Tuesday, April 15, 2014

How My Credit Card Put the Smile on this Man's Face

I think it was about Thursday of last week that I finally convinced myself to bring my car down to Paul's Shop to get the radiator replaced. I wasn't looking forward to it after spending the entire day there while he diagnosed it. Let me describe Paul's Shop. No waiting area and no place to sit. On top of that, Paul's a hoarder in his personal life and much spills over to his office. Junk mail from months and months ago, piled high on every surface. Dirty uniforms on every other flat surface and anything that he ever acquired packed in there as well. The outside temperature was right around 100 and no moving air inside the office and direct sunlight, outside the office

Then there's the shop with puddles of fluids on the shop floor and he and his assistant occupying every usable inch of space that is not storing things. Do not ask me about the rest room! Obviously he doesn't have air conditioning, but he does have an evaporative cooler that he was not using. At one point I scream, "Why don't you turn on the cooler at least?" "You want to wait the 30 minutes that it with takes him to turn it on for the season", was his answer? No... I guess not, was mine.

Getting back to Thursday, the weather was in the mid 80's and pleasant and I figured it's now or never, as I headed down to the bad part of town, about 33 miles away. It was about 11 AM and Paul was still not at work, although he lives on the property. His assistant/future son in law, a tall skinny kid that I thought was about 22, who is actually 28 and mumbles everything, was there ready to work. I asked if they got my radiator and his answer was "I donno". This is not pertinent to the story, but Chris, the assistant has a 2 inch growth of pubic hair attached to his face, but not as a beard, more in patches, wanting to be a beard, full of bare spots and not thick enough to be a real beard. I desperately want him to shave, but say nothing. I see a cardboard box the shape of my new radiator and once again ask if it is, but get the same answer, "I donno". When Chris speaks, he's bent over an engine compartment and his head is down and he appears to be speaking directly to the alternator, very hard to understand.

Paul comes out of his trailer, where he lives and immediately enters his office and cranks up the computer for instruction on how to install a new radiator in a Volvo. For this I'm paying $400! He goes out into the shop and he and Chris discuss how they're going to approach this job and "from the bottom" seems to be the answer, making me realize I could not do this myself. Pretty soon my car is lifted into the air with his hydraulic lift and I try to watch, but there is not room for me. I go into his office where I try to sit somewhere, but everywhere is occupied, as described. I clear off a spot and lean on a counter and wait, visiting the shop pretty often to watch the progress.

Time passed, it always does and eventually my car is being lowered to the ground and left running to test for no leaks. It seemed fine and I was anxious to leave. Time to relieve me of my money. We agreed in advance that he could accept my credit card, something new for Paul. He did tell me that they will charge him 3% for credit, but I didn't give it any thought. He presented me a bill and there it was, big as life, 3% charge of $12 for credit. This is a first and I told him it wasn't legal to charge extra for credit unless he had a banking license (I made this up, just rattling his cage). Pretty soon Chris sits down with his smart phone and looks it up and it turns out that I was correct in 40 states, but not AZ! I laughed and left, but only after Paul pulls out this gizmo from a drawer and sticks it into his phone to swipe my card. Four hours had go by and I wanted out of there! 

By the time I got into civilization, North Scottsdale, it was almost 4 PM and I hadn't eaten all day. The thought of preparing something to eat at this hungry hour did not appeal to me and I remembered a McDonalds that my grandson, Max and I had gone to before one of his hockey games, right before he threw up and decided to stop there. What were the chances that all their food was bad?

I entered and was pleased to see only a few people ahead of me but wasn't sure if they had already ordered and were just waiting for their orders or if they had not ordered yet? I asked a guy next to me who got very territorial and shouted, "I'm ahead of you"! I smiled and waited. I couldn't help but notice that the line was moving very slowly, actually not at all. Then I notice that the only girl working was probably on her first day and had to ask about everything, poor thing. Looking up on their back wall, I noticed that the menu was huge, so many things to choose from. I figured I'd be okay to just order a Big Mac, small fries and small drink. Suddenly, I was up! It was my turn. I said, I'll have a Big Mac, small fries and small drink. She yells, Harry, this guy wants a small Big Mac. Before I can say anything, Harry is on it. He explains the history of the Big Mac and how it got it's name when I interrupt him and say, I just want one with small fries and small drink. Harry says, $6.52 and once again I swipe my credit card and I'm asked to wait, but not before the new girl asks me my name. I say Mel, she says, Bill? I say, no it's Mike. (They never get Mike wrong) She writes Mike on my receipt and now I'm waiting with my three people that were ahead of me earlier. About 5 minutes goes by and she calls Mike, but I don't reply, not really being a Mike! Finally, I admit to being Mike and take my food. Not too long ago, about 55 years I think, didn't burgers used to be 15 cents? What happened? It's 2014 and I'm waiting about 20 total minutes, to eat a $6.52  burger under an assumed name! 

I already got my Coke and all I needed was a dozen or so napkins. That's the fewest you can grab from the dispenser. I look for a table and there in a back booth is a homeless kid, about 23 or so, passed out on a table. This is an affluent area, there are little children playing just feet from him in an elaborate playground and there he is snoring away. I did nothing, but unwrap my Big Mac and take a bite, finally. Only to realize my bun is stale. Complaining takes energy and I was too hungry and tired to complain, so I ate it and left. 

My car was parked right by the door and I climbed in and enjoyed "Mike's" full belly on the ride home. I pulled into my driveway and guess what! My garage door opener was GONE! How, what, why, where? Those were the things that went through my mind. How will I get into the house? Oh yeah, the keys to the front door. That's why I never leave the security latch engaged. I unlock the door without incident and go to the garage and open it from the inside and there under my car is this huge puddle of, not coolant it turns out, but power steering fluid. WTF? I pull into the garage, close the door and lay down on the couch and think, what could have happened to my garage door opener, but first a nap...

After my nap, I decide I definitely must find my garage door opener and begin looking everywhere. I even called Paul on his cell and asked and all I got was, "Nobody even got into your car", which was true. With the flashlight from my iPhone, I look under the driver's seat and sure as hell, there it is, tangled in the wires that lead to my power seat motor. In order for it to get there, it needed to jump up an inch, which is virtually impossible, yet there it was. Now I still thought the puddle was coolant at the time and perhaps according to Paul, he may have just overfilled it.

The following day, there was a huge puddle in my garage and I cleaned it up and went to pick up a prescription. On the way to the pharmacy, my car started howling like my 8th grade choir, two weeks before graduation. Again WTF? When I got home, I checked the power steering fluid and it was non-existent on the dip stick. It took almost a full quart to bring it up to full. On Monday, after not driving my car all weekend, I refilled it again and headed to Paul's to find my new problem and guess what? Only the assistant, Chris was there and he said, good news! I asked what and he told me, it was not anything that he did. That my power steering upper hose was just loose and it would be a free fix...........hooray!