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Friday, January 27, 2012

Don't Take Me for a Ride | The Auto Shop Experience

This story starts in frustration and ends in compassion and understanding. Sometimes, things work out that way. Perhaps you can relate.

I recently experienced some problems with my car. I don't usually drive at night, so it may have been an issue for a while, but I didn't find out until I was driving on a very dark road, on my way to pick up my significant other from the airport, when *BAM*: both of my headlights failed.

There were no street lights. I was in complete darkness.

Luckily, the faint glow of my hazard lights was enough to guide me to the shoulder of the road until I was able to get some help. The next day I went to the auto shop that I usually use. Their electrical person wouldn't be in for a couple of days, and I really wanted this safety issue resolved as quickly as possible.  

Being a chain, they have another location a few cities away. I went there, and they were able to perform the diagnostic tests. I was told that the needed parts would take two weeks to arrive from the east coast. What were they going to use? The Pony Express?

I asked if they could expedite the parts. I had to call the shop a number of times to follow up and "remind" them to call their vendor and find it about expediting the order. 

After a couple of days, I called to ask them the status of the parts. This morning, the man I spoke with said that he forgot to tell me that the parts arrived yesterday. I was a bit frustrated. I live about 45 minutes from the shop, and I could've been there and had my car repaired by now. Out loud, to myself, in the privacy of my home, I remember muttering things like, "those idiots....incompetent...geez, I had to do *everything*...jerks."

I fantasized about and even recited the scathing Yelp review that I couldn't wait to give them. When I arrived at the shop, the two staff members at the front desk looked embarrassed. While I didn't receive an apology, I could tell by the looks on their faces that they felt badly. They were extra courteous. I couldn't get angry. I just assertively asked, "Can you get me out of here in 2 hours?" I was assured that this would be possible.

I wanted to complain and ask why they has been so incompetent and why I had to do all of the legwork and pay for it, to boot. I wanted to tell them that it was rude of them to disregard my time. But when I looked at them, instead, my heart was filled with compassion. I've been a pushover in my life before, and I have no intention of playing that role again, but this morning, I felt that it was more important to be effective than to be "right."  (Besides, I would have my moment with Yelp!)

I realized that I didn't know the whole story.  Who knows why my issues were not a priority? Who knows what else has been happening at the shop with the staff and with the other customers? My emergency wasn't necessarily theirs.

I needed to take a time out.  I went to use the restroom. There, on the wall of the cement floored, typical dingy auto shop bathroom, hung this little painting.

Painting on the Car Shop's Bathroom wall

Seeing it softened my heart further. It reminded me that there is a little bit of beauty in every place and situation.

Don't get me wrong: It's not ok for people to take advantage of us. It's not ok for us to be mistreated, especially when we are exchanging money for a service.

At the same time, we can keep ourselves from becoming consumed with anger and channel that energy in a constructive direction.  This day and age, we have Yelp, a website that allows us as consumers to share our experiences - the good, bad, and the ugly, with other consumers. Had I checked the rating for this particular car shop (an average of only 1 star out of 5), I could have avoided this whole mess to begin with.

When the front desk clerk called me to take a look at my car, and we discovered that the technician failed to replace several lights that were on the work order, he became angry. I told him, "It's not your fault." Truth be told, I didn't have to be anywhere at any certain time, so this was a major opportunity to practice patience and tolerance.

I sat in the waiting area for almost another hour, and I Yelped. I channeled the frustration in a constructive way and directed no negativity to these men at the shop.

I cannot control everything, but I can Yelp.



Think of a situation that recently frustrated you. What might have been going on with the other people involved? Does it reduce your frustration at all to consider this?


Namaste.

1 comment:

  1. Several months back I experienced a situation with a friend. I won't go in detail because this is simply a comment to your Blog but I'll give you the end story. My friend became angry as our wait was extremely long. He was ready to blow his top when I suggested he consider what may have been happening in that person's life. I said to my friend, "You never know, maybe she recently lost a family member and her mind is elsewhere."

    I like to choose my battles and this just wasn't one of them. So while I will tell you, my purpose was only an attempt to difuse my friends anger, I guess in a way I was also thinking about the other person and placed both my friend and I in her shoes. It worked, my friend bit his tongue and we went on with our day.

    Thank you Debbie, your Blog has brought this to fruition. Perhaps the next time something like this occurs, I'll stop and think about this story. The end result could very well cause a couple strangers to "unknowingly" have a better day.

    My hats off to you sweetie.

    -TheLastLawman

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