At Ed’s Tire Store I was that guy. Just 15 minutes before closing I burst in the door raving about tires and clutching the mangled wheel.
A six man staff was standing around doing nothing. They saw me and an invisible pecking order was deployed. Three guys vanished. They were the top of the ladder and had things to do… such as avoiding work. The fourth guy on the totem pole examined the wheel and declared the rim “unusable”. The fifth shuffled around and found a tire that would fit the rim which had just been declared unusable. The two agreed the tire couldn’t be mounted on the flattened rim and they had no other rims that size. No alternative rims would match the spindle diameter. No suitable wheel tire sets existed. They didn’t have any hub that could be installed on the spindle to change tire size. Having concluded the situation was hopeless they looked at me expectantly. Perhaps I’d kindly go off on an ice flow and die?
There was a standoff. I heard the clock tick. I waited.
Finally last and lowest guy on the totem pole broke. He looked about nineteen years old and had that long suffering look of a nineteen year old doing a good job despite being surrounded by idiots twice his age. He offered to take the company’s truck and trailer to fetch my splitter.
The two peons objected because… well because they were lazy dickheads. The nineteen year old froze, keys in hand. The poor kid was stuck between his desire to do a good job and outranking employees who are paycheck cashing leeches. I’ll never get used to 2015. Using the tire company truck to drum up business for the tire company with a guy who needs a tire shouldn’t be controversial. Ideally they’d bill me a few bucks and make me smile while doing it and then lock in my business on the repair end. Say it with me people; capitalism is not rocket science.
Time to give some instructions in customer service. I got in close and personal with the two who’d made the objection and spoke in hushed impolite tones. After a few declarative sentences I’d made my point rather forcefully. I’m not going to say what words were used but Officer Friendly, sitting in his warm cruiser a few miles away, probably sensed a disturbance in the force. The two bits of dead weight turned three shades of pale. They’d gained a new understanding of what a bearded woodcutter might do when his equipment was in jeopardy and just how willing he was to do it right here, right now.
One of the two losers nodded at the kid, who bolted for the door, and then they vanished. The kid had a huge smile. He’d enjoyed the show. I helped him hitch the company trailer to their truck (not mine… do that and a lawyer would explode) and he followed me down the road. It was 5 minutes to closing time at Ed’s and everyone’s car was already warming up in the parking lot. Real crack team of hard workers at Ed’s.
On the road we found Mrs. Curmudgeon parked a quarter mile from the the police officer. My splitter squatted between them like a mechanical no-man’s land. Neither had greeted the other. I’d told the officer a small hatchback might show up. They’d both decided to stay in their warm cars. Braving the cold was for lunatics with flat tires.
I was embarrassed at all the hubub. The whole road was lit up. Four vehicles and a trailer, all with headlights and flashers. Of course the police cruiser was lit up like a disco ball. All this to rescue a 600 pound wood splitter? We we’re probably on somebody’s Facebook page.
The kid backed up the trailer with the experienced hand of a country boy. Excellent! The police officer got out and shivered in the cold. (Police uniforms are designed by desk jockeys.) Three of us together slipped the splitter onto the trailer in one quick motion. I was thankful for the help. I’ve tried to lift it myself and it’ll kill one man alone. I noticed the teen and the police officer had the same traits; polite, business like, restrained, helpful. Society isn’t over yet.
I said thanks to the police officer about ten times. Mrs. Curmudgeon, who’d never left her car, lit out for home, followed by the police officer, my hulking truckload of wood, and finally the tire store truck & trailer. Big night for a rural highway.
Soon my woodsplitter was locked in Ed’s service lot with a repair tag. It was ten minutes after closing and the place was deserted. I stuffed a $20 the teenager’s hand and said thanks. He looked worried. “How am I going to write that up on the repair tag?” He mumbled.
“Don’t. Buy a pizza and never mention it to the jackwagons who didn’t help you.” He beamed and cleared out. It was over. I felt the weight of a really rough week seeping into my bones. I stood there a bit trying to let stress fade. My splitter was safely behind chain link. Tomorrow would be another day.
Having bought time, I decided to use money and awesome to fix everything the right way.
So you actually think a woodsplitter is safe from theft merely because it is behind a chain link fence? Man, you must not have any capable thieves in your AO. Or are they all just girly men without REAL pickup trucks???
Of course any idiot can defeat a chain link fence but that’s not what makes it safe. The goal was to insert the woodsplitter into a situation where stealing it would carry too many drawbacks.
A woodsplitter on the side of the road is a target of opportunity. A few losers and a truck can steal it and enjoy having a “free” splitter. It’s too easy.
A woodsplitter in a commercial service lot with cameras and alarms and so on is a different situation. Sure you can cut the fence and run off with some stuff before the alarm rouses someone. But the lot had a few trucks and several thousand dollars worth of fence gates and thirty to fifty riding lawnmowers, roto tillers, mowers, cement mixers, and whatnot… many of which have something wrong with them. Only a complete moron would break in just to steal one little broken woodsplitter. Nor would a “heist” happen. Your garden variety thug isn’t going to arrange a flatbed to haul all that stuff and the probably don’t know a fence to convert that stuff into cash. And if someone stole three trucks and thirty riding lawnmowers the cops (or the store owners) would swarm the county with a nicely printed list of serial numbers from the service database. Low end thieves would be caught in a few days and they know it. High end thieves find a better host for their activities and thus become politicians.
“A woodsplitter on the side of the road is a target of opportunity. A few losers and a truck can steal it and enjoy having a “free” splitter. It’s too easy.”
Heck, practically anything parked along the side of a road (doesn’t matter if it’s urban, semi, or rural) is an open overt CHALLENGE to the opportunist. Kinda like “Yea, I’m just sitting here. Whatcha gonna do about it?!”
Great story! I felt your pain (in an entirely manly way of course) ;’)
Most theives by nature are not interested in work, but rather a quick tidy profit. Cutting a fence, heaving a crippled log splitter onto a pickup truck screams of work. Easier to wait for a boy racer to break down and steal the fast-n-furious trinkets off his Corolla.
Working retail brought the following home to me quite quickly; Every single day you go in to work at a job involving other people there is going to be at least one jerk. If you are lucky, it won’t be you.
75% of the people I meet in retail as a customer are cheerful, helpful to the limit of their knowledge (Usually a low limit, though. When you pays peanuts, you gets monkeys), happy to go to a little trouble. The remaining 25% are wastes of oxygen. They prove conclusively that it is too hard to fire somebody in this day and age, because if they still have jobs terminating somebody’s employment must involve proving they have assumed room temperature,
Wait. You met a 19 year old who didn’t understand the concept of a tip? At a tire store? Dude, now I know you’re making this up.
And btw, having worked at a tire store, the one constant no matter your race, creed, color or national origin is that your life sucks. Showing up 15 minutes before quitting time with a problem that will actually require effort is not considered a reasonable thing to do. I’m pretty sure you’d have gotten the same reaction in Switzerland. In China they’ve have tried to harm you.
Have you seen the workforce lately? I’ve talked to plants with more initiative. That 19 year old will be properly trained until he’s dumber than a stump in due time.
Oh yes, showing up at 15 before close was a total jackass move. Then again I didn’t plan it like that. If it had broken down at my house I’d have waited ’till Monday morning like a civilized human being. (I didn’t write it up yet but at Monday morning they were no more receptive. Some stores are just staffed by the inert.)
When you pay minimum wage, or even the low end of the prevailing wage in the area, the inert is what you GET. I am still astonished by the number of managements I have had dealings with or heard of who clearly fail to grasp this. I worked for Suncoast (the video branch of Sam Goody) before they went belly up. At one point the higher ups were circulating alter asking the rank and file what they could do to help retain their senior employees. They were looking at premiums, contests, and a variety of such tripe.
Raising salaries wasn’t even on the list.
At that point, the company was run out of, I believe, Montana or Wisconsin or sums such hive of economic activity. Their most acute problems with turnover were (wait for it) ON THE COASTS. It had apparently never penetrated their solid biscuit heads that a salary that is decent in Wisconsin is barely above the starvation level in the Washington metro area.
I had a great manager, who I confidently expect worked for them until the end. His wife made $85K a year. He had jobs at Suncoast and Babbages for the discounts.
Management; you can always tell them, you just can’t tell them much.
Worked for the county for 22 years. At the end I had a boss that got upset if I helped a “customer” (another county employee) too long. Her comment to me, “you can take customer service to far”
Your boss was a loser.
His boss was an AA special. Not a single “loser” in that bunch. Those who have to cover for their sloth and incompetence, however…
And a disease vector of loser-hood.
I’ve worked retail and with the public my whole life. I’m 27. Work for an auto parts store. I’m the “least experienced” man there, and i’ve been there nine years. People come in every day and tell us that they’re astonished that we actually come out from behind the counter to pull parts and help them find what they’re looking for. People look surprised when we grab their order and carry it out to the car for them without being asked. “Nobody does that up the street.” they say. Well, I look at it like this: number one, if I don’t help you find what you need, then the store don’t make no money. No money, no paycheck–and fat boy likes his vittles! Number two: courtesy and helpfulness are part not being a shitty human being.
As for being the guy that comes in as the door locks closed, it happens. If you’re they guy that has a real problem, and you NEED my help, you’ll get it–even if it’s eleven thirty when we get done. We leave the house in the middle of the night and come open up for the Fire department, Police department, EMTs, garbage companies, anyone who HAS to go right NOW. Shit happens, we deal with it. If you’re the guy that waits until the last friggin minute to come get his oil change that he’s been needing for the last two months, or you come in at thirty seconds ’till closing four times a week for piddly BS like one nut or six inches of fuel line, yeah–you’re an asshole and i’m gonna lock the door and whistle as I scream by you on the way out of the parking lot after I tell you that everything’s locked up and shut down.
Very true–most retail employees suck, especially the man near the top who shovels it down on those below him, but you get what you give.
Sorry for the rant. Customer service isn’t dead–it’s just hiding out on the endangered species list. Love your site and your style. Keep it up!
As a conscientious auto parts guy you’re practically a hero. You ‘ought to be wearing a cape!
In my defence I would never ever have arrived at T – 15 minutes if I had any other likely solution. It wasn’t “bleeding on the floor” emergency but I was pretty much dead in the water and I really didn’t want to be loading a 600# woodsplitter alone in the middle of the night. I very rarely let myself get that stuck but we’ve all been there. Also if the Tire Store guys had been more helpful I was planning a 6 tire replacement for my truck pretty soon and was going to shuffle my business their way along with the splitter. (They’ll never know the grand plus of easy work they chased away.)
There are still young people who want to do a good job. Unfortunately, they are rare.
More common, are worthless managers. I retired from my company at 66 rather than working until 70 because ITT bought us and ruined us.
Your comment: “I’ll never get used to 2015.”
I have often said that I should have never left the 1950’s.
Steve (no longer in CA)
All true. (Congratulations on fleeing CA?)
Thank you. Yes, I’m glad to be out of there.
The land is great, even spectacular, most of the people are as nice as you’ll find anywhere but the government is bad.
My theory is that, in much of the state, the weather and terrain are so good that people tolerate the slime. Then, to guard their ego, convince themselves that it’s all good.
Maybe not, but that’s all I can come up with.
Thanks for the blog. Good writing and interesting subjects.