I went to Sprawl Mart in Outer Mallgolia to resolve a tire problem. It was 9:30 a.m. as I entered the cavernous innards of the mega-store. The tire department had been open since 7 so I thought it was good timing.
A smiling, cute young woman, I know that is sexist language but she was and is cute, tried to help me. She said, "I don't know much about tires" as we trekked through the canyons of tires. She was obviously just filling in. I said, "I have a radical idea, why don't I go out to the car and copy the numbers and brand name on the tire and we can look again."
A few minutes later I re-entered and she was gone. Drat and double drat. In her place were clerks two and three, two sullen, blank-faced tire persons. They sized me up as if they were lionesses watching an approaching gazelle. No smile or greeting. During my long sojourn that day too many workers in the store were somber; trudging through the day; resigned as if the job was a jail sentence.
"Yes," one finally muttered. She gave me some options and I made my selection. She said, "Take this and your car to the bay area." No thank you. I drove the car to an empty bay and waited. A smiling man said, "She will write you up." Smiling I said, "I don't like the sound of that." Laughing, he said, "I see what you mean."
She approached me. With all of the warmth of a python swallowing a river otter she said, "Your car is too far into the garage. You are not allowed to be that far up." The front was about six to eight inches inside the line. So I grabbed the door handle to move it. With a dour face, she said, "Just remember next time." What an opening salvo across my bow. It must not have been too serious because she left the car sitting there over the next nearly three hours.
Time passed like a snail with plantar fasciitis. I sat on one of those metal benches with holes in it. My "dairy air" still bears the imprint. I read "Catfishing in Indiana," all about guns from Guns and Ammo and everything NASCAR.
I listened for my name over the PA system. I went to the desk at hour three. My paperwork was finished the car was back in the lot and no one had informed me. I was madder than a rained on rooster; madder than Rush Limbaugh when told he could not go through the buffet line a fourth time.
Clerks four and five were on duty. The bill total was different so I mentioned it. Gravel Gertie, the same one who said I was over the line, flared and snapped, "It is the same as when I gave it to you." "No, it is a bit higher." That is all I said.
I put it on my debit card with clerk five. She said nothing while looking at me. It finally dawned on her I needed my keys.
I spent over $100 and three hours in that money pit and no one said thank you or sorry it took so long. So I said loudly and sarcastically, "You are welcome" and strolled outside.
Free at last. The sweet smell of fresh air buoyed me. I long for the cordiality of the marketplace in yesteryear.
Larry grew up north of Calvertville on a farm and graduated from Worthington High School and Indiana State University. He can be reached at Goosecrick@aol.com or (317) 839-7656. He has published six books.