My day at Jim Coleman Toyota (19 cents)

I brought my car to Jim Coleman Toyota precisely at 8:30 a.m. for its 40,000 mile checkup. My Red Team leader told me that the estimated cost of the service, plus a key battery I needed, would be about $80. He also advised that they should be completed about 11 a.m., barring unexpected findings. This is what happened next:

8:45. I walked to the Corner Bakery and ordered a coffee and a slice of pumpkin bread, sat down, opened the Pickwick Papers, and did not leave my seat until 10:30.

10:30. Leaving the Corner Bakery and being afraid that the car is not quite ready, I took a short walk through the first floor corridors of Montgomery Mall. Hundreds of stores. Extraordinary amounts of stock and goods. My reaction is: who will buy all this stuff? No one.

11:00. Car not ready. Sat down on a bench. Back to the Pickwick Papers.

11:45. Went to my Team Leader and asked the status. He looks on the computer and says that the car is almost ready.

12:15. The Team Leader comes and gets me. He tells me not that the car is ready, but that they have finished looking at it, and that the estimated cost of what they recommend is not $80, but rather $1,250. I need a new battery, I need new tires, I need a brake system flush, and various other things. Do I believe them? Half-way.

But he also tells me that the car won’t be ready until the end of the day. My goal was not to spend a full day at Jim Coleman. I was staying three morning hours because that isn’t that much difference from the commute time.

He tells me not to worry, that he will get me a free loaner car. He and I discuss the various items on his should-do list and I decide that putting things off just postpones the replacements and because we have a number of road trips in the near future, we shouldn’t take chances.

12:45. He calls Enterprise Rental Car and they take me to their facility, which is 2 minutes away and serves the neighborhood’s many auto agencies. When we get there, and go inside, and they photocopy my drivers license, etc. Then they tell me they have two cars they can give me, either a pickup truck or a large van. “What”, I say? I really have nowhere to drive but home and I really don’t want to drive a truck or a van through the city, so I turn down the car and ask for a ride back to the dealer. (By the way, Enterprise also told me that while Coleman would pay for the car, they do not pay for gas, and they do not offer any insurance coverage. He was surprised that they didn’t tell me that.)

1:15. Back at the dealer, I ask for a shuttle ride to the Metro. I am told that the next shuttle leaves in something more than 20 minutes. I can’t get a ride more quickly, I ask? No, he said (ignoring the history of the day). He then said: “We have someone who can take you, but we have NO VEHICLES!”. No vehicles? Jim Coleman Toyota, Jim Coleman Cadillac and Jim Coleman Infiniti have no vehicles? I would guess they have more than a thousand.

1:45. I arrive at the Metro, get on a train, open the Pickwick Papers, and read another 30 minutes.

2:15. Off the Metro, I walk home and at 2:45 enjoy a peanut butter sandwich for lunch.

4:30. I have not heard from my Team Leader I call. He tells me the car will be ready in 15 minutes. I leave the house, walk to the Metro, get on the train, get off at 5:30, get the Jim Coleman shuttle. The driver is Mr. Don’t Bother Me With Conversation (as opposed to the earlier driver, who was quite friendly and simpatico).

6:00. Pick up car, pay, realize that the new battery has thrown off the car’s clock, the set radio stations, etc.

6:45. I am home.

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