Coffee heat rising

The Automotive Jamboree

Dawn cracks (barely), and here we are down at Camelback Toyota, summoned hither by a recall involving nonfunctional airbags.

How could I do without this? Let me count the endless number of ways….

Appointment is 7 a.m. I pulled up to the driveway at about 6:50. There are 16 cars ahead of me – four in each lane – and I expect to be sitting here until the cows come home. And then to sit in the dealership’s waiting room until the cows go back out to pasture.

Sometimes Toyota has drivers who will take you back home. But it’s hard to see how they could manage that, with this mob in the pipeline.

This pisseth me off. The REASON you buy a Toyota instead of a Ford is not to have to deal with the recalls for shoddy construction.

When DXH and I were first married, I had a Ford FairLemon that my father had given me as a graduation gift. We lived in the apartments just to the north of this dealership, which at the time belonged to Ford. Our car was parked at this place more than it was parked in our carport space! So it was convenient that I could walk over here, since I was walking over here all the time.

* * *

And here I yam, already, waiting for a red Hyundai to come pick me up at the side door. Better than sitting in their waiting room for hours and hours, but…I sure as hell could do without it. The wait will be ample anyway, since it’s 7:30…though it must be said that the traffic is minimal for this time of day. I expect the plague is keeping people working at home.

Think o’that: coming up on high rush hour., Friday morning and there’s hardly any traffic on 16th Avenue, a main drag from north Phoenix to the central and southerly business districts. Looks like businesses are not reopening anytime soon…

Matter of fact, my son’s company announced they were not reopening their (expensive!) offices, but that henceforth employees will work from home. He’s not happy, because he would rather be in a more social setting. If it were me, I’d be beside myself with joy: work-from-home is exactly what I wangled for myself by founding ASU’s online courses in English & American Studies. Once I had all my courses online, I rarely had to trudge in to the campus. Which was just fine with me.

* * * *

And NOW here I am, ten minutes to 8:00, and parked – by golly! – in the living room. That Toyota dealership is INCREDIBLY efficient. Rolled in, handed the key over, got picked up by an uber-type jalopy, and delivered back to the house in 20 minutes.

Think o’that.

When we drove up, the garage door was hanging open. Alarming, because I don’t habitually go off and leave the door open. Nor would I have done so: there would have been no reason to walk out into the front yard through the garage as dawn cracked. So either I dorked up and left the door open all night(don’t think so! I’ve been doing laundry in the garage this a.m. and would’ve noticed if the door was hanging open) or someone has a door opener button that works on my garage opener.

So, dammit, I guess I’ll have to call the garage door guys and have them recode that thing.

Jayzus. Never a dull moment.

Well, I expected to spend the whole day sitting in Toyota’s waiting room, so…if you have to be carless in Gaza, better to be carless in your own precinct of Gaza.


My father used to use “car tune-ups” to get away from his obnoxious wife. He would tell her he was taking his aging Ford down to the dealership to be worked on – and at Ford, an all-day wait was not only likely but inevitable. But what he was doing was sitting in the parking lot smoking. And stinking up the car.

One day she remarked to me, laughing, “He thinks I don’t know he’s smoking in the car.”

I refrained from replying, “He doesn’t give a damn whether you know he’s smoking in the car.”

But the poor woman was so stupid that it was unreasonable to expect that she would figure it out.

Gawdlmighty… Other people’s lives!

Mine, too, I suppose. They certainly made their exploits part of my life.

As soon as my mother died – practically instantaneously – my father packed up the house, donated everything he didn’t absolutely need, and moved himself to what was then called Orangewood, one of the first “life-care communities” to hit Arizona. Dreary place, IMHO…but then I never cared for institutional living – three years in the dorm (plus 11 years in public schools) was as much of that as I ever want to endure . He, having gone to sea all his adult life, was well adapted to communal life. He not only didn’t seem to dislike it; if anything, he enjoyed it. Or he would’ve, if he hadn’t been snabbed by Helen.

All the widows (which meant almost all the women inmates) at Orangewood were on the hunt for men. The instant my father walked in the door, Helen went in for the kill. She grabbed that guy before he could sit down.

Within a few months, she wrangled him into proposing to her, a huge mistake on his part.  She was SUCH a nitwit. And though my father pretended to be stupid – it was part of his working-class macho pose – he was anything but.

However, whatever smarts he had went out the door after my mother died, and so he allowed himself to be maneuvered into marrying her. This was such a disaster that at one point he took to renting a room at another old-folkerie. He would tell her – yep! – that he was taking the car to be serviced, and then repair to his secret flophouse and spend the day watching TV from a Levitz recliner.

What a witch that woman was! But he refused to divorce her because…uh huh…what would everyone think?

Life: William Shakespeare couldn’t come anywhere close to making it up!

Speaking of servicing the car, I let myself be persuaded to have Camelback Toyota change the oil and rotate the tires. That was redundant, since Chuck’s successors recently did that. But offhand I couldn’t remember how long ago that was…and frankly, I wasn’t especially impressed the last couple of times I took the car to Chuck’s.

Pete took over the business, as Chuck had been grooming him to do for years. Very good. But…now that the place is his, there’ve been some changes made….

Chuck ran that shop like a small-town garage. He knew everybody and everybody knew him. If you brought your car in to be serviced early in the morning, Chuck or one of the underlings would drive you home. Later in the day, they’d come pick you up. Now you sit an hour or three in their run-down waiting room listening to the traffic roar by on 7th Street.

Also, that time a tire got a nail in it and I was running nearly flat, Chuck would NEVER have said “we don’t do tires…take it up on Camelback to Discount Tires.” They would have taken the nail out and fixed the flickin’ tire! If a new tire needed to be purchased and they didn’t have one on hand, he would have had one of the underlings go pick one up. Basically Pete just tossed me out.

Sooo….I had already pretty much decided to look elsewhere for routine car service. And this morning I believe I found the “elsewhere.”

Good old Chuck. To my mind, he defined the term “good man” — possibly even “great man.” His wife had debilitating health problems for some years toward the end of her life. He stuck with her and took care of her himself, every inch of the way. Meanwhile, hanging onto the business — kept it thriving.

At any rate… Pete lost a customer over a rusty nail. And Camelback Toyota gained a customer over a recall, a short wait and a ride home.

* * * *

A-a-n- the postscript:

The hour coming on to 3 p.m., I call Camelback Toyota to find out how (or if) they’re doing on the Venza’s airbag issue. They claim it takes 8 hours to replace the side airbags.

Uh huh. Well…izzat so?

Look up the problem on the Great Treasure Chest of Knowledge: the Internet. hmmm…

Quite possibly not so…

It appears that what’s needed is to check the wiring, which may or may not need work. This, we’re told, takes about an hour. And….yeah…judging by this PDF, replacing the side airbags (if it’s necessary, which it isn’t necessarily) could be a time suck.

Hmmm. Looks like you have to be sure they put the thing back together right…

Confirm window, mirror, speaker, and door lock operation
Confirm interior door handle opens.

Confirm initializations have been performed

Better write this stuff down and remember to check those things BEFORE leaving their lot.

It’s 3;30 in the afternoon. The car has been there since 7:30. Yep: that’s 8 hours. Sooo…where is it, fellas?


2 thoughts on “The Automotive Jamboree”

  1. Our 2018 Camry had to go in for a recall for the brake power assist.
    The service writer told us only 1 in 20 cars that they checked had the defect. But he said at least Toyota was proactive in having people come in to see if their car had the defect. He said other car companies wait until the government orders a recall.

    • That’s gratifying, for sure.

      Our experiences with Ford (especially) stood in SUCH contrast with the customer service and product quality from Toyota that we just quit buying American cars about 30 years ago. I haven’t owned anything other than Toyota, Volvo, or Mercedes since then. Dealerships for American cars may (I hope) have changed since then. But those fiascos with Ford products have stuck with me…I wouldn’t own one if you gave it to me.

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