THE DOG STORY
Eventually, after many years I just called all the stories that related to customers
explaining the problems with their cars as “dog stories.” For example, If someone
came in, and I asked the usual question, “What’s wrong with the car?” and I didn’t
get a response like, “my brake lights don’t work, the transmission doesn’t shift, my
engine seems to have developed a miss….Etc…”, but instead they started the
conversation with a somewhat unrelated saga of their latest adventures - which
somehow involved the car….Well, then that’s a dog story. Most of the time I would
half heartedly listen. I would usually straighten the desk, or scribble some notes
if there was something tangible in the midst of the never ending biography.
Oh, eventually they would get to the point. Sometimes it took a while and sometimes
I may have to scribble out a second note because the first scribble doesn’t apply
to today’s problem. That first problem happened years ago, but, they feel it’s
necessary for me to know about…EVERYTHING.
If you try to interrupt them in mid story, they’ll get off track, usually getting
upset, and this whole process takes longer than it was going to take if you would
have just shut up and wait till they’re done. Then you finally can ask questions
regarding the actual repair. Everybody does this in some form or fashion. Most of the time, you don’t even know you’re doing it. Take for example this story.
This, for the record, is the story that gave this whole thing its name. The Dog Story…..
This was one of those days, where nothing was easy. It seemed every job had some sort of hassle involved. Like, a simple oil change turns into a nightmare, because the bolt is stripped in the oil pan, or the filter was screwed so tight from the last guy that you have to punch a screw driver thru it and use it as a lever to work the filter off. Every job had to be explained in detail, with no mistakes in order to get the correct parts. It was one of those days where details mattered and the fluff wasn’t necessary. It just bogged down the daily grind and brought everything to a screeching halt. That was the kind of day I was having when this novelist showed up.
A customer came in; no previous phone call, just a walk in customer. I said “Hello, what can I do for ya today?”
He answered “Well, hello, ya sure can.”
“So what is the problem with the car?” I asked, puzzled.
Little did I know that I should sit down and wait this one out. He began his verse and chapter like this;
“Me and my dog were going to my grandmother’s funeral up north of here, she was a great lady, blue hair and all, I kind of liked her cooking, but not as much as I like my other grandmother’s, but she was always so nice to me. I was making my way to the viewing, north of here, but not too far, sure gets colder up there quicker than it does down here you know. I really hate funerals, dead people and all, I really don’t even want to go to my own, but I guess I will, since I’ll be the one in the casket you know.”
“Well, it began to rain, not hard, but pretty steady, just on and on, some people would call that a drizzle. I don’t know about that, it’s just rain to me. When I came to some railroad tracks, an old set that’s for sure. It didn’t have one of those fancy automatic gates and all. It had those railroad ‘x’ signs with the flashing lights, you know the type. Good thing they still make those; without that flashing light someone could have just zoomed across there and would have never seen a train coming. Just as I crossed the tracks my dog jumped out of the window and then the car died…………..
I was intrigued, fascinated, captivated and totally spell bound by this man’s detailed description of a day in his life. I couldn’t help but sit back for a second and take in this story, of life, weather, animals, and a car. Wow, what a story. Sounded like one of those old country songs. Having the kind of day that I was having, I took a moment and just sat there reliving his story in my head, trying to piece together my scribbled notes and see if there was anything I could use as a diagnostic start of this guy’s problem. Let’s see, hmm, he went over the railroad tracks on his way to his grandmother’s funeral in the rain when the dog jumped out the window.
With all the confusing notes I had in front of me the only thing I could think of to reply with was, “So, how’s the dog?”
He looked at me as if he was a deer staring at the headlights. “Huh, what are you talking about? I was talking about my car”, he said.
This guy looked like he had enough already, but since my day wasn’t going without complications I thought I would play along with his tale of tales. “I know that sir, I replied, I can take care of the car, no problem there, and I am sorry about your grandmother. Sure wish she could give it another try with her cooking. My one grandmother was an excellent cook. Loved to go there when I was little, and the rain, isn’t much I can do about that, a slight drizzle is great for flowers, my wife tells me that a lot. Maybe putting the window up would have kept the dog in the car, but you left me hanging here. I’m just wondering what happened to the dog? Did ya go get him? Hmm, I wonder if that’s what made the dog jumpy, you know rain and all, or maybe it was the railroad tracks. So where is the dog at now? What kind of dog is it? Have ya had it long? What’s the dogs’ name? Gosh I love dogs.”
Now it was his turn to sit back and ponder. Could it be he forgot a step, missed some important fact, did the dog really jump out of the window, was there even really a dog, did the dog have blue hair???? Was I going to miss the most thrilling moment of all time, because one bit of important information didn’t make it in the text of this story? I’m sitting there with anticipation. I could see the deer in the headlights stare has reached the crash point. He answered, “F.U.”, and walked out the door, never to be seen or heard from again.”
So, I guess I’ll never know what happened to the dog or for that matter how well the funeral went, or if it stopped raining. The car … well, I guess some other poor mechanic is going to have to listen to this entire story all over again and maybe get to the bottom of this guy’s problem. Or, should I go into more detail?