Saturday, November 24, 2012

Using My Training in 'English' To Comp Out Bills

   It takes less time to get pregnant and deliver the baby than it does for car transmissions to be rebuilt.  By the time I got my car back, my future grandkids outgrew their car seats.

   *Note: I am not talking about the eons it took for the work to be done.  I am referring to the day I picked up my vehicle.
   Peter, my short transmission man, looked up at me soulfully and apologized for the ski-season that I was car-less.  Then he handed me the bill.
   I did not sense that Peter received much training in consumer relations.  Or in women who know Tae Kwon Do.  And until I saw my bill, I had not sensed that my vocabulary contained so many alternatives for my transmission man’s first name.  Of course, I am an English teacher.
   Peter was surprised that I did not happily relinquish all of my male offspring, my diamond, and the deed to our house as a down payment on this bill.  In fact, he seemed surprised I had not anticipated the infinite range a transmission bill can encompass.
   “You must recognize,” Peter insisted, “all of the man hours it takes to rebuild a transmission.  Not to mention all the parts.  There are hundreds and thousands of parts.  There are rings, gaskets, dozens of separate clutches with their own modulating flow valves and agitation torque compressors.  There are 100 bands, 12 converters, 60 barking seals – you look pale.  Would you like a donut?”
   Peter decided it would be helpful if I were permitted to watch a broken transmission being disassembled before my eyes – that I may gaze upon ten thousand parts, smell the burnt clutches, fathom the complexity of unmodulating a single compressed torque.
   “I’ll take that donut now.”
   “Well, just a second.  Come take a look at this.  You see this smoking seal?”
   “Look, I wouldn’t recognize a drinking walrus.  I want to go home, Dick.”
   “It’s Peter.”
   “Please give me my keys and my donut.”
   “But you haven’t paid your bill and I want you to feel comfortable about the work we’ve done for you.”
   “Just so I’ll pay my bill?  Will I get my donut if I pay my bill, Richard?”
   “It’s Peter and I am shocked that you think I am interested only in your money. I want you to be happy.  We here at Speedy Shifts are committed to your happiness.  Happy customers make us happy and—”
   Peter was relentless. He got out a new Maserati gasket and held it next to a Mitsubishi O-Ring explaining how much more expensive they were than my transmission parts.
   Then he brought me invoices.  Exactly 896 of them from last week alone, for satisfied customers who understood the transmission business… enough to pay their bills without trying to die from boredom and hunger… next to a floor display of Japanese bi-valves (which looked especially delicious).
   As I licked the filling from an empty donut box, Peter was droning on about Hyperbaric Pressure and an Extended Warranty.
   Well.  I’d had enough of his linguistics.
   I tossed that box aside and met Peter’s gaze.  “Peter.  I’ll see your Hyperbaric Pressure AND the Extended Warranty and I’ll raise you TWO Hyperbole Climactic Tension Devices and an Extended METAPHOR.”
  Peter smiled.  “Who are you?”
   “Why, no one, Peter.  Just a transmission consumer.”
   “Sure you are.”  His eyes held mine for several seconds.  Then he sighed.  “Okay, Carolyn.  May I call you that?   How about we credit your account the first 500 bucks?  Call it ‘professional courtesy.’  Then I’ll take you to the International Pancake House and buy you a real breakfast.”
   “Quickly, Peter.  Hand me my keys.  I’ll road-test us there at once.”
    You gotta know how to talk to these guys.