24 December 2008

A Holiday Tale

Last Friday, my daycare was closed due to an impending storm, but my provider agreed to take the kids for a few hours in the morning so that I could go get new tires put on my car. I had ordered the tires online and had them shipped to an installer near my house. I had tracked the order online and called when the tires were delivered to make an appointment for the installation. "No need for an appointment, ma'am!" the cheerful dude told me. "Come in anytime! Shouldn't take more than an hour and a half!"

"How about Friday?" I said, figuring I'd drop the kids off at daycare early and get it done before work.
"Great! Anytime!" he quipped.
"I really don't need an appointment?"
"No! No need! See you!"

Uh huh. Yeah. I pull in Friday and am told that due to the storm forecast to arrive that afternoon, the wait will be five hours. At least. I did not handle this information gracefully.

"ALL RIGHT THEN!" I bellowed, right there in the lobby of the rather grimy store. "I GUESS I'LL SETTLE IN FOR A FIVE-HOUR WAIT!"

A tired-looking employee asked which car was mine, and we walked out to the parking lot so that he could get the info he needed about the car to enter into the computer.


I went on and on and on. Loudly. I was rude. The guy was patient. He listened to all my complaining and vitriol and ridiculous irrelevant commentary about the conditions of my life. Then he suggested that I come back on a different day when there would be less of a wait, which seemed like my only course of action since the twins needed to be fetched from school before the storm hit.

I did not leave calmly. I was still pissed. I tore out of the parking lot like a bat out of hell, yelling at the top of my lungs* and banging on the steering wheel. It was not pretty. I wanted to get my errand done that day, dammit. I'd made arrangements and I didn't want to be inconvenienced and have to come back. Because, you know, the world revolves around me.

Once I calmed down, I was totally embarrassed and ashamed. I had been self-centered and rude and ridiculous.

Today, head hung low, I went back to the store to get the tires installed. The guy was there.

"Oh, hey, you ready to get those tires put on your Subaru?" he asked.
"Yes, please." I couldn't meet his eyes.
"I'll go get the info I need off your car. Be right back."

He treated me with the utmost kindness during the whole transaction. He apologized that they didn't have any coffee in the waiting area, and that the TV was broken. When the car was ready (in an hour) and I was paying, he thanked me for my patience, asked me about the kids, how old they were, and commented that it must be a lot of work to raise twins on my own. I apologized for my behavior on Friday, and his only comment was that we all have days like that. True, but some people handle them better than others. We wished each other happy holidays, and I was on my way.

Now maybe he put the wrong tires on my car and they will explode next week, or maybe he charged me for an alignment and didn't really do it. I think, though, that he's just a good, decent guy on a day and at a time when I needed a dose of kindness. 

May I rise to the occasion next time.

Happy holidays, everyone. The twins and I are scheduled to fly from Boston to Portland tomorrow to spend a couple of weeks with my family. I'm hopeful that we'll make it out as scheduled. Not sure how much I'll be posting from Oregon.

*For those of you who suggested to me that the car was a good place for yelling, you are SO RIGHT. Awesome.


My name is Andy. said...

Have a safe and happy holiday!

** we don't have a car so I find yelling in the shower works just as well!

Shosh said...

I also struggle with not getting so angry when these "injustices" happen. I just had a fight with a clerk in a hotel who put me in a smoking room when i had requested a non smoking. And he insisted there was not one more open room in the whole hotel.

It seems like this guy was just amazing.....he sounds like great husband material for some lucky girl!

Gloria said...

I hate hate hate car places that don't take appointments. The wait is always more than double the time they told you it would be. Once I figured I'll take the bus to the gym, work out an for hour, and head back (on the bus). I did all that, and still had to wait 2 or 3 more hours. I think the employees went to eat or something.

But I was so tired (had just started working graveyard and wasn't sleeping due to the heat during the day), I just sat there like a zombie.

Lastly, happy holidays to you dear! I hope the trips goes well.

Snickollet said...


I ended up chatting with the guy for quite a while. He's married with three kids of his own, ages 17, 4, and 2. He looked younger than me (I'm 37), so he started early!


Watercolor said...


mek said...

Best wishes for safe and efficient travel, Snick - may you all enjoy your time in Portland!

Jane said...

Wow, that's one enlightened tire guy.

Have a wonderful holiday, and safe travels.

Keen said...

I love your story. I thank my lucky stars that people like that guy exist, especially when I'm having a bad day and am angry at the whole world. By the same token, I try really, really hard to just stand there and listen when people start yelling like that and remember that it has absolutely nothing to do with me.

Merry, merry Christmas, and have a GREAT trip.

Anonymous said...

Ahhh going ape-shit on people like that! We have all done it or want to do it.

Good he was a nice guy. I had a friend(who has zero patience for that kind of stuff) built a house and there was a bunch of stuff that needed to be fixed. She faxed it to him. He came with the list and next to a bunch of stuff was "TFB" written. It meant "Too fu**ing bad". She went MENTAL. Her neighbor heard her yelling at the guy, kicking him out of her house, came over, thought she was being attacked, she called his boss and the owner of the construction company. She admitted she may have overreacted and could have handled it better.

Two days later she is seat 4 seats away from two of them at a kids Christmas concert. Awwwkkwarrdd.

Have a very Merry Christmas and have lots of fun!

Bethany said...

If you're going to get upset, a mechanic/car place is sure a good choice of places! Too funny though...I'm glad he was nice to you! Have a wonderful trip!!

Yummy Mummy said...

Have a great holiday....you deserve the best this coming year. My thoughts are always with you and your little ones.


RB said...

He sounds like excellent husband material.

ccinnkeeper said...

I have been that person that gets yelled at (jobs I had long ago) and what I learned was that, for the most part, the people doing the yelling just need to be heard. My job is to listen and make sympathetic noises until the rant comes to an end, and then suggest a possible solution. This guy clearly has learned the same lesson.

Don't beat yourself up for yelling at him, I assure you he bears you no ill will. I never did toward the people who yelled at me. We all get frustrated and take it out on the wrong people sometimes, you were lucky enough to pick someone who understands the dynamic and doesn't take it personally.

mlg said...

I will be thinking about you three tomorrow. I know that it seems like a daunting task to fly across the US with the kids... just keep reminind yourself of the final outcome. Time at your parents to relax and have help and feel loved. It will be wonderful. And if you do get overwhelmed, we are only a few hours south of your folks in Portland... Have the kids ever seen trees so big a car could drive through?

Happy Holidays Snick, and thanks for being a friend. I do think of you guys often with good thoughts and energy coming your way from the woods in Northern CA.

amyinbc said...

Snick :( That made me sad to read.. Please try not to take your frustrations out on some person who is just doing his job. Store policies SO not his fault.

Glad to hear you realized that on your return visit. Have never worked retail but man it must be a bitch to deal with irate customers when the fault is so not yours. He sounded like a great guy.

Mama Nabi said...

Oh, Snick... I can't count the times I went ballistic for small inconveniences... I suspect mechanics tend to get this a lot anyway. :-) Hope you and the twins stay safe, enjoy the holidays, and I owe you a longass email, don't I? xox

Ellen said...

And don't forget...with the storm arriving soon, even if they HAD taken appointments, their operation might have been disrupted. I feel bad for the poor guy.

Anonymous said...

welcome to slushy Portland, I hope you have a lovely holiday with your family.

Anonymous said...


You should have seen me the other day when I was trying to get from Minneapolis to Tampa. It took me 36 hours to get home, and my temper was flaring. I did the slow burn for the entire time, because I was mistreated by the airlines. Airlines don't care about single 50 year old guys, and treat us like shit. No hotel, no offer, nothing except a $12 food voucher.O'Hare was a mess and I spent 20 hours there paying twice the going rate for food and sleeping on the floor.

Perhaps I'm emotional, perhaps it's my first holiday season alone.....Something's not right.
I will say that spending my first Christmas alone has been the hardest day of my life. One shouldn't be subjected to this kind of torture. Christmas eve was real hard, and I was posting youtube videos on my blog as a catharsis. Of course, the bottle of Martell Cognac didn't help....and I'm a teetoler.


Aimee said...

I'm sorry to hear that the car stuff was so rough, but as previous posters have said, it sounds like he handled it really well. I'm glad you were able to have a nice chat with him when you returned.

I don't think people really understand what an ordeal it can be to be a mom, especially during the times when you have 2 (or more) children to get in and out of a car, in and out of a building (for appointments, to shop, etc.) plus handling whatever they need. Being on a child's schedule is stressful and I'm glad he was able to just hear you.

Hope you enjoy the holidays with your family! Can't wait to hear/read all about it.

Bethany said...

Whenever a situation like that arises for me, I always write a wonderful note to the manager of the store telling them what the situation was (even admitting I was an ass!), the wonderful way their employee handled it, what an asset that employee is for the company, and how I hope they know how lucky they are to have him or her. And, yes, working out frustrations in the car is phenomenal. When my mom died of cancer 12 years ago (my senior year of high school), I think about 90% of my grief was effectively dealt with in the car. I bawled almost everywhere I went for several tough months, but, man, is that the perfect spot and by the time I got to my destination, I had had a good fit, pulled myself back together, and no one was the wiser (unless I wanted them to be). Happy Holidays to you and your beautiful family!

Sadia said...

I love our local Midas for run-of-the-mill car maintenance. They've been taking care of our cars since I was pregnant, and always have a kind word for the girls. My husband takes care of things when he's home, but when he's deployed, it's a comfort to know that our car maintenance guys are there!

I had one of those days at the ER about a year and a half ago. After 6 hours in the ER, they refused to take a stool sample themselves, and made me go home to get one from Mel to bring back to their lab. I shared some choice words with them and an unacceptable volume, and now drive an extra 15 minutes to get to a much nicer hospital, no matter how dire the emergency. Sure, it takes an extra 15 minutes, but they see use 2 hours sooner, and always send an extra nurse to entertain whichever twin is healthy.

May you have easy travels to Oregon!

Anonymous said...

That SO sounds like something I would have done. You are not alone!

I'm so glad that man was nice to you.


Kerry Lynn said...

I would have been angry too and definitely would have reacted the same way.

Hope you have a peaceful trip!

Susan Rose, CSJP said...

Hi Stacy! CoCo told me that you were blogging these days too, so I thought I'd drop by and check it out.

Merry Christmas!!

Anonymous said...

I've yelled at car guys. They never yell back, just nod and suspect I'm some crazy Asian guy who thinks he knows more about his car than they.

Glad to hear the guy was patient and treated you well. Perhaps the holiday spirit was upon him.

Hope yours was wonderful with the twins.

buddha_girl said...

Ooooooooh I love to yell in my car! I'm so proud of you for taking the opportunity to apologize to the poor guy. I hope I rise to the occasion and do the same thing the next time I lose my cool.

Safe travels and wonderful times to you. May you be surrounded with love and soothing times.

Roads said...

Well done, Snick -- and a point seriously not to be underestimated here, I feel, is your tenacity and great grace in going back.

Or maybe, perhaps, just the real rarity of those tyres :-)

Fairlington Blade said...

Hey Snick,

Sorry to hear the tires were such an ordeal. I had a similar one, though fortunately avoided blow-up situations. I'd bought my previous 2 sets of tires through Costco and wanted to do the same for my "new" car (it's a 2001 Focus I bought from my brother).

Research the options. I'm a big fan of Tire Rack (and highly recommend them). Check against what tires Costco carries and decide on the right tire. Go to the Pentagon City Costco. Discover the options aren't so great and the car I bought has a high performance package. (I guess that's what the squiggly line along the side meant). As Costco doesn't open until 10, this pretty much kills my entire morning. Also, I had to go in and out of the main Costco to make a purchase so that I don't get charged for parking.

In the end, I wound up ordering tires directly via Tire Rack. There was a highly rated installer that's in my neighborhood and we wound up having my tires installed and my former car (inherited by the lovely Keen) serviced.

Now as for blow-ups at a hapless customer rep, reference my last "discussion" with a Sprint representative...


Micah said...

as a Portland reader of your blog, i really hope you made it here! we're ill equipped to deal with this sort of thing but are doing what we can. :) sensing a theme... no one can do what was never expected with the greatest grace and power. we always try though.

much love to you and the ri-man and maddie.


Lori said...

Hey!! I remember suggesting that
= D Glad it works for you! It's about the only place you can get away with it and not have people whispering about you later. I get frustrated with places like that too, or dealing with utility companies on the phone. I was being rather rude the other day and then I just stopped and apologized for it right then and there to the lady on the phone. I got the best service ever that day.

~ Jolene said...

I hate to admit it but I'm sure I would've reacted the same way. Happy Holidays to you and the kids Snick!

amber said...

i'm not a single parent with twins and i would have reacted the same way. it's not pretty, but sometimes it's just the reaction that you have.

many good thoughts for safe travels, a good vacation and a very happy holiday season :)

s_ivan said...

reminds me of my favorite outburst at the lastoursville post-office. I could SEE my package on the counter behind my least-favorite mailman. Kathy and I called him 'horsemouth'.

He told me I couldn't get the mail for the CES because I'm not authorized (I'd gotten it daily for weeks).

I marched home, woke the principal from his sieste and made him write me a letter of authorization, "cher m. le directeur de la poste..." and all that.

Horsemouth ignored the letter!

"What's wrong now? Isn't the letter enough to authorize me?!", I yelled.

"Yes, but I'm not the Directeur de la Poste."

I had a F-I-T. I was screaming and crying. A little brousse-mama was patting me on the back saying, "c'est finit, c'est finit. ma fille, c'est finit."

I continued to blubber, "No, MAMA, CestPasFinit!"

It took a week to get that package. The directeur was en brousse.

I had to send other people to pick up my mandat each month for the rest of the year because Horsemouth wouldn't give it to me.

I'm still mad.

OTRgirl said...

Hope you're enjoying Oregon! I'm really glad you experienced a little kindness when you needed it. May the new year be full to overflowing with more of the same.

threeundertwo said...

Happy New Year!

Lyndsay said...

Hope you had a great time in Oregon Snick.
Happy New Year!

Karen O said...

Drop off a box of goodies at the tire shop and all will be forgiven (my son, the former mechanic verifies this!) A few carbs will erase any former blots on your reputation and drastically improve service!

Collette said...

Hi there. I read your blog frequently but don't comment much. Don't feel too bad about the tire guy. After 12 years behind a pharmacy dealing with sick patients who just want to go home to bed rather than wait 35 minutes for a script I have heard it all. The tire guy is right. We all have bad days and sometimes it helps just to let it all out.

Jennifer said...

Snick - where are you? Missing your posts.....

Sandy said...

Missing you. Hope all is well.