Monday, November 10, 2008

Dealer: No Deal! (and other car games)

There are a handful of places you can’t take children for an extended period of time without being driven to drink. Airplanes, shoe stores, any restaurant with mechanical entertainment (do they sell beer at Chuck E. Cheese?). Recently, though, I discovered a new form of Purgatory.

After a weekend spent using jumper cables to get our minivan started each morning, I found myself at the local dealer where an extremely polite Customer Service Agent gently broke it to me that the DVD player was the problem…..a $450 problem. I briefly considered how many pairs of shoes I could buy instead but remembered I don’t walk in cold weather, so we still very much needed wheels. I let him fix the DVD player with high hopes the battery, which he also replaced for $300, would live to see each new tomorrow.

But alas, the new DVD player didn’t work. It kept the battery alive but didn’t actually play movies. Wouldn’t be a big deal, were it not for an impending drive across Kansas. I know, we got by just fine when we were growing up playing games like “License-Plate-Round-Up”, “Alphabet-I-Spy”, and “The-Next-Person-To-Speak-Is-Walking” (that was my dad’s favorite). I prefer to play “Put-In-A-Movie-That-Should-Keep-Them-Quiet”.

So it was back to the dealer – this time with kids – for what my CSA said would be a 20-minute job. We made it in early the next morning and crammed into the 4x8 play room, where the kids played their favorite game, “Make-Ellie-Cry”. I grabbed an issue of Glamour, hoping it would rub off on me, and we all settled in for our 20-minute stay.

Forty-five minutes, 15 “can I have a candy bar/chips/pop/gum/mints/cookies/crackers”, and one mop and bucket later (I caved on the pop – big mistake) later I consulted with my CSA, leaving the kids locked in the play area where Ellie was, indeed, crying.

“Should be any minute now,” he assured me with the kind of smile a good department store Santa gives a kid who just asked for a baby brother.

I shared the good news with Ellie and her tormenters, who celebrated with a choreographed rendition of “Baby Got Back”----opera style----while my fellow waiting room patrons, I’m certain, resisted the urge to chime in. After half an hour of musical highlights from Shrek I-III, we hustled to the parking lot for a game of Keep Away with a koosh ball Amelia had peeled off the bottom of a Lego table.

Within 90 seconds I was prying Caroline off the rear of a nearby Escalade.

My CSA appeared. “You should be up next,” he said, oblivious to the child on his $70,000 truck which, by the way, boasts a whopping 12 mpg.

We decided to cruise back inside where, for 30 minutes, my team test-parked, complete with sound effects, every car in the showroom. Ellie only cried once this time, and that was my fault for telling her we probably weren’t buying her a Yukon for her 16th birthday someday.

As a courtesy to my fellow carless patrons in the waiting room, and because I am grossly undertrained for what I’ve come to call my Day Job, I herded everyone back outside for another round of Keep Away, when my team started questioning the rules of the Waiting Game.

“Are we going to be here all day?”

“Do they have any snacks?”

“Can they change the radio station to MIX 93?”

At this point we had survived nearly two hours at the dealer with nothing but a mysteriously gooey koosh ball and $500,000 worth of inventory for entertainment without technically breaking anything.

Clearly I needed to quit while we were ahead, so I decided to check on the car again, this time with backup. I rounded up my support staff, and, like the Pied Piper, led the critters to my CSA who chirped, “I’m not sure what’s taking so long, let me check.”

He disappeared into the repair shop, where I envisioned a team of highly trained – and concerned – professionals hard at work replacing the DVD player with pit stop speed.

He returned ghost white, “Our guy is on hold with customer support right now. It could take awhile. Would you like a ride home?”

“Wouldn’t YOU like us to hitch a ride home?” I replied as the kids wrote their names in their breath on the clean storefront windows. He led me through the abandoned repair shop where I found our poor van looking like it was halfway through a C-section, its guts spilling out all over the place and the technician’s note “WTF?” stuck to the windshield. I grabbed the car seats, strapped everyone into the courtesy shuttle, and we were on our way home to torture each other in private.


“Well, it looks like the problem is your DVD screen.” He took a breath, I braced myself, “it’s gonna be another $800.”

“$800 for a screen in a car with 95,000 miles?!?” I cried foul, “Are you KIDDING ME? For $800 I could hire the cast from ‘Camp Rock’ to perform for us LIVE all the way to the Rockies and back!” I was on a roll, “In fact, I’d rather drive two straight days armed only with duct tape and Benadryl for family fun than spend another second waiting for YOU to pimp my ride!”

And then I politely told him thank you anyway for trying.

Surely we can make it without a steady stream of movies; I’m just not sure how to convince my husband to let the Jonas Brothers ride shotgun.


Adlibby said...

Oh Julie! You had me rolling on the floor laughing AGAIN! Sorry for your troubles -- but at least it made for a hilarious blog! =)


Cora said...

Oh, I've sooo been there! I've said it for years - kids should come with off-switches. It's just not fair!!

Thanks for your comment on my blog! :-)