: “Can I start the car and see how it runs?”

Old White Guy: “Why?”

(Another instance:)

Me: “Would you take R55,000 for this?”

Guy: “No, but can I have your number?”

(Another instance:)

Old Indian Guy: “My son is a dealer. I’ll give you his address. Don’t buy cars from black guys; a lot of them are stolen.”

(Another instance:)

(The reaction of multiple guys when I ask about maintenance issues:)

Them: “Do you have a husband/brother/father at home?”

(Another instance:)

Young Indian Guy: “Hey! Over here! I have the perfect car for you!” *points at a tiny, ugly, subcompact of an unfamiliar make I have to Google*

Me: “Do you think I’m going to buy some random China car just because I’m Chinese?”