Tuesday, April 24, 2012

service [sur-vis]

an act of helpful activity; help; aid 
Synonyms include: assistance, favor, utility, courtesy 

You need a water pump…and a new alternator. 

Yes, sure, whatever – just do it. I’ve decided, for my own sanity, to wave the white flag when it comes to car repairs. I’ve spent many years huffing and puffing about how expensive it is to own a car, how my long commute is the root of all this vehicular evil and how every time I have enough money saved to buy something major that I’ve been wanting, I need to have some service done. 

There are always things that soften the blow, though. I may spend a lot of time and money at Glendale Toyota, but hey, they know us there. There are service agents who greet me by name when I drive into the lot. One valet (shout-out to my homie, Ramon) has seen me so many times that when it’s time to pick up my car, he doesn’t even ask to check the receipt to know what car to look for. He sees me, I wave hello, and then he gives me a signal that says, “I’ll go get your car.” He drives up, shakes my hand, holds the door open and then, as I’m putting on my seatbelt, he closes my door and gives me a wave good-bye. Just like that, my car service experience is bookended with nothing but kindness and familiarity. 

Today I had to go with Dad to pick up my car. Before we left, Paul (the service agent who took care of my car this week), opened up the hood to show us exactly what they did. My car was making a rattling noise and it was, as Dad had suspected, my water pump; the same water pump I’ve had since I bought the car 192,000 miles ago. When they replaced the water pump, they heard another rattling sound that was masked by the old water pump’s noise. They basically had to undo what they had done to install the new alternator. “I hate having to add on more service,” Paul told me, so apologetically. “I know how you feel,” he said. So because we’ve been such loyal customers, they didn’t even charge us for the labor required to uninstall the water pump, install the alternator and then re-install the pump again. All that labor would’ve cost more than the parts, and though the price I paid for the service was a little heartbreaking, I couldn’t help but feel more blessed than frustrated. 

Blessed that even though he doesn’t drive my car, Dad knows when something’s wrong with it. Blessed that I have the means to pay for the basic necessities in life, like car maintenance. Blessed that the people at Toyota are always so kind to me, and that loyalty means something to them. 

My little Rav4 that could is comprised of thousands of parts and I can’t expect any of it to stay preserved. It’s not made of fruitcake. And as long as she needs me to take care of her, I will. She’s serviced my needs. How could I not service hers? [Yes, my car is a she.]

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