Sticking Up For Myself

I generally try to be a nice fellow. I try to remember that everyone has good days and bad days and sometimes those bad days can be really sad days too. Now, I said “generally’ because I can have my moments when my tolerance level is not very high and I can come back at a perceived rude comment with a load of my own rudeness. Yet, I have tried to be less ego-involved in my old age. I try to remember everyone has their own struggles.

A few weeks ago, I had to take my 2018 Toyota Tacoma into the dealership to find out why the the check engine light was on on my dashboard. After 7 hours of my truck being in their shop, I had a conversation like this:

THEM – “You’ll need to come back in when the engine light comes on again so we can get the code.”

ME – “Why? Didn’t you get the code when I brought it in?”

THEM – “We turned it off and we need it to go on again. When it does, drive straight here and plan on not having your truck for a few days.”

ME – ” Do you know what the problem is? “

THEM – “I can’t tell you. The mechanic thinks he knows. We need the code”

ME – “Huh? You can’t tell me?”

THEM – “No. Just bring it straight back when the light comes on and plan on not having the truck back right away.”

That was about two weeks or so ago and the more I thought about THEM not telling me what THEM thought the problem might be and having the code when I first left it with THEM, the angrier I got with THEM and ME. I tried to not be a jerk of a customer and walked away feeling I was not treated correctly. I also remembered my father telling me once that people often will mistaken politeness as a weakness.

Today, a light came on the dashboard and I drove straight to the dealership loaded for bear.

(Oxford Languages

  2. fully prepared for any eventuality, especially a confrontation or challenge.”to play on the big stage that is New York, you’d better come loaded for bear”)

This time I was going to strongly advocate for myself.

THEM – nicely, “May I help you?”

ME – not nicely, “Yes, you told me to come straight in when the engine light came on again. You wouldn’t tell me why, but here I am. I would like to know what the problem is!”

THEM – calmly, “Oh, the person who helped you is out to lunch but let me look your account up.”

ME – sternly, “That would be good and what it your name?”

THEM – warmly, “My name is Sean. Let’s see, The mechanic thinks it might be a pressure issue on the 5th cylinder, but the engine code will help us.”

ME – not about to be tricked by Sean’s empathy and transparency. “Ok, I left the truck running to make sure the check engine light stayed on.”

SEAN, formerly known as THEM – “Ok, I will move the truck and we will call you right away when we find out what needs to be done.”

ME – doubling up on my personal advocacy throwing in a death stare, “I’ll be waiting to hear from you…SEAN.”

SEAN gets into my truck and says, “Oh, this is not the check engine light. It is the maintenance reminder light. Would you like me turn it off for you?”

ME – looking at the maintenance reminder light and suddenly remembering that it is not the check engine light and then remembering I am an idiot. “Yes…please…if you wouldn’t mind.”

SEAN – a tiny bit smug like he was patting a little kid’s head at Halloween, “No problem. And, just bring it right in when the check engine light comes back on.”

ME – no emotions left, “Thank you SEAN.”