Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Sociology 101 In Which Mrs. Linklater Learns a Thing or Two

From time to time I make bold sweeping statements based on specious or spurious thinking.  One is slightly different than the other; I can never remember which is which because they are spelled too much alike.  At other times I make opinionated comments that are just plain wrong. Annoying. Stupid. Take your pick. This entry is no exception.

The upshot of my diva moment yesterday is that I headed for the business that pissed me off still pretty annoyed, but, as it turned out, I didn't have the confrontation I planned on when I got there.  Nobody's head rolled. 

After my previous post, many of you may have assumed that I would be heading to the place loaded for bear [a term I use without fully understanding its meaning].  Frankly, when I got there, enough time had passed that I decided just to let things go, unless somebody got smarty pants with me. People over sixty sometimes forget what they were mad about if too much times passes. That may have been part of it.

In the interest of full disclosure about the "business" I called up [see previous post] let's just say it rhymes with "SEARS." 

After a couple of failed attempts, I was finally getting new front and rear brakes at the Auto Center.  I was tired of downshifting to slow the car and coasting to a stop with my feet dragging. Bloody toes look so unattractive in sandals.

When I had called the "business" earlier in the day, I just wanted to know how late they would be open and whether or not I could wait while the work got done.

Sears is usually open until nine and most times they will finish while you wait, two important considerations for me. That was the information I was after before I got all hot and bothered by getting put on hold.

Like I said, driving over to the mall on a lovely evening with the sun roof open, all the steam slowly leaked out of my boiler.

I pulled into a bay and a very nice guy stopped what he was doing, told me to leave the car with the keys in it and go see another guy at the front desk to get a work order.

Here began a lesson in stereotyping. I was still prepared to have a toe to toe with the poopy pants who dissed me if he started up again.

Originally I figured I was going up against a Latino, based on the voice I heard on the phone. As you will see, I may need a crash course in diversity by the time this is all over.

Instead of one snarly Latino guy there were four Indian/Pakistani folks at the counter answering the phone and handling all the requests for service.  "Jello!"  "Jello!"  "Jello!"  "Jello!"

Apparently I couldn't tell a Latino from a Pakstani/Indian person on the phone. For sure, I wasn't going to be able to tell which one of these four had left me on hold listening to Yanni this afternoon. 

"May I yelp you?" The head guy came over to where I was standing. I can't type accents very well, but he sounded like one of my brothers when he leaves me a message from Abu the cabdriver. That was a little disconcerting. [Some day I will get to hear how minorities imitate white people. Maybe on my way to Hell. Actually, Jamie Foxx and Eddie Murray can do an east coast Causasian country club snotnose pretty well.]

The head tech from Indian/Pakistan was very polite and solitious. While I waited, he encouraged me to partake of the extensive repast found in the two large and well stocked vending machines positioned right next to the large Sony television. They were across from a number of comfortable chairs, where I could spend the evening watching re-runs of Seinfeld and The Simpsons, eating Cheetos and drinking Pepsi.

As I watched my car rising on the hydraulic lift, I noticed that all the mechanics in this Sears Auto Center were black. There were seven of them.

Let's see, all the guys at the desk were from Pakistan or India.  All the guys fixing the cars were African American.  Is this a reflection of the paradigm shift in social dynamics among working people? 

Where were the fat white guys with tattoos I was used to at the places I usually went? The ones missing a few teeth with really oily hands who hadn't read anything but the men's room sign since getting kicked out of school. Then I remembered the guy who usually works on my car is Korean, the honorable Mr. Moon who bows when he hands me my bill.  Wait a minute, I thought all Koreans owned 7-11s. 

What next? At some point the waiting room was empty except for the person waiting for her brakes to be finished. I was reading a magazine. The TV was just white noise in the background. The next thing I know the superviser from the front desk came in and changed the channel.  To a PBS episode of NOVA on String Theory.  We began talking about womenin science, the Fermilab acclerator, and quantum theory.  Every time he spoke, I kept hearing my brother's voice doing Abu the cabdriver.

Fascinated by his sing song speech, I let him do all the talking.  I was just listening. Then the guy who wrote up my work order came in and began watching the program with us.

The two of them, wearing their crisp, navy blue uniforms with the Auto Center logos began to explain things for me. Two Pakistani or Indian guys who work in the automotive department at Sears were breaking down String Theory into its component parts.  They discussed gravitrons and how the line is being blurred between science and philosophy. They were also talking about a lot of stuff I just didn't understand, frankly.

I mentioned that they might be the two most overeducated guys selling new tires and batteries.  They just looked at each other and laughed.  All Indians and Pakistanis are educated I began to think. Ooops there I go again creating yet another stereotype.

Then, in an attempt to put the shoe on the other foot, I got to thinking they might be looking at me and wondering if I had cats.

The good news is that they gave me an extra discount on the brake service.


elleme2 said...

Alls Well That Ends Well

screaminremo303 said...

String theory? Gravitrons?? I think your brake pads were installed by a sleeper cell of Pakistani nuclear scientists working in the shadow of the Sear's Tower. I'd call the Secret Service for you, except I know the verbiage of this comment should enough to alert them, thanks to electronic monitoring.

You are welcome. I'm all about the giving.

mombzbe said...

Science, philosophy, new tires, and Cheetos?
Sounds like a good time to me. :p

ber144 said...

Item #34 on the list of 1000 reasons why I thank God I left retail management: trying to get associates to realize that if you treat a customer like, oh, let's say, a person, you might actually find the service experience enjoyable.  I still have dents in my forehead from trying to explain this simple concept over and over and over and over again.  

Kudos to you for keeping a level head.  While it didn't stop me from going fetal from remembrance, it was a great read.

swibirun said...

String theory.....heck most americans only know sting cheese and silly string.

Remo's comment was hilarious too.  You two should write a book together.


suzypwr said...

I would have been sitting outside, some place away from the noise of the annoying TV - and would have missed the whole thing!


psychfun said...

Very interesting on many levels! My guess is those old big belly tatoo guys are too old now & the next generation isn't into that so much. You know that whole wave of Jane Fonda came through. I think I'd rather have these guys working on my car than the old ones.  Isn't America great with all its diversity! I know sometimes it causes problems but it can be so much fun at times too.

Hey speaking of String Cheese & String Theory reminds me of that goofy movie MouseHunt with Nathan Lane. Has anyone seen that. HA!