Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Crash, bang boom.... the things we endure for our customers

A woefully long tale of car bash-ups, patience, and the things we do to earn our customer's appreciation. The crafty life is not without risks,... y'all.

Happy January and a very crafty New Year! My brain knows that it's 2008, though my hand cannot seem to write this date.
I read recently that the year 2008 is supposed to be a very good year according to the Chinese New Year, which falls on February 7th. This year, 2008, eight being very important, is "Year of the Mouse." Eight is considered to be lucky and full of promise and good fortune. It's a very symmetrical number, very balanced. Balance is spoken of much throughout asian culture. You must be in balance to retain good health, prosperity and happiness. If you are out of balance in one area, the other areas will try to compensate to make up for the one imbalance, then all kinds of things can happen. If can affect your health, relationships, etc.

So, yesterday, as I was boxing up a few orders to take down to the post office, I could not shake the feeling that I should wait awhile before I went out. But I really like to ship as early as I can so people are pleasantly surprised I've exceeded their expectations. Under- promise, over-deliver usually works for me.

Do you all ever get these weird unexplainable feelings or premonitions? Being a Piscean, perhaps explains much I suppose. We get them all the time. When Pisces says, don't board that plane or invest in that stock, you should listen! And sometimes, we Pisceans should listen to our own excellent instincts. Still, I wanted to get all my errands done so I could get back to the desk and produce! My work agenda is making my desk shrink.

I've been told by those that love me that patience is not my strong suit. As I'm pretty easy going, I've always considered myself a fairly patient person. I am not always patient with myself. And with the exception of the mean spirited, I've always considered myself to be fairly patient with others. So though I don't really believe in New Year's resolutions, I decided patience is a virtue I could learn to cultivate this year.

The other evening as I was frantically trying to accomplish 14 things at once, an e-mail popped into my box. It was from a lovely site asking you to pop by and randomly choose a ball. When you click on that ball, a word is revealed to you. Whatever that word is, would be the one you should meditate upon. Guess what my random ball revealed as my meditative word?


Yesterday, after running to the bank, I swung by our old Post Office on 4th street, and was in luck to find an awesome spot in front. I did a neat parallel park (I am very proud of my parallel parking skills if I do say so myself). I locked the doors, cracked the windows a bit for Georgia to have some fresh air, and dashed inside with my packages ready to ship.

A few minutes later, as I descended the steps of the post office on the way to the car, I was flagged down by a woman as I was opening the passenger side front door to put my bag and planner inside.

"Miss!" Miss!!" she hollered. She was double parked in middle of the street and looking really sheepish and not meeting my eyes as she made her way in my direction. I was surprised to find myself feeling vaguely annoyed with her summons, and I wondered with an odd sense of dread if she was even talking to me. I turned around to see if she could be possibly trying to summon somebody behind me. Whatever she wanted, it felt like bad news in polyester walking my way.

"Are you talking to me?" I finally asked her feeling, yes, I admit a bit impatient.

"Yes! I ran into your car!" she said somewhat out of breath as she reached my side, and with an expression I could not read in her eyes.

I was stunned. I almost didn't believe her. I didn't want to believe her. I was only in the post office a few minutes. Suddenly, I saw my whole day flash before my eyes. There would be insurance exchanges, endless phone calls, repair quotes. Just like in those old Bug's Bunny cartoons, I felt like steam was about to pour out of my ears. My productive Monday, gone. My disbelief turned back to my original and unexplained annoyance with this woman.

NO. This couldn't be happening.

I ran around to the driver's side and sure enough a large, sizeable dent. It buckled the door and I was worried the hinge was damaged and I might not be able to open the door. Then I remembered Georgia had been waiting for me in the car. I looked for our very hard to miss Great Dane, who usually manages to get her extra-large body in the front seat when she's waiting for me. At heart, Georgia wants to be the driver. She's an Aries, you know.

"But you're okay," she said insistently, matter of factly cutting in on my thoughts.

"Well, I should hope so, I wasn't the one in the car." I said a little miffed. I opened the door, (at least it still opened and checked out Georgia, she seemed shaken, a bit wary which is not like her at all, but in one piece.

Looking at the car, how in the heck did this lady manage to do this? Some mighty uh, creative parallel parking? A depth perception problem? Jeesh.

Then the lady, whom I shall refer to as "Mrs. Raviolis" because her name is so similiar to this spelling and pronunciation, apologized and said she wanted to take care of everything." "I want to do this "the right way," she said firmly.

Of course, I couldn't have agreed more.

I still didn't understand Mrs. Ravioli's explanation as to how she could have done the damage in the first place. And so forcibly. Accidents do happen, and sometimes to the best drivers with the best intentions. However, if she was parallel parking, wouldn't she have clipped a bumper instead of the entire door? It was a little fishy.

"I thought there was a space, and then I realized there wasn't .... she trailed off then waved her hand, as if by way of explanation. "Oh, I could just curse in Italian right now," she said shaking her head dramatically.

I'm usually the emotional one, but I remained very unmoved by Mrs. Ravioli's display of emotion.

Then she turned to me and looked me over. Sometimes when I'm very upset I get very quiet. "The quiet before the storm" as Himself likes to say. This was a quiet time as I was trying digest what she was telling me, and kicking myself for not having my cell phone on me for once. The day somebody rams my car, I leave my cell phone at home. Yep. I should have listened to my instincts about leaving later. I wondered if I should call the Petaluma police to get a record of the damage she had done.

"Well, at least your taking this very well," she said suddenly, shrewdly appraising me. "I'm glad you're not too upset. I just... I just don't want to get sued!"

That, my friends is when I felt like some mighty colorful language could bubble up from my tongue.

Sued? This woman with the depth perception of a bat and apparently the most curious parallel parking skills on the Western Hemisphere, missing her mark by about eleven feet, was worried she would get sued? By me? Did I look like the litigious type? I knew I didn't, but it made me wonder if the woman was hiding something, or not telling me all the details. Had she been drinking? Was she on medication that prohibited driving?

Word of advice to those who collide with others, never mention the possibility of being sued. You are as much as accusing the person you ran into that you think they will sue you. Not the best way to get things handled. Talk about adding insult to injury.

I stared at her long coral-painted fingernails with sparkly bits embedded into the ends and finally spoke. "Nobody wants to get sued, I said, but I want this taken care of. My day is already shot, I want to make sure my dog is okay. Now, I'm going to have to go home and call my insurance company - immediately. Now let's get this handled shall we?"

I think she could hear the sudden ice in my voice, because Mrs. Raviolis quickly whipped herself into action, and asked me what I needed from her.

What did I need? My brain was suddenly confused. Insurance policy, phone number.... license plate... what else? This doesn't happen to me everyday, ya know, so suddenly the details of what I needed to do were a bit foggy. Was I protecting myself enough by getting all the necessary info from this woman.

"Now, you call my insurance agent at AllState." she said.

Why would I call her insurance agent? Good lord. My insurance agent would handle all that. I would only need to talk with her agent in the need of a statement.

We walked over and examined her car, which had a minor paint scrape on the back right bumper. No dents. She whipped out her cell phone and began taking photos of her car and mine. I kicked myself once again for not having my cell phone on me.

"Not too bad, she said, maybe about 300 dollars?" she asked me.

How in the heck would I know? I don't exactly look like your average body and fender kind of gal. Not by a long shot. But I did know, possibly the entire door would need replacing judging by the dent and the buckle in the support areas. Three hundred dollars might cover the paint job, if she was lucky. And we all know about the price of labor. Ack!

Later, safely at home, I phoned my agent. She got it handled so smoothly. It took minutes, and she waived my deductible and gave me a o% fault, as she rightly should. Then she set up my rental car. God bless Triple A and their personable and professional folks.

I went to get estimates for the repair work, which is considerably more as I predicted. Mrs. Ravioli's estimate was way under the ball park.

I'm bummed. I will miss my old reliable "Georgia mobile," as we call it while it's in the shop getting it's injuries repaired. It's been reliable for an American made jalopy. I've dodged two tornados in Georgia with it, out-ran a fierce rain and lightening storm in Wyoming. I bought it in Georgia, and it's been across the country with me. Best of all, it's paid for and it's never let me down. One of these days, I will have to replace this jalopy. That will be a sad day. It doesn't deserve to have it's doors crashed into to by Mrs. Ravioli's new black and shiny SUV. I will drive this thing until the wheels fall off if it keeps running this strong. Though, Himself has been investigating a hybrid due out next spring that gets 300 mpg. Wish somebody would have invented this car years ago.

We hope to get the Georgia mobile back as good as new. If not, you'll hear about it from Mrs. Aronson, loud and clear.

On that note, anyone have some particularly good luck with auto body repair shops here in Petaluma? Any referrals? Or any suggestions as to ones we should steer clear of? I think we've made our choice, but I like to get as many referrals as possible.

Poor Mrs. Raviolis. I'm sure she didn't intend to crunch my car, or try to maim my dog, and it probably ruined her day too. And I suppose, as I was not in the car when she mangled it, I should count myself lucky she didn't pull a hit and run.

Then again, the post office is mighty busy. Somebody would have certainly witnessed her collision with my car. In fact, there was a woman parked in back of me watching the whole scene. So, she might have witnessed it. Not that Mrs. Raviolis necessarily has the character of a "hit and run" type, but as a body repair estimator said, "We see it all the time, people saying they will take responsibility for their actions, then they don't."

Look on the bright side, I only went to the Post Office at that particular time because I wanted to be sure to get my packages shipped early to my customers. What I won't do, for you my wonderful customers. Sighh. :)

So, January has arrived with a bang weather-wise with all of these storms knocking out our hot water heater and knocking out power to over a million people in NoCal. The old jalopy, (who's birthday is in January, btw), got a bit of a crash-bang up too.

But hey, I'm sure my customers received their packages in a timely manner.

Which is a good subject for another blog, what won't you do to please customers? What will you endure and where are the limits? For me , it a lack of ethics and rudeness. I know some people will put up with this for a very well-paying client. I will not. We have our limits.

Happy New Year, and happy birthday to all my fabulous "Cappies" out there!

1 comment:

Siren Suds said...

Should we at thte PCM make Ms.Raviolis pay protection insurance?
Man, all in a day's work. I am an adequate parallel parker, but I know i've never taken out anybodys door!

Hope Georgia didn't suffer in the Kaboom crash!