Lee Pitts: As I recall
“What are you in for?” asked the cold-looking culprit, as if this was my first day in prison and he was to be my new best friend: my cell mate. But we weren’t in jail, we were in the lobby of the dealership where we buy our cars. My new friend was a salesman who was hiding, ready to pounce like a mountain lion on any poor unsuspecting soul who dared set foot in the jungle of the car lot. Like a hawk, he was looking out the huge plate glass window to spot his prey who had unknowingly ventured into no-man’s land. He was ready to bolt out the door and be all over any prospective buyer like brown gravy on mashed potatoes.
“I received another notice in the mail,” I said, “that there’s another recall to fix something on my car. Hey, you look familiar, I know you, you’re the guy who sold me my multi-recalled car!”
“We only issue the recalls for your own safety,” the salesman meekly said.
“Maybe so, but I hardly see how I was in any danger from a rear windshield wiper.”
“We sent out that recall because the heater that warms the water for your windshield wipers in freezing weather may get hot.”
“Isn’t that the point?” I asked. “And I hardly feel like I was in much danger of having a horrendous wreck because I never used that particular feature anyway. In fact, I never knew the car had that option.”
As the day dragged on I engaged the salesman in chit-chat because about the only thing I hate worse than going to the dentist is waiting for my car to be fixed, especially in a lobby where the only reading material was Vogue and a Pottery Barn catalog that some other poor sap of the recall class left behind.
No wonder there were no tip jars in this place.
I was in familiar territory, though, having been here three times before for my fairly new car. The first offense the recall police flagged me for was for a defect in my heated seat, which was another feature I didn’t know I possessed, except when I ate extremely spicy foods, of course. The other time was for a defective sensor that read my cabin temperature, which posed as much danger to my person as a good steak and a glass of wine. These government-mandated recalls get a little old after awhile and I guess the car salesman sensed my disgust as I was looking fondly at the old photographs of horses and carriages on the walls.
“If you think you have problems now,” said the salesman, “can you imagine all the things the bureaucrats would have made us recall back then? Commerce would have come to a standstill as they could have issued recalls for uneven tread wear on horseshoes, loose rivets on harnesses or manure stains on the leather. Back then you’d have received a telegram that read, “The emission control system on your 1878 model horse may run a little rich when filled with high octane alfalfa. This could result in the driver getting exhaust all over his church clothes. Please bring in your horse so that the proper adjustments can be made.”
“Or,” I suggested… “WARNING!!! Dear Sir or Madam, it has come to our attention that the horse our salesman sold you may have a screw loose, and this coupled with the fact that your horse may not have had all the training our salesman indicated, could result in your engine running away from you. Please be advised that should this happen, and you did not respond to our recall notice, your loss will not be covered by our extensive three-day or 3-mile guarantee.”
“In the old days,” the used car salesman said, “the government’s recall police would have had a field day as horse traders back then had a reputation for saying almost anything to get you to buy a horse.”
Hmmm. Sounds like someone else I know.
Finally my car was ready and on my way home I decided to check out the rear windshield wiper so I turned it on. Almost immediately my seat started warming up. F
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