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Thursday, March 22, 2007

Window Trouble

A late model Ford Mustang convertible drove up into my shop as I exited the office this morning. A stunning, red-haired woman in a black skirt and white blouse exited the driver’s side door, beaming a smile capable of melting the coldest businessman’s heart; but they don’t call me the iceman for nothing. :) Her hair was long and tied back tightly, accenting her facial features. She may have been anywhere between her late twenties to her late thirties. I smiled back politely, with proper accompanying helpful concerned look, I’ve learned to fake expertly over the years.

“Good morning, can I help you?”

She doesn’t say anything for a moment. She simply glances at her car, and then walks up into my air space. I hate that. I don’t care if you’re the reincarnation of Aphrodite, my no fly zone is three feet, ten feet if you’ve hit the bourbon before coming over to see me. She looks up at me with that brightly imaginative look I always find hard to describe. It reminds me of that empty-headed blonde on Miami CSI, who always smiles at inappropriate times.

“I need your help,” the red-head informs me in a husky voice.

I nod understandingly while taking an unobtrusive step back toward my office, kicking up the door jamb, and allowing the door to close. I turn back toward her, only now I’ve regained my three foot no fly zone. She notices, and the smile goes away momentarily.

“Are you having a problem with your car?” I ask, interest painted over my features falsely. I smell a rat.

“My driver’s side electric window won’t work,” she informs me with a gesture back at her car. “I live in Burlingame, and I’m here visiting my sister, Kelsey Powell (the names have been changed to protect the innocent). She said you could help me out.”

I recognize the sister's name. She owns a Jeep she brings in after trying every backyard Bob mechanic in the area first, and then gripes when I have to charge her for undoing the damage. I have a feeling Kelsey is looking for payback.

“If you leave the car now, I can get it checked out in the next couple hours, and let you know how much it will cost to fix it. The diagnostic fee is seventy-five dollars.”

“You charge just to check it?” She asks in complete shock. “The window doesn’t work. How many things could it possibly be?”

“Quite a few,” I reply patiently. “It could be as simple as the master switch, or as complicated as a window motor or harness problem.”

“Couldn’t you just give it a look, and come up with some ballpark figure on the repair?” She asks sweetly.

“No,” I smile back sweetly. “Would you like to leave it?”

“Maybe I should go to the dealer,” She comments thoughtfully, looking up and off to my left in serious contemplation.

“Broadway Motors is the nearest Ford dealer in the area,” I remark helpfully, turning to the office. She must think I just fell off the vegetable truck. Window diagnostics at the dealer start at double my modest price. “I’ll get the address for you.”

“No…” she sighs hugely, “I don’t have time for this. Can I get it back today?”

“I can let you know for sure in a couple hours, once I find out what’s wrong.”

“Fine, here’s my card with cell-phone number,” she states with just a hint of exasperation creeping into her voice as she fishes a card out of her matching black purse, and hands it to me. “The keys are in the ignition.”

She turns to walk out.

“Just a second, Ma’am,” I halt her with my abrupt tone. “I have to write up an invoice, and give you a copy of the estimate.”

“Is that really necessary? You know my sister.”

Yea, I know your sister, I’m thinking. That’s why all the T’s will be crossed and the I’s dotted before you get out of here.

“Yes, it’s the state law,” I hide behind the state of California expertly, quickly ducking into my office and retrieving clipboard and invoice. Minutes later she’s on her way with estimate in hand.

Mr. Mustang turns out to only need a master switch, which probably burned out when it drank in the cup of coffee coating the outer armrest. I removed the door panel; and cleaned up from the master switches’ coffee break, while checking for harness damage, and manually energizing the window motor. I received the big sigh on the phone, even though the estimate was a couple hundred dollars less than a replacement window motor. Both sisters came to pick up the car. ‘Kelsey’ left after dropping off the red-head with only grim look for me. No smiles, no thank you, just a muttered ‘I can’t believe a simple switch could cost this much’. She glanced at me with some irritation, as she popped into the driver’s seat, and immediately checked my work. I waved, and mouthed a thank you at the office door. She left without an acknowledgement. Gee, and she seemed so attracted to me and friendly earlier. :)


December Quinn said...

I love your "No soup for you!" attitude. I'm so jealous!

BernardL said...

It's the only thing keeping me sane, D. Ninety-eight percent of my customers are salt of the earth folk, who just want good service. I only pull out the 'Soup Nazi' for the other two percent. :)