June 25, 2007

I Just Wanted An Oil Change

Simon says one person can’t change the world.
Simon is my regular nail tech at “Nails-R-Us”. His ‘born-in-Vietnam advice always amuses me with its profound accuracy.

Today Simon was restraining me from going after the Tire & Oil man at the Wal-Mart on Morse Road in Columbus, Ohio.

I had eased up to the “Customer’s Only” sign on a chain link across the entrance to the garage at the back of my (usually) favorite Wal-Mart. Quickly, a bright-faced young black man stepped out offering to assist.

“Do you want an oil change today, “ he asked politely. Saturn filters are not always available so he continued, “What is the year of your car? How big is the engine? What type of Saturn is this?” he questioned as I reached for the manual book from the glove box because I didn’t know any of the answers.

If you’ve ever gotten your oil changed at Wal-Mart, remember how you used to park and go inside to the desk to tell them what you wanted done? Then you’d go shopping until you hear your name mispronounced over the loudspeaker. (Unless you have an easy name like, “Linda Cash” which I don’t have anymore…) Now, those details are taken care in a little station out in the parking lot.

As the inquisitive young man stood waiting for me to provide birth info about my car, his boss (I assume) stepped out of the office followed by a young woman and a small child. (It seems the young man had sent the women to the office to ask about repairing a tire instead of attending to those details at his station in the parking lot.)

The older man’s voice was angry, demeaning and demanding although I couldn’t make out his exact words. The look of pure anger on the older man’s face was more shocking than his shock of white/gray crew-style haircut.

“You should…You didn't…You can't…” he yelled at the young man who was assisting me. I rolled up my car window and started backing away.

Just then my helper came to the window and calmly stated that he had to, “go inside”. He looked somewhat confused and embarrassed.

Shaken but unafraid, I rolled the window down a few inches and looked at him with a knowing smile, “It’s terrible when you have an ass-hole for a boss, isn’t it.”

Well, it wasn’t fair. This wasn’t suppose to happen at Wal-Mart, and while I was shocked at my own words, I was glad I said them because the young man needed me to say what he couldn't at that moment.

I drove around to the front of Wal-Mart to park and go in for an overdue nail appt. with my friend, Simon.

“Hello Miss Linda. I make nails short for work. Vacation over,” Simon said with a beaming smile.

I asked about his children and greeted his pretty wife who also works there.

As his nail buffer whirled around my fingertips, I told the story of my ill-fated oil change.

“I think I should go back there and tell that man he shouldn’t have done that. It was rude and mean.”

Simon had instant advice. “No, you not know whole story. Maybe a family matter make him unhappy and he feel it at work. One person cannot change the world!”

Not completely in agreement with Simon, I told him that sometimes one person has made a big difference in the world, but I doubt it will ever be me.

Not able to leave well enough alone and disregarding Simon’s good advice, I take a grocery cart and move toward the back of Wal-Mart when my nails are dry.

“Just a peek to see what he looks like up close,” I argue with myself as I push the cart through the vegetable section.

Closer and closer to the big sign “Auto Service”. I scan the area for the old man....

“Can I help you?"

Now how often does someone at Wal-Mart ask if they can help you when you aren’t even asking for help?

His nametag said, "Assist. Mgr”, so I belted right in with my story about the incident at the oil change area.

“That was wrong. He had no right to yell at the young man who was trying to help me,” I repeated for the third time with tears in my eyes.

Mr. “Assist. Mgr” seemed to know who I was talking about. “An older man with a crew cut?” he asked.

“I’ll take care of the matter in private. It should not have happened here,” he earnestly assured me.

Glancing around to see if Simon had spotted me disobeying his wise counsel, I quickly headed out of the store and over to Firestone where Jim had asked me to go in the first place.

There, they gave me a “multiple visit” discount, and after waiting for almost 1 and 1/2 hours, they said I need new tires.

In other areas of my life,

Have you ever had a period of time when you feel like you’ve forgotten something all the time? It’s been driving me crazy and because of that persistent nudging, I assess everything I’ve done or am suppose to do. I check the calendar for work schedule and doctor’s appointments. Birthdays. Thank-you notes I should have sent. Calls I should have made. There something out there waiting for me, and I haven’t thought of it yet!

My friend at the post office told me today that she will retire next week after 30 years. While the rest of us resist going to work and look forward to our days off, I expect her to be behind that counter anytime I go with packages or mail. I know that if I ask, she’ll whip out the latest picture of her grandchild. She’ll look at the address of what I’m mailing because after reading my book, she said she feels like family.

“Oh, this is to your son.” Or, "Your friends! How are they?”

Yep, I’ll miss her on the job.

Have you noticed a new rage these days? Most of your receipts have a number to call to enter for a chance to win anything from $1,000 to $1,000,000 if you answer the survey questions? (That’s one million – I counted the zeros.) I’ve never been lucky at winning anything, but I’m saving my receipts and entering many of them.

Today, gas is highest in Chicago and cheapest in Jackson, Mississippi. Probably not enough to make it worth driving to either city.

I miss my children. I wish I knew where my brother, Thomas “TJ” was, and I still wonder what I’m forgetting….

Take Care on the Journey,


Bringer of Peace said...

I have been reading your blogs even if I haven't been letting you know. We just got back from campmeeting, from court, from house tearing up cleaning, from fixing Carl's tire, from letting a friend cry on my shoulder, from . . . . Sorry I haven't written sooner. Appreciate your comments and thoughts.
Bringer of Peace

Mountain Laurel said...

I've missed you, but figured you were busy helping someone or many ones...

Thanks for your note.

Clay Feet said...

A bit too familiar stories. Amy had a fiasco at Wal-Mart a few months ago where they returned the wrong repaired tire to her. She wanted me to fix the problem right away and...
Anyway, I thought I would give a little advice if you haven't bought tires yet. Please don't ever buy Firestone brand. If you have a Discount Tire in your area I would recommend one of their mid-priced tires. Pretty well anything but Firestone. I learned the very hard way many years ago.

Mountain Laurel said...

We haven't bought tires yet. The pads need replacing before we lay out cash for tires. Always something with a car. Someone once said, "You don't own things, they own you."
I gave the Discount Tire advice to my youngest son there in Berrien Springs just a few days ago....Thanks.