Thursday, March 26, 2015

Customer Service

One of the things I love about spring is the sight of all the women parading by ABC Auto Repair, where I work as the lead mechanic. Some dressed in suits, others in colorful dresses, these women park their cars in the parking ramp at the edge of town and scurry off to offices downtown,
where they work as clerks, tellers, secretaries, and executives.
During the year, many of them—especially the single ones—leave their cars at ABC for an oil change and tire rotation, or a brake job and muffler replacement.
I know many on a first name basis, but I've never hit on anyone. Still, one lady truly caught my eye this winter. A petite redhead with close-cropped curly hair and midnight-blue eyes, she's the secretary for the vice-president of our local bank: Chloe Jacobs. I'm Mike McCormick. I'd give anything to ask her out, but I don't think it'll happen.
On this cloudy, rain-threatening morning, I'm outside the shop, crouched under the hood of an old Ford Escort checking its battery, when horns blare, tires squeal, and a female screams.
I jerk up. I don't see what happened, but I've seen the scenario before. Two cars nearly collided at the busy intersection adjacent ABC—there's no streetlight. One thing is different this morning, though. Standing at the corner across from ABC is Chloe, her hands clutching either side of her head.
Thinking she's injured—she's obviously in great distress—I drop everything and dart across the street.
I'm breathless. "Are you all right?"
Now I'm really worried. "Did you get hit with flying debris or something?" I look her over. Only a touch of makeup—eye shadow, mascara, pink lip-gloss. She looks trim dressed in her dark-blue pants suit. Her flowery scent is heavenly.
But her cheeks glow red with anger.
I go, "Are you sure you're okay?"
"Stupid me—I lost my iPhone!"
"Your phone?"
"I was checking the weather. My son has a T-ball game tonight. Those two cars, the noise—startled me, and I dropped the phone. I'm so mad at myself!" Then she points at the street drain at the curb where we're standing. "It's down there."
Oh no!
On my hands and knees, head lowered, I peer through the iron grate covering the drain and spot her white iPhone, six or seven feet below me. "Good news," I say, standing up, puffing out a breath, and smiling at Chloe. "I can see it."
"I'm running late!" she blurts. "I can't be late for work. Big meeting this morning. It's going to rain. The phone will be washed away. I have everything on it—Danny's baby pictures—just everything! Not to mention what it costs."
I raise a hand to calm her down. "Look, Chloe, there's more good news. I can retrieve your phone. You hustle off to work, and when you get off this afternoon I'll have it waiting in the ABC office."
Her eyebrows jump. "You can do that? Honest?"
"Honest. No sweat." I smile at her again. "It's called customer service. It's what ABC is noted for."
I have no trouble rescuing Chloe's phone before the rains come. With a crow bar, I pop the drain cover off, and with a six-foot long mechanical claw, I reach down and grab the phone. I leave it in the office where I said I would.
All day I think about Chloe. She has a son but no ring on her finger. Perhaps she's divorced, like me, but she probably hasn’t lost confidence in herself like I have—confidence in matters dealing with the opposite sex. It's an issue I'm desperately working on.
After work, I check in the office. Chloe picked up her phone, and that night I command myself to stop thinking about her.
The next morning, I'm in the garage early. I have a transmission to pull. I'm raising the car on the hoist when Chloe appears, stepping through the side door to the office into the garage. She cradles a huge, white, flat box in her arms.
"Donuts!" she beams. "You guys at ABC provide terrific customer service."
The three other mechanics in the garage stare. Then laugh and applaud.
She hands me the box, a delicious donut smell drifting out from under the lid.
My breath catches.
Her red hair and beaming smile, those midnight-blue eyes and pink lips—the sight of Chloe Jacobs rocks my lack of confidence: "Um...if you're available, would...would you like to do something over the weekend? Um...a date."
"Thought you'd never ask," she says, and rattles off her cellphone number. "Call me." Then she digs in her purse, whips out her iPhone, holds it up, and adds brightly, "See? I still have it."