Jessie Raymond: I can’t ‘recall’ a more relaxing time

A few months ago, I got a recall notice on my car.
I handled it promptly, by throwing it in the back of a desk drawer.
Ignoring it seemed like the wisest course of action. After all, the parts in question — the rear pneumococcal joint defibrillator flanges, I believe — hadn’t technically gone bad; they had merely shown the potential to go bad.Also, I’d have to have the parts replaced at the Toyota dealership way down in Rutland, rather than at my local mechanic’s.
When the guilt set in and I eventually called to make the appointment last week, the service rep said exactly what I knew he would say:
“It should take three to four hours. Why don’t you just drop the car off in the morning and pick it up at the end of the day?”
I explained that I lived and worked in Middlebury, and that this wouldn’t be very convenient. What’s more, I’d need a second driver to follow me there in the morning and bring me back down in the afternoon.
“I understand,” he said cheerfully. “In that case, you’re more than welcome to rent a car from us for the day.”
I was not going to drive to and from Rutland twice in one day. And I was not going to pay for a rental car while getting unwanted free repairs to some non-broken parts.
Making a mental note never to open another recall notice, I went with the only remaining option: I would miss a half-day of work to sit in a grimy garage waiting room for hours, with nothing to show for it but a pair of shiny new rear pneumococcal joint defibrillator flanges — and, I suppose, the faint comfort of knowing that my back wheels would no longer be in danger of flying off without warning.
I was grouchy all week.
Friday, I had to disrupt my entire morning routine to leave the house at 6 in order to get to the dealership around 7. In retaliation, I vowed to be sullen with the service department.
When I arrived, a smiling man welcomed me inside and chatted. I responded in cold monosyllables.
After taking my keys, he showed me to the waiting room. Finding it clean and bathed in natural light, I struggled to maintain my scowl. And I couldn’t help feeling a surge of well-being when I saw a pot of freshly brewed coffee waiting on the counter.
My bad attitude slipped away altogether when, as I settled in, I found the seating to be comfortable and the coffee surprisingly good. Plus, to pass the time, I had brought along my knitting — a pair of lined mittens, because let’s face it, August won’t last forever — and my laptop.
I popped in some earbuds and started binge-watching “Time Team,” a UK documentary series where chummy British archaeologists dig trenches in people’s back gardens, sometimes unearthing bits of Tudor-era stained glass or shards of Iron Age pottery.
This was a rare chance for me to watch the show, as my family finds it painfully dull. I agree that it’s not exactly action-packed (a more thrilling episode might include the host pointing to a dark circle of dirt at the bottom of a trench and saying “Have a look, Mick’s found evidence of a Bronze Age post hole!”). But the rhythmic digging sounds settle my nerves.
So there I sat in the waiting room. My plan for the day, to seethe with prolonged resentment at having to waste all this time, had failed. Instead, I felt totally at peace.
It’s not surprising, really. I mean, if I ever got the chance to spend four hours any way I wanted, I’d choose drinking coffee and knitting while watching calming British archaeology shows. (Hey, to each his own.)
At 10:45, the friendly service guy peeked his head into the waiting room to let me know that the car was done.
“Already?” I said, clutching my knitting to my chest. “Are you sure you don’t need to put in a new transmission or something?”
He politely explained that Toyota doesn’t replace transmissions as a preventive measure. And also that if I didn’t leave pretty soon I would be escorted off the premises.
And that was that. By lunchtime, I was back at my desk in Middlebury. Life had returned to normal.
Well, one thing has changed. Every day after work now, I immediately run out to check the mail.
Man, I’d give anything for another recall notice.

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