Friday, July 21, 2006

Some may say I'm wishing my days away

I'm going to my class reunion next weekend. On top of that, I just finished reading Sting’s memoir “Broken Music” and am currently reading a book called “In My Mother’s Kitchen.” It’s a collection of stories and recipes from chefs and writers. Plus, my uncle’s illness has progressed and every time I call home I’m told the doctors say he’ll die “any day now.”

The books and reunion have me thinking about my youth. I’m reminded of the person I thought I would be by now. To a certain extent I am that person: I’m independent, headstrong, a writer. Back then I thought I was going to be a best-selling novelist who also happened to be a large animal veterinarian (I read a lot of James Herriot growing up) living on a huge farm with horses, goats and about eight dogs. Oh, and I’d be married to Sting. I know I’m not going to be a vet, but I still hope to write a book someday and I’m sure Sting will come around soon.

I’ve also been thinking about my parents and their youths. I’m planning to take a notebook home so I can take down some of their memories and some of my mom’s recipes. I want to make sure I have my grandma’s recipe for peanut brittle. I doubt I’ll ever master the technique but I want to try. If I ever have kids, I want them to experience making peanut brittle on the kitchen table.

Mom would mix the candy in a heavy skillet and then pour it out on a buttered slab. We kids would gather around with butter on our fingers and pull the peanut brittle out to a thin sheet. After it cooled, we broke it into pieces and sealed it up, but not before sampling enough to get a stomach ache. I’ve never tasted peanut brittle that rivals Mom’s homemade.

Thinking back on high school isn’t all bad but it certainly isn’t good. I’m going to my reunion because (1) I like my job, (2) I have a younger boyfriend who is successful and good looking and (3) because I didn’t get fat and I want to see who did. Yes, I’m that shallow. Anyone who goes to their reunion to hang out with friends is either a liar or a loser (or both). I’m sure I’ll have plenty to say about the reunion when I get back.

Monday, July 17, 2006

Baby you can drive my car ... if you wait long enough

Once again I have to bring up the subject of customer service and common courtesy. Today I went to a local Chrysler dealership for a test drive for work. I suppose you could say that I wasn’t technically a customer. But, I feel that I represent the customer and common courtesy dictates that I should be treated with some respect.

I got to the dealership a few minutes early and expected to wait because the man I was meeting had a phone call. After 15 minutes he came out and apologized for running late. I don’t have a problem with that. We had an appointment at 9:30 a.m. but I understand that things come up at the last minute. He told me they were getting the car ready for me – cleaning and gassing it up – and they’d bring it around. Silly me, I assumed he meant they’d bring it around shortly.

After 20 minutes, I started feeling a little put out. I would feel different if I just showed up out of the blue but I always phone ahead. I didn’t say I’d been in around 10 a.m. or between 10 and 11 a.m. I said I’d be there at 9:30 a.m. and I was early. While we were waiting for the car I was to drive, someone could have been showing me the features on the car sitting in the show room. There were salespeople standing around. I’m sure one of them could have taken five minutes out of their busy day to tell me about a car they’d really like someone to buy.

At 10 a.m., I began writing the time in my notebook. I had been waiting over 35 minutes with only about 30 seconds of face time at that point. At 10:10 a.m. I saw a guy drive up with the car only to leave a minute later for 20 more minutes – I assumed he was going to get gas in the car. The whole time I felt there was no point in leaving as this was a work assignment and I would have to come back some time. But I was fuming with no outlet for my anger.

At 10:30 a.m., the first guy came to me with the key. The car was ready to go. A salesman went over the features with me and sent me on my way. About five minutes down the road it occurs to me to look at the fuel gauge – there was less than a quarter tank of gas! The car only gets 14 mpg in the city. I normally drive a car about 2 hours and now I have less than a quarter tank of gas to drive this gas guzzler. What were they doing with the car all that time? It looked great but it could have looked great an hour earlier – they knew I was coming.

I took a shortened drive and actually really enjoyed the car but the whole experience was a pain. I won’t be buying a vehicle from that dealership any time soon. I’m sure they don’t think that far ahead at the dealership. They know I won’t be buying that particular car so why waste their time? How about my time is just as valuable as their or anyone else’s time? How about common courtesy? How about word of mouth?