February 23, 2019

toyota dealership

He came back into the lobby after going out in the rain, to the garage bay, and looking at all of the recommendations listed on those papers, clutched in the oil-stained hands of the salesman.  He sat down next to his wife.

Her:  “What’d they say?”

Him:  “They’re gonna finish up on the gauge and bring it on around.”

Her:  “Did you look at the tires?”

Him:  “I looked at the tires before we even came up here.”

Her:  “Are they bad?”

Him:  “They ain’t critical.  I ain't saying they ain't getting there.  It’s getting to where we’re going to need some tires soon, but they ain’t critical yet.  They just want you to buy everything here.”

Her:  “What about the brakes?”

Him:  “When’s the last time they told us the brakes were detrimental?  What, a year ago?”

Her:  “Yeah, maybe about a year.  Are they bad?”

Him:  “And it just so happens they got a brake special.  $200.”

Her:  “$200 off?”

Him:  “No, $200 for putting them on.  I could probably just get pads put on for $50 somewhere else.”

Her:  “They ain’t bad?”

Him:  “Unless the cost of them parts went up in the last year, they ought to put them pads on for free.”

Her:  “Free.”

Him:  “You got a janitor around here cleaning the floors, making $35 or $40 an hour, and they want somebody who come in here making $15 or $20 to pay for things.  That ain’t the way it’s going to be.”

Her:  “Hmm.”

Him:  “Pretty soon we’ll all be out of a job.  It’s the government wanting to control everything.”

Her:  “You think they’re lyin’ about them tires?”

Him:  “Naw, but they’re just part of how things are goin’.  The government just wants to run us all out of business and then we’ll have to use public transportation.  They don’t want us driving around.”

Her:  “Well, you do that, then.”

He went back to thumbing through the August edition of the local Auto Trader, even though those cars were surely already sold and gone.


I am Jane Goodall when I visit the Toyota service department.  Today, I realize that this, this, is the reason I get out of bed early on these uncharacteristically productive Saturday mornings.  P.J. asks why I climb out of a warm bed at six o'clock on a day that calls for huddling down and adjusting the pillow and sleeping in.

I do it because I get here first.  Or second, or perhaps third, but early enough for this.  I don't mind playing games on my phone while I camp out with squatter's rights.  I never make an appointment.

This is my personal requirement that I gain possession of the sole two-seater sofa in the dealership lobby.  It's in a back room and it stands a fighting chance of winning the Award for Least Comfortable Sofa Ever.  They sent off for it in the waiting room lobby furniture catalog.  But it's at the far side of the room, and there's a power strip beside it for my laptop cord, and a table for my coffee and glasses.  When I want to put my feet up, I'm polite and put them on top of my jacket.  I usually put my feet up.  The sofa is mine, the feet on the jacket say.

In the first hour, the rest of the room fills with people, who sit in the equally uncomfortable chairs.  Several of them also have laptops.  Several of them cast sidelong glances my way.  The sofa is a trophy.

I am Jane Goodall and I listen to the older woman who arrived just after I did and sat on the opposite side of the room.  She talked to the middle-aged woman who sat down across from her for nearly two hours.  They talked about school and master's degrees and nursing.  The woman's car was finished and she smiled and left.  Now, a tall, younger guy in a ball cap and glasses has taken that seat, and the older woman starts talking to him.  "You brought your computer.  Are you in school?  I have two master's degrees," she begins.  He casts a sidelong glance at me and the sofa and sees that I'm watching him.  I smile in sympathy.

I am Jane Goodall and I simply must remember to bring a tiny, network-able camera to place in the fake ficus tree next time I am here.  There will be a delicate social game played among the ten or twelve people who will remain when I walk out, and I want to see how they work out who gets to occupy the sofa.  It's a doctorate-level sociology experiment, forces in play like electrons in a complex molecule.  I hope it's the young guy with the laptop.  The older woman is talking about her edema now.


  1. That does it. I'm quitting everything to be a janitor.

    1. Right? It was a scary little window into what's being spoon-fed out there.