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Sunday, January 14, 2007

Day Off?

“Hello,” I greeted, holding the phone to my ear, while twisting to see Saturday morning had been interrupted already by only eight-thirty in the AM on my home wall clock.

“Bernie, I’m so glad I caught you at home,” a breathless woman’s voice informed me, which I did not recognize.

“Yea, my yacht’s in harbor for the weekend,” I joked, thinking I must know this woman from my wife’s long list of friends and co-workers, dopily forgetting I wear a name tag with Bernie on it every day at work.

“Excuse me?”

“I’m sorry,” I lied. “Joyce isn’t here right now, can I take a message.”

“Isn’t this Bernie Nilson?”

“No, I own Nilson Brothers Garage; but my last name isn’t Nilson, and I’m not there today. Did someone give you my home number by mistake?”

“I tried your business number,” she said, her voice raising an octave. “I’m stuck and I need help. You worked on my car, and now it’s not running.”

“Okay, you’re in luck, cause I’m at my desk, entering invoices in my database program,” I said, quickly switching to find in the Lotus Approach database worksheet section I was working on. “Give me your last name, and I’ll familiarize myself with what I’ve done to your vehicle.”

She gave me her last name, and in ten seconds I had all her records in front of me. My caller had an oil change and tune-up done three years ago. My, how time flies when we’re having fun. I explained her work record, and listened while she exclaimed that couldn’t be correct.

“Look, I’m sorry your Pontiac stuck you somewhere; but why not tell me what the conditions were when it shut down, and I’ll…”

“Pontiac?!” The lady cut me off like a fresh meat chop at the butcher’s. “I sold the Pontiac over a year ago. I own a 2002 Toyota Corolla. Don’t you ever update your records?”

Always, I thought to myself grimly, with the tedious attention to detail Scrooge would cry in envy over. First things first.

“Let’s start over,” I proceeded carefully, taking a deep breath. “You said you’re stuck. Are you on a freeway, or someplace dangerous? We need to get you somewhere safe first. Then we’ll deal with the work I’ve done or not done. Where are you?”

“I’m at home.”

Yea, me too, I reminded myself inwardly. “Okay, that’s good,” I said out loud. “Now, where’s your car?”

“It’s here at my house. It wouldn’t start at the grocery store this morning and Triple A sent a guy over to get me started. I made it back home; but when I tried to start it, it was dead again,” she explained. “I need you to come over and see what you can do to get me going.”

Boy, now there’s some good news. I have good news to give in return.

“Ma’am, I don’t do any repair work on vehicles unless they’re in my shop. Let me confirm your address, and I’ll make you an appointment to tow your Toyota in on Monday. I have to work MLK day, but I kept the schedule light, and I’ll get a look at yours after it arrives then.”

Silence reigned for long enough I thought she’d hung up on me.

“Hello?” I prompted in a quiet voice.

“Yes, I’m thinking… I don’t know what to do… I need my car.”

“I’ll do what I can on Monday, Ma’am,” I repeated.

“Fine, if that’s the best you can do,” she sighed discouragingly (I know how she felt).

The lady confirmed the last address I had for her and hung up. She did apologize for disturbing me on my day off; and hey, she could have continued the ‘you just worked on my car’ ploy for another fifteen minutes. The motoring public usually only tries that one on me when it’s been less than a year since I serviced their vehicles. Three’s a stretch; but hey, at least the Pontiac I actually worked on did just fine until she sold it. :)

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