Something happened yesterday that brought a smile, here’s the story:

We bought the tires for Brenda’s RAV4 at  Sam’s Club.  They consistently have the best price in the area, and I like their rotate/balance package.  You pay for it once, and it’s good for the life of the tire.  The only drawback is that their service is first-come, first-served.  No exceptions.  More than once I’ve driven to the store only to find that the wait will be longer than my plans for the day will allow.  It’s mildly frustrating, but hey, I saved quite a bit by buying them here, best not complain.

I’ve tried several times to call for an indication of how long the wait might be and have always heard “If you are at the counter I can tell you, but if you’re not at the counter, I cannot.”  Sometimes the person on the phone is apologetic, that they want to tell me but can’t.  Sometimes it seems they might be a bit put out that another customer is asking yet again. But they don’t budge.  Policy is policy.  I can’t fault them for that, it probably saves them a lot of counter discussions that begin “But you said on the phone that … ”

Yesterday was the day for rotate and balance again, and while I’d blocked out most of the day in case I needed it, that efficiency side of me tried one more time.  I called, and when the tire center rep answered I said “I’m coming in for rotate and balance today, can you give me an indication how long the wait might be so I know how much work to bring with me for the wait?  Long wait? Medium? Not too bad?”

Chung’s answer was quick and enthusiastic:  “If you are at the counter I can tell you, we can have you out of here in an hour to an hour and a half. But if you’re not at the counter, I cannot tell you.”

Did I just hear what I thought I heard?  Did he just tell me without telling me?

“Thank you!” I smiled, “I’ll be right there.”    I picked up the RAV from Brenda’s work and took it in.  Chung met me at the counter and smiled this huge smile when he recognized my voice.   I had come right in, his crew was doing well, one pair of tires to be installed ahead of me, then I was next.  We neither one said anything about his answer on the phone but I think we both knew his innovative work-around had worked.  My wait today wouldn’t be long, and that was good news.

Working away in the snack area and sipping on raspberry iced tea (love the free refills) I remembered a similar moment from my childhood.  My little sister, maybe four or five at the time,  slipped one year and told Dad  “I can’t tell you we got you some blue socks for Christmas.”
“You can’t, hmm?”  he smiled.
“Nope.”
“O-kay.”

I think he waited until after Christmas to tell anyone, but it was a cute story he’d tell once in a while. I get to tell my story the next day.

Chung was right.  His crew had me back on the move in an hour and fifteen minutes.  We even had a minute or two to talk about the fountain pen I used to sign the paperwork.  He told me he used fountain pens to sign important documents when he owned his business in Taiwan and knew from experience that fountain pens quickly become one-owner pens, writing best for just one person.  “Not good for tire shop, though,”  he smiled, “too many people. Best to use cheap pen here.”

Chung, you brightened my day yesterday.  See you again in 7500 miles.

I’m pretty sure yesterday will prove to be the exception to the rule, but I’m going to call ahead next time too. Maybe  Chung will answer the phone.

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