Bent Words

Bent Words

June 21, 2008

I can usually see it coming. There are telltale signs. I know when a customer is about to piss me off.

They walk briskly rather than leisurely through door and their upper bodies are bent forward as though they are fighting an invisible headwind full of frustration. They pause to say hello to no one, making a beeline for the counter, their fingers fresh with HP4 oil and an invoice. Someone sold them the wrong oil filter and, of course, they did not notice the folly until they were in the midst of an oil change.

“I just don’t understand how you could have made such a mistake. You’re supposed to be the ‘experts.’ You’re supposed to make this easy for me so I don’t have to be spending my entire Saturday morning hunting for the correct oil filter for my Quad Monster ATV.”

I blink.

“Your Quad Monster, Sir? Ummm, do you mean Quad Master.”

“Whatever. Yeah, yeah. Quad Master.”

“Okay, well, let’s get you the correct filter – what’s the cc size and model year of your ATV?”

He blinks.

“I think it’s a 550.”

“Suzuki never made a 550,” I tell him.

“What did they make?”

“Um, for Quad Masters, I only know of 300 and 500ccs.”

“It’s a 500.”

Of course it is.

“And the year?” I ask.

“1993 or 1995.”

“They didn’t make a 500cc in 1993 or 1995 – just 300s.”

“Well why didn’t you tell me that before?”

Because I wasn’t expecting you to be stupid, Sir.

“Well, Sir, I don’t know what you have. Perhaps if you brought the unit here, we could help you out with this one.”

“I don’t have a trailer.”

Or a working brain cell, apparently.

“If you can get me the VIN – ”

“Never mind. I’ll just go somewhere else. You obviously don’t know what you’re doing.”


He throws his oil-stained hands into the air and turns to leave, grumbling about my incompetence, and finally storms away. I stand silently behind the counter trying to figure out what just happened but I honestly have no answers. I just don’t get it.

I have never walked into Sears and demanded vacuum cleaner bags for my I-Don’t-Know-What-The-Hell-It-Is brand vacuum. I have never done this before because I am privy to the fact that there is more than one brand of vacuum running around in the world.

I have also never done this because I now have a bagless vacuum but that’s beside the point.

Written at 8:05 p.m.