Known Johnson

July 26, 2005

A clockwork Diehard

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tom @ 7:32 pm

Like clockwork, my battery died just about exactly two years after buying my car. It’s pretty amazing, really, that I can almost predict it, to the point where just this weekend the question crossed my mind: “Hmm, I wonder how much longer that battery’s going to last?” The answer, I found out this morning was, “exactly two more days.”

Having shown no signs of problems until now, I was kind of surprised at the chugging-chugging-chugging my engine went through to turn over at lunch today. When it finally started, I just looked off in the distance with a sigh, knowing my lunch, which would have been a leisurely trip to grab some Wendy’s and maybe, just maybe, visit Zia Records in search of a bargain, was ruined. Instead, I quickly ran through the drive-thru (so as not to have to shut off the car,) ate quickly on the way to Sears, and just gave in to fate: why stress out? There’s nothing I could do about it, I absolutely, positively, 100% could not afford to have a car with a possibly dead battery while I have a very pregnant wife to ferry around.

I pulled into the special battery-only lanes at the Sears automotive center, stood around a few minutes and saw exactly zero personnel around. A garage full of cars needing work and no one was around? Heading inside, I heard a woman whining about something with a tire, something about a $15 charge for tax and the environmental fee, and the tire was replaced for free under warranty. She just went over essentially the same things – “I’m late, I missed an appointment, you should wave the $15/I’m late, I missed an appointment, you should wave the $15/I’m late, I missed an appointment, you should wave the $15 . . . ” I couldn’t see her, mind, you, she was down on the floor with her also whining child, and as the minutes rolled on, the woman quickly progressed from mere whining to absolute bawling, until finally she reappeared above the counter, glanced at me with a look of shocked embarassment, and after a few awkward moments, slipped free of the salesman to find a more private place to overdo her reactions. I could still hear her, however, and within a few minutes she’d managed to convince the manager to take care of the tax and fees. I realized while listening to this, and her amusingly surprised reaction at my presence, that this is probably how this woman deals with her world – not by simply coming to terms with things she must do, but by whining and crying until she gets her way. It works for some people, but it certainly does come with a price.

The salesman that eventually helped me seemed set on selling anything but just a battery, especially a set of rims. He didn’t come right out and say it, of course. “Toyota Matrix? Man, that’s a great looking car.” I agreed. “You ever see one of these with some 18s (18-inch rims) and some low-profile tires?” I nodded. “Man, sure does look sweet like that.” I pointed out that that’s way beyond my means today, hoping that he’d get the hint that I’m just plain not interested in new rims. “Eh, not really, you just start saving some cash now and when you need to replace these tires you’ve got some extra for new rims.” True, but I’m planning on selling this car in a couple years with these tires. I didn’t bother to go into this – I really just wanted my battery and to get back to work. And “save up”? What am I, 12?

Finally I was free, and I wandered around the mall for a while, hitting Suncoast to check out the latest movie- and TV-related figures that I’ve missed out on (they now make Adult Swim figures! I was disappointed in the selection – most of the big-name stuff was not stocked, unfortunately) and ultimately winding up browsing the slim-pickin’s at Waldenbooks. Surprisingly, I stumbled upon an Arthur C. Clarke book I didn’t even know existed, and figuring that, while organizing books last night I was thinking about how I missed reading his stuff, it must be fate or karma or what-have-you, and took the book to the register. I figured, if they’re going to be as slow as it appears at Sears, I might as well have something to read for a bit.

It turns out, however, that my battery was done and I was ready to go . . . if only I could get my salesman to let me pay and get on my way. He was, not surprisingly, deeply engaged with another customer who did want a set of tires and rims, and for whom the selection on the walls was just not enough. No, even while standing there, holding my receipt, clearing my throat, just wanting to take the two minutes to finish up my transaction, the salesman was so wrapped up in wheel-glory that he simply couldn’t tear himself away. I heard a lot of terms such as “sweet” and “badass” being tossed about, and I knew it was a lost cause. I finally convinced the “I’m in training” salesman (I know because his badge said so) to coerce another salesman to finish me up, having successfully watche my lunch blossom from the usual hour to well over twice that. So much for finishing my project at work, which I was so close to finishing, today.

I left with a little sigh of relief – not just because my work there was done, but because the man my original salesman was helping, in between many more calls of “sweet,” had mumbled something about “checking those out when I’ve got some money.” Sweet.

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