#NaBloPoMo: Parts and Service

[November is NaBloPoMo, or “National Blog Posting Month,” in which bloggers post something each day of the month. I’ve been wanting to publish more here and have done it in years past, so here we go…]

I was disappointed yesterday when I took my car in to get my snow tires put on. I take it to the dealership because my car has those fancy computerized tire pressure sensors. They need to be recalibrated when I switch the tires and only the dealership knows how, or at least they claim they do. The first few years when I took it to a tire store, it never got reset and that lead to driving around the whole winter season with the warning light on and hoping that I didn’t actually have a flat tire, checking and rechecking the tire pressure manually to be sure. The tire store also kept putting too much air in my snow tires and last year they sent Eric home with two of the tires with lug nuts so loose the tires were coming off the car, so last year I decided to take it directly to the source, to the dealer.

I was disappointed because they paired me with my least favorite service person. He’s an older white man, slow and sort of sloppy and always mildly grumpy. He never really listens to me, which makes me have to repeat myself multiple times, and even when he hears me he some how misunderstands half of what I’ve said, and then acts confused and/or irritated as I try to explain. He vacillates between treating me like I’m an idiot and acting like I understand more about cars than he does.

First he misunderstood that the snow tires were already on their own set of wheels. He was explaining to me how they’d put the snow tires on the wheels and then have to balance them, and I interrupted and explained they wouldn’t. I had to repeat at least three times that no, the snow tires are on their own set of wheels before he heard me, understood. Then he couldn’t figure out pricing, and I kept telling him that they’d done the exact same thing last year, so all he needed to do was check my service records, that were right there on the computer that was right in front of him. He said $20, but I knew that wasn’t right, and I explained that they would need to recalibrate the tire pressure sensors to correctly read the new tires. Well, that about broke him. He got so flustered, telling me how that meant they’d have to unmount the tires to find a particular code so they could reset the sensors. I just nodded my head, “yeah, like they did last time.” After a search through my old records and an updated higher price and repeating at least three more times that yes, I was going to wait here until they were finished, I headed to the lobby waiting room.

This is pretty much exactly how it went last year, except it was the first year I’d come here. The thing I didn’t mentioned is that last year even though I paid extra to have the tire pressure gauge reset, three days later after driving it on the highway, the warning light went off and stayed that way even though all the tires were fine. I didn’t end up taking it back in because I took it in to their body shop to get my hail damage repair done and they had it for FOUR months, which meant by the time I got it back it was already time to take the snow tires back off.

I waited for two hours in their slightly gross waiting room. The TV is always on a news or sports channel and set too loud, even though no one ever seems to be watching it. The lights are those horrible jittery too bright florescents. It smells like burnt coffee and the furniture is functional but ugly and uncomfortable. Usually it’s way too hot, but on this day every time someone opened the outside door, which was at least once every ten minutes, a gust of freezing air filled the space. An older guy next to me was clearly impatient with the wait and spent the time sitting in a chair bouncing his leg or pacing the small room and muttering under his breath. Two different guys went into the bathroom while I was waiting and managed to stink up the whole place. An older white guy came in and saw a young Latino boy sitting by himself and tried to give him a high five, which the kid reluctantly agreed too but clearly didn’t like. A couple came in speaking animatedly to each other in Spanish. Based on the demographic of the room (mostly white — it’s Fort Collins, so this is pretty common), I braced myself for a confrontation if someone decided to have a problem with it. A woman in her 20s sitting directly next to me reeked of alcohol and I couldn’t tell if it was a hangover or what she had in her water bottle. Eric kept texting me to check in, thought it was taking too long, but I told him it’s like the difference between going to the doctor in the afternoon and first thing in the morning. By the afternoon, they are always behind, for all kinds of reasons.

They finally finished and I was able to get home. The anxiety lingers about paying more even though in a few days the warning light might still go off, and then I’ll have to decide if I just put up with it or spend my effort, energy, and time to take it back in and insist they do it right, which leads to having to make another phone call for an appointment (introverted highly sensitive people like myself hate nothing more than making phone calls), probably get the same service person, having to explain the situation multiple times while he gets more and more frustrated and irritable, and wait again in that uncomfortable waiting area.

Oddly enough (meaning I’m weird like that), this had me thinking about patriarchy and white supremacy, and all the ways I’ve internalized sexism and misogyny and whiteness. The ways I’ve been programmed to center men and whiteness, and the ways that leads to denying myself, seeing myself as unworthy and less than, prioritizing being quiet and polite and pleasing and compliant. All the ways that leads to me doing harm, to myself and others. All the ways that I appease and please. All the times I’ve gone silent because I’ve felt like I had no right to take up any space. All the moments I’ve allowed someone to make me small. And how complicated it is to turn it around, because it’s not just that I need to deprogram myself but entire systems need dismantled and the people stuck in those habits of behavior need called out, encouraged to take responsibility for the harm they’ve done and the healing they need to do in order to stop.

I'd love to hear what you think, kind and gentle reader.

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