Friday, June 20, 2014

"Karma, Karma, Karma, Karma, Karma, Chameleon"

Historically, I have always been your typical Republican; that is to say, there was nothing passive about my aggression.  However; as I've aged and accumulated a few years of maturity and sobriety under my belt, I've gotten a lot more "zen" and, when wronged, I have learned to adopt a more "WWGMD?" stance. . .*

*"What Would General McArthur Do?"

. . .in order to keep me from going all "Hulk, SMASH!" on the general population.  So, when faced with an injustice or difference of opinion, I simply ask myself, "Is this the hill you want to die on, Soldier?"  And nine times out of ten, it's not, so I let that shit go. Because despite my puerile sense of humor and ability to curse like a stevedore with Tourette's, I am, in fact, a Christian.  And therefore I believe in the basic tenet that if you live your life in a manner that is pleasing to both the Man Upstairs and the Man In The Mirror, you are golden.  But if you live a life of chicanery and mendacity, you will most likely wind up spending eternity spinning on Satan's rotisserie next to Casey Anthony and the dude who invented Spandex.*

*Joseph P. Shivers.  Don't ask me how I know this, but my point is that judgment is nigh, Mr. Shivers. . .judgment is nigh.

Don't get me wrong, in a perfect world, there would be no lying. . .there would be no extortion. . .there would be no injustice. In a perfect world we'd hold hands across America, buy the world a Coke, and if I had a hammer I'd hammer out love between my brothers and my sisters.*

*Actually, if I had a hammer I probably wouldn't be hanging pictures using the heel of my Tory Burch flats. . .sometime I'll regale you with the tale of how I McGuyver-ed an IKEA coffee table using only a bread knife and a pair of nail clippers.  It was magical.

But the world is not perfect, and there are people lurking around every corner just waiting for the perfect opportunity to screw you over like a whore when the rent is due. And as simply KNOWING that fact makes me quiver with righteous fervor like Jerry Falwell judging a wet T-shirt contest, imagine how I react when such deception is thrown at me harder than Nolan Ryan after a quad-shot of 'gym juice'.

It all started about two weeks ago.  I backed my car out of the garage and looked up to see my boyfriend standing in the doorway, eyebrows raised.

I poked my head out of the driver's side window; brow furrowed in confusion. "Que pasa, Babe?"  I asked, as he pointed somberly at the floor of the garage.

"Did you know that you're car is leaking oil?"  he queried, pointing at a dark stain on the garage floor.

"Oh, for CRAP'S sake!"  I cried, shutting off the engine and climbing out.  Norm shrugged.

"No big deal,"  he smiled with his usual calm.  "when was the last time you had your oil changed?"

I thought quickly.  "Umm. . .about a month ago?"

"OK," he nodded.  "When was the last time you checked your oil?"

"Umm. . ." I calculated again, "that would be 'never'."  Norm stared at me quizzically.

"Do you know HOW to check your oil?"  

I shook my head.  "Not a clue."

Norm tilted his head in concern.  "Do you know what kind of oil your car takes?"  

"Umm. . .the dark kind?"  I guessed.

Norm sighed and kissed the top of my head.  "No offense, Kid, and I don't mean to offend your feminist sensibilities or anything; but you REALLY need a husband."

Valid point.  But in an attempt to be all 'I am woman, hear me roar' I went to the gas station, bought the necessary oil. . .*

*Did you know that the type of oil your vehicle requires is actually printed on the oil tank?  Yeah, you probably already knew that.  Don't judge.  In my defense, 99.9% of my brain's capacity is filled with hummus recipes and the ability to name every Duggar child in birth order.  Once those mental files have been downloaded they can't be deleted. . .my hard drive has no room for such vaguaries as automotive repair and a working knowledge of mathematics.

. . .and topped off my oil tank.  Huzzah!  That afternoon I picked up the short people from school and as it was uncharacteristically sunny for a spring day in Oregon (two snaps up for global warming, y'all! Glad to know that asshat, Al Gore was right about something), we headed to the local skate park for some fun and frolic among the knife-weilding youth of Northeast Portland.  Not twenty minutes into our Tony Hawk inspired outing did my phone begin to chirp with an urgent text message.

For those of you not from the Pacific Northwest who are unaware of the wonder and glory that is Les Schwab, let me simply state that they are the all-seeing, all-knowing, grand Poobahs of everything automotive.  I may be slightly obsessed with them.  I may, in fact, have even written a rather effusive blog post a year ago extolling their virtues (  Me love you loooooong time, Les Schwab.

So, just before this post hangs a hard Roscoe and I start pissing angrily like an alley cat with a UTI, please know that it was born in love.  Love for my car.  Love for the man who pointed out the Rorschach blot it left on the garage floor.  And, most especially, mad love for my peeps at Les Schwab, who knew not what they were about to do. . .

Pulling into Les Schwab, I leapt from my ride and bounded cheerily through the door, secure in the knowledge that I would soon be on my way: leak free, with a bag of complimentary popcorn clutched in my eager hands.  "Hi!"  I cheerily chirped at the cherubic young man behind the counter.  "I seem to have a leak in my transmission."

The young man frowned.  "I'm so sorry, ma'am,"  he apologized with gravity. "but we don't service transmissions.  I'll have to refer you elsewhere."

Wait. . .wha-what?  No. . .Les Schwab?  I suddenly felt subjugated and crestfallen, like a Make-A-Wish kid who'd been told that Disneyland was closed.  "B-but," I stammered impotently, like Scarlett O'Hara being thrown from the gates of Tara, "where do I go?"

He smiled sweetly.  "No problem, ma'am.  We work with some great guys up the street. '____ ______ Transmission', right next to the car wash and the Sprint mobile store.  Tell them we sent you and they'll fix you right up."

OK.  So. . .good.  If Les Schwab is recommending them, I know I'm golden.  So I toddled up the road to ____ ______ Transmission, only to find a sign in the window stating that they were no longer in business, and all transmission repairs are referred to a place around the corner.  OK.  Well. . .fine.  Granted, the Heironymous Bosch-like odyssey to get my transmission fixed was becoming a bit tedious; but again, my faith in Les Schwab spurred me ever onward and upward, and I proceeded to my final destination.

Aaaaaand, this is when the post takes a hairpin turn and screeches to a halt on the corner of Douchebaggery and Righteous Indignation.  For I arrived at my final destination.  And unbeknownst to me, I was about to get my ass reamed out like a 90-pond inmate on Valentine's Day at San Quentin.

I was greeted at the door by a smiling, effusively friendly gentleman that I'll call. . .ummm. . .oh, let's just call him 'T*dd'.*

*Because that's his actual name.

In fact, let's just call the establishment itself, oh. . .I don't know. . .something 'vague' like. . .T*dd's 'Sch-import Blah-tomotive' in Lake O_ _ _go.

So, I told Smiling T*dd about my plight and explained that my transmission was leaking faster than Betty White's Depends. I further explained that I'd been funemployed for the better part of two months so anything other than basic repairs that will keep me from careening headlong into an I-5 guardrail were probably not in the cards for today.  He assured me that he'd "take that into consideration" and promised to call me back with an estimate.

"Oh!"  I called over my shoulder before I left. "And you can ignore the tire pressure warning light.  Les Schwab just checked the tires; they're fine, it's just a faulty sensor that I can't shell out $85 to fix right now."

"Not a problem! I'll make a note of that!"  T*dd reassured me with a bedimpled grin and a comforting wave.  OK.  So. . .good.  I headed home, and eagerly awaited T*dd's estimate.  I did not have to wait long.  That evening he called me and. . .good news bad news.  The good news?  It wasn't transmission fluid that had leaked in my garage.  (Yippee?)  It was, however, power steering fluid.  (Not so 'yippee')  T*dd further informed me that my front brakes were "dangerously in need of upkeep".  OK. . .so. . .brakes are kinda important; I get that, but since Les Schwab had just serviced them last year I was a bit skeptical.

"Tell him to hold off on the brakes," Norm advised.  "If Les Schwab serviced them last year they're probably still under warranty.  Tell Todd to just worry about the power steering and we'll take care of the rest later."

I relayed this message to T*dd who made it abundantly clear that I was taking my life into my own hands, but he again calmed me with his soothing tones and promises of power steering and discount prices.  Bless you T*dd.

All right then.  This is where I take you on one of those Nicholas Sparks-esque leaps in time where I fast forward to the following Friday, when my friend Christian takes me to pick up my ride, I hand T*dd my credit card, and return home with the bill.

"This is almost eight hundred dollars!"  Norm sputtered in disbelief.  "Did he rebuild the engine or find Jimmy Hoffa in the trunk?"

"I. . .it was the power steering."  I cried in confusion.  "That's, like, a big thing, right?"*

*OK.  I feel I must pause here briefly to point out the fact that I am neither brain damaged nor functionally incapacitated.  I have a Master's Degree and a 156 IQ, but when you discuss cars or finances with me, my neural cortex goes into lockdown and I find myself drooling and humming 'I'm a Pepper, you're a Pepper...' Don't judge.

Norm shook his head in anger.  "it's a big deal if you're rebuilding it from scratch."  he said, poring over the bill, "but all T*dd did was replace a hose.  A hose that costs about $50.  He charged you $250 for the hose, $200 for installation, and another $100 to test it."

"Well, you have to test it. . .right?"  I posited lamely.

Norm gazed at me seriously.  "Do you know how you 'test' if a power steering hose is installed properly, Jace?  You start the car and see if it leaks.  He charged you $100 to start your car.  And here. . .$50 to 'clean the fluids'?  That means he wiped off the area.  He charged you $50 to swipe the hose with a rag."

"Son of a bitch. . ."  I muttered furiously.  Norm continued to peruse the bill.

"What's this?"  he asked. "$99 to assess a tire pressure light?"

"Wait, WHAT!?"  I cried, grabbing the bill.  "No!  He didn't 'assess' the tire pressure light; I TOLD him about it!  He charged me $99 to smile and nod at something I FREAKING TOLD HIM!"

"Calm down, Jace," Norm said with his usual Zen-like countenance.*

*Norm's ex wife was also named Jen, so in order to avoid any residual weirdness, he and his kids call me Jace, as my middle initial is 'C', so. . .J.C. = Jacey = Jace. . .well, you get the picture. . .

"But he screwed me over!"  I said with tears in my eyes. "Do I just let him get away with it?"

Norm smiled gently and wrapped his arms around me "Let's sleep on it."  he whispered. "Take some time to 'pause and ponder' and we'll figure it out in the morning."*

*Reason #573 why I love this man.  

The next day came, and after some pausing and pondering, Norm gave T*dd a call.  I shan't regale you with every detail, but suffice to say, Norm gave T*dd ample opportunity to explain his chicanery, assured him that we would never again return to his establishment, and made it clear under no uncertain terms that T*dd's mendacity and manipulation had not gone unnoticed. 

"That was wonderful, Babe."  I stated in awe.  "You were so calm and respectful. . .and the word 'motherfucker' never once left your mouth.  Teach me your ways, Yoda."

Norm shrugged.  "Karma will get him in the end,"  he smirked.  "no point in damaging my spirit and feeding into anger.  He'll have to answer to look at him self in the mirror every day and know what kind of person he is. . .that's punishment enough."

And I agree.  Money is money, and while being taken advantage of sucks harder than a United Airlines toilet, being bitter and vindictive is more damaging in the long run.  So. . .I learned something.  Most importantly, who I can trust.  A lesson that was driven home just three days ago.

Leaving the gym after a particularly grueling workout, Norm glanced down at the back of my car and frowned.  "Umm. . .Honey?" he said in that 'I'm-about-to-tell-you-something-unpleasant-so-please-don't-stab-me' tone.  "Did you know that your back tire is flat?"

Of course it is.

Of.  Course.  It.  Is.

So, we did what we do in such cases.  We limped it up the road to none other than Les Schwab.  

"Do you know how long this will take?"  I asked the young attendant.  "I need to get dinner started...should we just walk home and come back later?"

"Oh, gosh no!"  the young man smiled.  "I'll have you done and on your way in ten minutes!"

Norm and I stood outside and chatted with the young man while he pulled my flat from the car and wheeled it off to check for holes.  "Hey!"  Norm called out with his usual cheer. "Just for grins and giggles, would you mind checking the brakes; we heard they might be in need of upkeep."

"No problem!"  the young man affirmed, and gave my ride a quick once-over.  "You know," he finally concluded, "I'm not sure who told you the brakes were faulty, because they look just fine; have you had them serviced here?"

"About a year ago,"  I replied, "but I'm not sure I still have the receipt."

"No worries," the attendant reassured me, "we'll have you in the system, and if anything DOES go wrong, you're still under warranty."

So. . .no actual brake problem.  Interesting.  Thanks for that little moment of gut-wrenching panic, T*dd.

"OK, you guys are good to go!"  the young attendant said with a grin and a salutatory slap on the hood.

"Wow!  That was fast!"  I cried.  "Do we pay inside?"

The young man tilted his head and regarded us with mock seriousness.  "Well, that depends."  he stated gravely.  "Do you intend to get your next set of tires at Les Schwab?"

Norm chuckled, "I've bought every set of tires here since my first kid turned sixteen."

"Me too!"  I chuckled.  "We're Les Schwab customers for life."

"Well, then,"  the attendant smiled, extending his hand to shake, "no charge.  You guys have a great day."

Driving home, I thought about the situation.  A year ago, I would likely have been furious at T*dd. . .so furious that I would have unloaded my vitriol at him, bemoaned my plight to the good people of Les Schwab, and worked myself into a gut-roiling cocktail of bitterness and self-loathing for having been hoodwinked. But now. . .not so much.  Norm is right.  Getting all worked up would have led to. . .what?  Me being upset, the staff of Les Schwab being upset, Norm and the short people (by virtue of living with me when I have a bug up my ass about something) would have been upset, and T*dd?  He would have been completely unaffected.  So, I channeled my inner Elsa and let it go, let it goooooo. . .

Norm is right.  Ultimately, T*dd will have to answer to a higher power for the things he's done and the choices he's made in life.

I just hope it's sooner rather than later.

And I kinda hope I'm still around to see it when it happens.

And I'm really hopeful that this post makes other unsuspecting parties think twice before getting their cars repaired by that douchecanoe.

Because, while I do believe in karma, I also think she could use a nudge from time to time.

Drive carefully!



Mandy said...

First of all, Norm sounds like a DREAM. I love him, because he's so good to you, my twin.

Secondly, as much as my husband grates my last nerve, I am so grateful he's a mechanic. I never have to worry about getting screwed over by some asshole who thinks I don't know there's no such thing as blinker fluid and exhaust bearings.

If it has to do with finances, childcare, legal issues, insurance or anything else that doesn't involve home repair or the vehicles *I* handle it. Anything else, is squarely in Ed's corner.

Divide and conquer I say!

PS: Yay for being so zen. I wouldn't have. I would have chewed him up one side and down the other, written an angry Facebook review, filed a complaint with the Better Business Bureau and the State Department of Consumer Services and topped it off with a lawsuit.

But that's just me.

Jennifer Clark said...

You didn't demand a refund?!

mothers little hleper said...

I want to be zen like u....but I would have demanded a refund

Kristen said...

I've been reading your blog for about a year but never left a comment before... This one is just too close to home not to say something. (plus I love what you write! highlight of my workday!)

But, wow, you have more self control than I do. I had an oddly similar situation happen to me last week...

and I fully intend to let out my passive aggressiveness out in the way of the information age and blast those grease monkeys on the internet!

Oh wait, that's pretty much exactly what you did...

Anonymous said...

Ok, so I'm entirely off topic here but there's something that's been bugging me for weeks now. Didn't you once write a post about McMenamin's? Am I crazy? I can't find it anywhere and I'd really love to read it again! I'm headed to Portland in August and all your old posts about places to eat would be great help in planning some fun stuff to do.

Roxie said...

Livin' would be easy if your colors were like my dreams. Red, gold and green; red, gold and greeeeeen!

acz said...

So did you leave Todd a Yelp review? I think that's the modern karma.