It’s Monday morning, and I’m in my usual bad mood. Dishonest Used Car Dealership has a new pile of broken Mercedes-Benzes that need attention, and, as usual, the local Mercedes dealership is being a bunch of sh!theads about getting us parts. They started making the OM616 engine sometime around when Jesus was just being taken down from the cross and only quit making them about two weeks ago, so how bloody hard can it be to get parts for one?
Then I discover that someone, and I have no idea who (Colossal Redneck), has drawn dicks on random sheets of paper in my printer, so I’ve got to either throw the whole pile out or fish through the whole f*cking ream so I don’t send a customer out the door with a big dong drawn right through their invoice. And then the phone is ringing!
”Service, this is 36055512.”
The man on the other end of the like spoke slowly, firmly, deliberately, like you might to a child that’s being scolded.
Customer: “I am making an appointment for an oil change on my car.”
Me: “Sure thing. Can I have the year, make, and model of your car?”
Customer: “2000. BMW. 323i.”
Me: “Okay, you have a 2000 323i for an oil change. Is there anything else you’d like us to have a look at while it’s in?”
Customer: “sigh Whenever.”
Me: “Tomorrow good?”
Me: “How about Wednesday?”
Alright, how about I just go ahead and recite every day of the week for you.
Me: “Alright, maybe Thursday, then?”
Customer: “FRIDAY. MORNING.”
Thank you, that wasn’t so hard, was it?
Me: “Friday morning it is. Bring it in any time, we can have it done in 30 minutes. I just need your phone number, and we’re all set.
Customer: “I’m already in your system.”
Me: “Great! Can I get your last name so I can look up your file?”
The person on the other end of the line gave a pretentious laugh.
Oh good, one of these. The last time I checked, this was an auto shop, not the f*cking Miss Cleo hotline.
Me: “Yes sir, and our system works off either your name or your car’s VIN. I’ll need one of the two to get your information up.
Customer. “FINE. My last name is mumble.”
Me: “I’m sorry sir, I didn’t catch that.”
Me: “Maybe there’s something wrong with the line, I’m having a hard time hearing you. Can you spell it for me?”
Customer: “It’s spelled exactly like it sounds.”
Well, it sounded like mumble, so not real helpful there, homeboy.
Me: “I’m sorry, sir, I’m having a bit of trouble hearing you. Maybe your connection is breaking up? If you’d just spell your last name for me real quick, I’ll have everything I need.”
Cue the ranting.
Customer: “I don’t have time for this! I’m already in your system, I don’t understand why I…”
What a shame, the phone call “dropped.” Look, I’m trying to do my god-damned job here so I can actually call you when your stupid car is done having its oil changed. I’m not asking for your social security number and the names and addresses of three references, this isn’t a Department of Defense security screening, I just need some basic f*cking info so I can do my dumb little job.
The phone immediately rang.
Me: “Service, this is 36055512.”
It was the same customer.
Customer: “You hung up on me!”
Me: “I’m terribly sorry, sir, we seem to be having some kind of connection issue, and the call dropped. Now, all I need is your last name so I can look up your car’s records.”
Customer: “FINE. IT’S MUMBLE.”
Me: “…would you mind spelling that for me, please?”
Customer: “IT’S SPELLED JUST LIKE…”
Gee, he’s just having all kinds of cell phone problems, isn’t he? Come on, this isn’t hard. Pronounce your damn name or spell it, I don’t care which, but you’re going to do one of the two.
The phone rang.
Me: “Service, this is…”
Me: “So we did. You don’t happen to be going through the tunnels do you? We get all kinds of dropped connections from there.”
Customer: “MY LAST NAME IS MUMBLE!”
He repeated it a few more times for effect.
Customer “MUMBLE MUMBLE MUMBLE!”
Now, hanging up on this clown was beginning to get pretty hilarious, but I had other lines ringing that needed my particular flavor of irritability.
Me: “Alright, Mr. mumble, I’ve got you scheduled for Friday morning. Just to make sure my records are up to date, can I get a phone number to reach you at?”
He gave me his cell phone number and into the schedule his information went:
Mr. Mumble, 2000 323i, Oil / filter, [Phone number].
”Hey, can y’all print up the day’s schedule?”
Colossal Redneck was hollering across the hall at me. It was Friday morning. He could perfectly well have just looked at the schedule on his monitor or printed it himself, but he was a piece of sh*t and he liked making me jump just because he could. I grabbed a few sheets of dick-paper out of the recycling and printed the schedule on them for him.
CR: “What in the f*ck is a Mr. Mumble?”
I laughed. I had all but forgotten about the incident at the beginning of the week until he reminded me. I relayed the story.
Me: “…and so I kept hanging up on him and telling him his line dropped. I mean, how hard is it to spell your name?”
CR frowned at me and shook his head. Then, he cracked and a smile crept over his face.
CR: “Ya know, there’s a special place in hell for people who’d rather spend more time bein’ assholes than jes’ gettin’ the job done, ya know?”
This was as close as CR ever got to giving me permission to be a dick to a customer. But, it was a slow, rainy Friday, we were bored, and I could tell he was looking for anything to entertain us. Plus, oil changes made us zero money with how little we charged for them. In fact, we figured out that we typically lost about $20 for every oil change we did.
What we should have done was bump the price up and not try to compete with the local quick lube shops, but Rom and The Amazon were convinced we were going to be the number one volume repair shop in the metro area, no matter if we bankrupted ourselves in the process. In order to hasten the bankruptcy process, they had advertised our oil changes on one of the local radio stations without bothering to consult anyone in service first. The price they advertised them at was so low that I could tell when our ads ran just by the sheer volume of phone calls.
The only value in doing a cheap oil change is as a loss leader: it gives the technician a chance to give a quick look over the car and find other things that need to be repaired, things we could actually make some damn money on. But, the vast, vast majority of the time you get cheap-sh*t customers who are not interested in anything extra, no matter how bad their brakes are screaming or how many error codes are stored in the car’s PCM.
It was a losing proposition, especially since the loss we were taking on every oil change ultimately reflected in our commission checks. We all hated dealing with these ludicrously-cheap oil changes, and Colossal Redneck and I both were up for doing just about anything to get out of them.
Around 11:00, a black BMW pulled into the parking lot. This was my cue. In walked a man in a cheap polyester suit. He walked into my office and flicked his car key at me. It bounced off the bridge of my nose and clattered to the floor.
Mr. Mumble: “I’ll be in the waiting room. Hurry up.”
Oh no you didn’t, gir’frien’.
Me: “One sec, sir, I just need to find you on the schedule real quick. Can I get your last name?”
Mr. Mumble: “sigh It’s [clearly pronounced last name].”
Oh, so now he can pronounce it clearly. How about that.
Me: “Great! Why don’t you have a seat real quick while I find you on the schedule and print up a quick piece of paperwork.”
Mr. Mumble sat down across from me and tapped his fingers on his desk impatiently while I pulled up his file.
Immediately my IM client lit up.
CR: “r u lookng him up?”
Me: “Yeah, why?”
Me: “His file just shows oil changes on this and another car, nothing else.”
CR: “lets git rid of him”
Me: “You’re the boss.”
Colossal Redneck shot me a grin from across the hall. I made a show of pretending to scroll down the list of appointments on my screen.
Me: “I’m terribly sorry, sir, but I don’t see your name on the schedule.”
I typed his last name into the search box and flicked the monitor around so he could see “zero results.”
Mr. Mumble: “I don’t have time for this! Figure it out!”
He stood and turned to head toward the waiting room, but Colossal Redneck strolled across the hall and intercepted him.
CR: “I’m all kinds a’ sorry, sir, but what seems ta be the trouble?”
Mr. Mumble: “Your employee managed to forget about my appointment. I don’t have time to be dealing with this kind of incompetence.”
CR: “Now, now, sir, my friend here and I don’t always be seein’ eye-to-eye ‘bout things, but I haven’t known ‘im to be incompetent.”
CR turned to me and gave me a wink.
CR: “How’s that there schedule lookin’ for the day, you think we kin sneak ‘im in?”
Me: “Packed solid. We’re booked all day, I’m afraid. I’d love to sneak him in, but we’re way overbooked as it is.”
CR turned back to Mr. Mumble.
CR: “Well, I’m real sorry about the confusion, but I’ll tell ya what, if’n ya' give me a minute, I’ll do my damnedest an’ sneak ‘er into the bay and git that there oil change done for ya. How’s that sound?”
In my experience, there is a kind of studied arrogance and anger that the kind of douchenozzles who buy stripped-down base-model German cars uniquely possess. It’s not everyone who buys a base-model German car, of course, but it’s plenty of them. It’s hard to describe, this weird theatrical aggression, but it’s as though it’s practiced, like these people just stand in the shower where their voices sound deep and powerful and practice their fantasy arguments out loud each morning. I’ve seen it a lot, and you get to where you can see it coming from a distance.
It doesn’t seem like it’s about being angry at something in particular, it sure doesn’t seem like it’s about being right, per se, it’s more like it’s about feeling superior and powerful, and so it comes out even when there really isn’t anything to be shouty about. The funny thing is, you just about never see it out of someone with an E55 or a C4S or an M5, it’s always the jackasses who barely scraped up enough scratch for a 4-banger C-class just so they could make sure everyone in earshot knew they had a Mercedes.
Mr. Mumble dipped deep into his thespian training, as predicted, and unleashed a tirade.
Mr. Mumble: “How about this, asshole: next time don’t put this f#cking retard on the phones so I don’t have to sit here and tell all of you how to do your god-damned jobs!”
I watched Colossal Redneck try so, so hard not to smile.
CR: “I’m real sorry, sir, but that’s the line right there. I know yer upset, but y’all can’t be cussin’ at my guys, not in here. I’mma have’ta ask ya’ to leave.”
Colossal Redneck held his hand in the direction of the door. Mr. Mumble raised his index finger and put it in Colossal Redneck’s face as if he had something to say, but then thought better of getting in the face of a 300lb meat-man and marched out to the parking lot. Colossal Redneck slammed the door behind him and then returned to my office.
CR: “Well, that’s the last we’ll be seein’ of that asshole. You don’ say a word about this to no one, ya hear?”
Just then, a noise erupted from the parking lot, loud enough that I could hear it all the way on the other side of the office.
A second later, the door opened and in marched Mr. Mumble.
CR: “Kin I help ya with somethin’?”
Mr. Mumble: “You still have my key.”
I grabbed it off my desk and slid it toward him. I was dying to flick it at his face, but it was probably best to keep our extremely thin veneer of plausible deniability intact as best as possible. He exited for real this time, accompanied by the sound of tires squealing out of the parking lot. Colossal Redneck waited a moment and then sat in the chair across the desk from me. He spun my monitor around to face him and grabbed my phone and dialed.
CR: “Howdy, is this Mr. mumble? This is Colossal Redneck at Dishonest Used Car Dealership. We just wanted to see if you were going to make it in for your morning oil change.”
Colossal Redneck quickly put the phone on speaker.
Mr. Mumble: “Are you f#cking serious? F#CK YOU. I was just in your sh#t-ass shop five seconds ago and…”
Colossal Redneck hung up on him mid-rant.
”Damn, his cell phone must git bad reception. HAW HAW HAW!”
On the following Saturday, The Amazon received a phone call from someone, presumably Mr. Mumble, complaining about our terrible service, which is pretty hilarious since he was basically lodging a complaint with Satan that the fire and brimstone was a little too warm for his liking.
Apparently his complaint was rant-y enough that The Amazon just hung up on him mid-tirade. Of course, when she told us this, Colossal Redneck and I were absolutely howling, though we politely declined to explain the reason we were laughing so hard.
I hope that somewhere out there is our guy still regaling everyone he meets with the story of the one week in May when he had the worst cell phone reception in the world.