Worth the price of admission (24 cents)

I am afraid to tell you where I took my car for servicing this morning. You will see why.

The dealer runs a shuttle to the Metro. There is a posted schedule, which provides for the shuttle van to pull up and wait for 5 minutes in front of the customer lounge (giving the driver time to come into the lounge and ask if anyone is waiting for the Metro shuttle) before taking off. The departures are about every 20 minutes or so.

I was patiently waiting, watching Regis Philbin, who was being his typical charming self (if Ronald Reagan could be president, why not Philbin?), and I failed to keep my eye on the window (no one said I had to) to look for the van.

By chance I looked that way and the van was pulling away. I went back to Kim, head of the Red Team. She called the driver, who returned to pick me up.

I asked him if he had come into the lounge. He said no, and then started on his rant. He is supposed to wait 5 minutes and come into the lounge. He is supposed to keep on his schedule. If traffic is bad and he is slowed down, and he waits 5 minutes, he is off his schedule. Once he is off his schedule, he is off his schedule for the rest of the day. Then the manager gets after him. So he can’t wait 5 minutes. He waited about 1 minute. There was not enough time for him to come into the lounge. So, he just went on.

What do they want him to do? He has been there sixteen years. Let them try to fire him. Let them try. It didn’t use to be this way. He used to go to the Metro when there was someone to take to the Metro. He used to get calls from the Metro when someone wanted a ride to the dealer. It worked fine. Then they got a second van, and use it to take people to their offices or homes in this suburban area, and told him to use his van for the Metro on a regular schedule. So for 8 hours a day, he rides back and forth between the dealer and the Metro. But except for early morning (he is not there at evening rush hour), no one goes to the Metro, so he is supposed to take this van empty to the Metro, wait there five minutes, pick up no one, drive back empty to the dealer, wait five minutes, pick up no one, go back to the Metro and so forth. All it does, he says, is drive him crazy and use up gas. Why would the dealer want to waste all this gas? And it is almost summer, and that means air conditioning (which he will run full blast) and even more gas.

It’s the fault of the manager. He hates her. They used to have a good manager, and the woman who is now the manager worked for the dealer doing little things (“this and that”). Everyone liked her, and the drivers and tellers and techs got together and went to the overall manager and said: You should promote from within; we think you should make ________ the manager. And the boss listened, and she was promoted, and she changed her entire personality, and now everyone (EVERYONE) hates her, because she has messed everything up and makes him drive back and forth to the Metro all day.

He used to treat her like his daughter. Now, he won’t talk to her. He told her that he didn’t want to ever talk to her, and he didn’t want her to try to talk to him. He didn’t want to say good morning or goodbye. He was told that she got very upset by this. “That’s fine. She can be upset until eternity.” No one cares.

I asked him where he was from, although I sensed it (I don’t know why). Egypt, he said. He come to the US in the 1970s. His brother was already here. The last time he went back was 1991, but that was it. It’s a different country now; it will be like Iran. They want to get rid of the remaining Jews (didn’t know there were more than a dozen) and the Christians.

I asked him if he was a Christian. Yes, he said, and we are the real Egyptians, not the guys that run the place now.

I told him I had met a lot of Egyptians, and they all seemed very lively. Yes, he said, we are. That’s what we like. We like to tell jokes and have a good time. “You should have known my younger brother, may he rest in peace. He died last year. He was terrific. You could never take anything he said as the truth.”

“See you this evening”, I said. That’s when he told him that he didn’t work the later shift. Oh, I said, then I am going to have to listen to someone else complain all the way back? “You got that right”, he said, “Have a nice day”.

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