“Thank you, sir!”

I’ve been driving around, for more time than I’d like to admit, staring at a little red wrench icon on my dash begging me to get an oil change.  

Not such an overwhelming thing, right?

Wrong.  If you’re me.

I don’t know why I have such a fear of  aversion to things like oil changes, tire rotations, and things like this, but I do.  I mean, I can whip up a Thanksgiving dinner for 25, plan a wedding for 250, watch my daughter give birth to my grandchild, write a screenplay, edit a novel, run a few miles, plan and develop a beautiful garden… but an oil change?  Oh, man.

Today was the day.  And, most fortunately, I had Barry to accompany me.  But there was a little monkey wrench, so to speak, in the plan.  Jane’s car also needed an oil change, and Barry suggested (as great Dads do) that he’d take care of this for her.  This meant that I would have Barry with me, but not with me, too.  We take our cars to a place called Express Service for this particular need.  The customer stays in the car while all the stuff is being done… hence, EXPRESS SERVICE.

Problem:  I am a total idiot about what needs to be done with cars and their needs, and I know the service attendant is going to ask me questions.  Oh, man.  Questions that lend me senseless.  Now, I get it that questions about oil and tires and windshield wipers are rather innocuous, but I never know what to answer.  Oh, man.

And today, while Barry was safe and confident in Jane’s car, I bumbled like a fool when the attendant started asking questions.  (As an aside, Barry knows that I am rendered senseless in these situations, and he never fails to rescue me.  I love that guy!)

The attendant was the nicest guy imaginable.  Young.  Fresh.  Smiling.  Professional.  All that I could ask for.  Then the questions started.  Questions about mileage, tire pressure and windshield wipers. About removing my previous Express Service sticker that was mocking me from above my visor. Even that “hood release” question that brings me to tears.  

The attendant was so nice, though, that he pressed all the right buttons until my mileage showed up.  Then I timidly said the unthinkable for a woman who grew up in the midst of the Women’s Liberation Movement… “Would you mind asking my husband these questions?  He’s the guy in the Subaru wagon behind me.”

The attendant wasn’t flustered one single bit.  “Sure,” he said, and off he went to speak with Barry.  

The sweat stopped pouring from my brow.  I was safe.  

Soon the attendant and another young man were working quickly and efficiently under the hood of my car.  But what happened next was amazing.  The first attendant actually talked to me like he thought I was OK (not the fool I felt like).  He smiled and very pleasantly engaged me in conversation.  I actually admitted that I felt foolish for now knowing the answers to his initial questions.  He smiled and said that lots of people are like this.  He said, “This is what I’m here for.”

Soon, everything was complete, and the attendant was ringing me up… wonderfully friendly, perfectly efficient and, I will say, just plain lovely.  I asked his name and told him that I was going to write to Express Service and tell “whom it may concern” that this young man was such a joy to have met on this Saturday morning with such initial and unfounded fear in my heart.

He said, “Manny.  Everyone knows me as Manny.”

I said, “Do you mind if I have your last name, too?”

“Manuel Torres,” he answered, and added, “You don’t have to do that.  I just try to make it pleasant for everyone.  I enjoy it.”  Then we talked a little about where he went to school and that I had been a teacher for 30 years… small talk that meant something very, very BIG. 

Well, Manny Torres, you did make my morning.  You made very pleasant and actually enjoyable a chore that I absolutely fear.  You are a tribute to your company and a fine young man.  Your smile is endearing and contagious, and I want everybody to know this!

I will recommend the Express Service on Quaker Lane in West Warwick to everyone I know… and this is because of you.  Thank you.  Your work ethic is perfection!

“Thank you, sir!” was last modified: February 9th, 2010 by Sharon Couto
SHOWHIDE Comments (5)
  1. It’s amazing how far a little kindness and caring will go! From us to someone else, or directed AT us. I love to give grumpy people big grins. It kind of disarms them 🙂
    I am a re-formed “except for”. Just thought you should know. I don’t know that I ever voiced my “exceptions”, but I definitely thought them, and it came across in my attitude. I have a constant battle to see the glass half full, and without the grace of God in my life, I would still be one of those downers. I enjoyed catching up on your blog this morning!

  2. This is definitely the flip side of your elderly lady at the store post. This company must be giving the PR lessons. It just makes for such a nice experience for everyone. Glad you got the oil changed and had fun at the same time. Have a great weekend!

  3. Awww! Such a rare thing these days! I’m totally with you on the auto-clueness, too.

    And can I just say….I’m so happy Jane has you and Barry as her parents. 🙂

  4. Isn’t it amazing how being treated nicely makes the world a better place?

    I’m betting that Manny didn’t get his lovely demeanor from some sensitivity training. I’m betting it’s in his better nature. As you say, his work ethic is “perfection.”

    “This is what I’m here for.”
    What a concept!

  5. It’s nice to go somewhere and get such wonderful service – it can really make all the difference in the world. I would have felt just like you did having to get an oil change. I’m glad it turned out to be a positive experience!

“Thank you, sir!” was last modified: February 9th, 2010 by Sharon Couto