Fun at the Chevy dealership

Peggy and I took the van to the Chevy dealership yesterday for an oil change and a grease job. Afterwards, we went to eat. Before I went into the restaurant, I crawled under the van to be sure everything had been done properly. It had not. I could tell this because the grease fittings were still covered with road scum.

After our meal, we took the van back to the shop. The service rep, the mechanic, the shop foreman, Peggy, the dogs, and I, all gathered beneath it (this would be after it was lifted into the air). There was no denying that the work hadn’t been done. “Why wasn’t it greased?” Peggy asked. I hadn’t planned to inquire because I knew there was no good reason, and I didn’t want to cause more embarrassment than necessary. There followed an awkward moment during which everyone pretended they hadn’t heard anything. Peggy persisted. “Did you guys not hear me? I asked why the van wasn’t greased.”

After another awkward silence, the mechanic said he had been distracted by his difficulty in removing the air filter. Well, this didn’t make much sense because the air filter is under the hood, and the grease fittings are under the van, so if you’re working on one, you’re nowhere near the other, but Peggy isn’t up on her automotive topography, and I wasn’t going to tell her. I had noticed that the shop foreman was having to show the “mechanic” where the grease fittings were located, so I had pretty much settled on the theory that the “mechanic” was a new hire who didn’t know his job any too well. After all, a lot of new cars don’t even have grease fittings.

When the job was done, I waited to see what the service rep was going to offer us to make up for our time and trouble. When all he extended was his “sincerest apology,” I asked for a free lube and oil change next time. The dealership manager was consulted, and he agreed to this, but he took his own sweet time in signing a form authorizing the work. Meanwhile the service rep and I talked. He told me about his history in the automotive business (he started in his father’s radiator shop at age eleven, and became a service rep ten years ago following a back injury that made him unable to be a mechanic); and I told him that I’ve had two cancer scares this year, so I’m determined to teach Peggy as much as I can about things she would need to know if she were alone—things like checking up on other people’s work, especially the kinds of work that those people wouldn’t expect her to check up on. This is no easy task, because Peggy doesn’t want to think about being alone.