I Never Tire of Good Service

Karen tells me I’ve been ranting a lot lately on Facebook. From crappy service/treatment at/by Lowe’s to the Boy Chancellor to the DMV, it just seems like stuff has been driving me crazy – crazier – lately.

But here’s the thing. I don’t bitch all the time.

Case in point: Tuesday.

Karen had just left the house when the phone rang a few minutes later. It was her: “The TPMS light is back on.” “Come back home, I’ll put some air in it.”

I should explain here that a couple of weeks ago the Tire Pressure Management System light had come on while we were a few miles from the house in Monroe. I checked the front driver’s side tire and sure enough it was a bit low, so I went to the gas station nearest the house and put some air in the offending tire. Checked it the next morning, and the next and a few times since and everything’s been A-OK. I’d pretty much assigned it to the inactive file of my brain filing cabinet.

Till Tuesday. She got home and we swapped cars, and I went to the gas station and measured it. It had lost a fair amount of air, so I added some and knew that I likely had a problem. That afternoon, I called the service guys at the Dale Jarrett dealership around the corner and told ’em my problem.

I’d started going to the dealership for my oil changes and other service needs a couple of years ago. It is close to Murray Manor and I like the cafe over at the Ford section of the dealership. They serve a mean country ham biscuit and have good wi-fi, which combine to take the sting out of waiting. They’re fast, they don’t up sell and I trust ’em. One day I had a lengthy repair and they took me home so I didn’t have to cool my heels there all day.

Anyway, they told me to bring it before 4 and they’d fix it that afternoon. I told ’em I was pretty sure I needed to replace the bad tire and its mate and would leave it up to them as to whether I needed to replace all four tires and that I certainly thought it was possible.

So I went down about 3:30, dreading the $325 for two tires I’d surely have to pay and the $650 that I feared it would be.

They got to it right away and five minutes later the main service comes back into the waiting room. “Mr. Murray, I can’t in good conscience tell you that you need to replace ANY tires. They’re in great shape.” “What about the leaky one?” “There’s a nail in it. We can patch it and get you out of here for $12.”

There you go. I’d given them free reign to charge me $650. They’d countered with $12.

I’ve always liked Dale Jarrett as a driver. For one thing, he’s a big Carolina fan. And he’s always seemed like a good dude, an unassuming guy it’d be fun to have a beer and watch a game with.

And while I still don’t want to buy a Ford (my Dad wouldn’t like it if I did), I’ll continue to patronize the service folks at his dealership. There are some good guys there.

So much for the raving part of today’s post. But you just knew there had to be rant, and here it comes.

Last week several North Carolina newspapers published articles about a state Department of Public Instruction report on the layoffs that have been imposed since the recession in 2008. The report was worthless, it turned out a couple days later when it was really scrutinized, because the school systems used different criteria in determining what was a layoff and what wasn’t. Two systems didn’t even answer the survey.

The original articles talked about how many fewer teachers there are this year in public schools in the state (that part isn’t debatable). And how many fewer teacher assistants. And counselors. And nurses. And social workers. And librarians. It’s an outrage, really, a stupid, shortsighted, penny-wise and pound-foolish move by the Republicans who now control the flow of tax money in the state. All to get rid of a penny of the state sales tax. I don’t know about you, but that extra penny I’ve been keeping since July 1 isn’t exactly making my pockets bulge.

But here’s the thing. The article didn’t talk about how many fewer assistant principals there are in schools this year. And I have a feeling – from the anecdotal evidence of the schools my kids go to – that there aren’t fewer assistant principals. Which is the one thing the schools could do without.

I didn’t like the assistant principals back when I was in school. And I liked them far better then than I like the ones I’ve dealt with since my kids started middle and high school.

Like the one who assured my wife that my oldest son was safe. Safe from the “death threat” issued by his 50-pound girlfriend because he had teased her.

Like the one who told me last year that kids giving an account of an “incident” involving my youngest son weren’t just saying what she wanted to hear. “I’m a trained professional, Mr. Murray. I know how to get them to tell the truth,” she said. Only she didn’t. That’s according to one of my son’s teachers, who knew of at least one lie told in the recounting of the incident. And told me about it. The same assistant principal who hung up on me when I was discussing the “incident” with her. (Full disclosure: I had Hulked up and was yelling at her.)

Like the one who refused to let my son transfer to another section of biology last spring to get away from a crappy teacher. Despite having the backing of his guidance counselor for the transfer request. Despite my taking time to attend a conference with the teacher. Who told at least three lies during her conversation with me – she didn’t know I knew what I knew, but the guidance counselor did and heard the same things I heard. The same assistant principal who wouldn’t return calls or emails requesting an explanation. He finally – at the prodding of his boss, whom I really admire – did tell me that he just didn’t want to let a student change teachers. (So why’d I go through the conference, it the transfer wasn’t going to happen regardless? All I heard was the crickets.)

Like the one who prowls the halls of my son’s middle school with a bullhorn. The better to yell at kids with.

Like the one who makes the robo-calls nearly every night from the middle school. To give such vitally important information as bluejean day Friday of last week. On consecutive nights.

And yet we keep these people when budgets get tight and cut teachers. It ain’t right.

When you get right down to it, I find them pretty – wait for it – TIRE-some.

So it goes.


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