I drove my wife's car to the dealership for inspection. The service door opened and I drove in and parked. Two men greeted me smiling. "Good morning," one said as the other took my keys and directed me to the service desk. Another guy said something to one of my guys who laughed and gave a high-five. I went to the service desk.
Four workers were each talking with a customer. A fifth said hello on his way out to the garage. "Last spot on the end, sir. I'll grab some numbers from your car and be right back." Less than a minute later he returned. A woman at the next station smiled at something another worker down the line said.
My guy told me that I didn't yet need an oil change or tire rotation. "Just the inspection today. We can have that done in no time." He was efficient, chipper, and engaging. I asked how busy the day would be seeing that all five of them were already engaged. "Not too bad," he said. "Even when it's busy that's good." Down the line a worker and customer laughed loudly. I smiled. My guy directed me to the waiting room. "I'll come get you when it's ready."
I had brought my laptop intending to write but was too distracted in the waiting room. Mercifully the television was off but there was constant movement through the waiting area. The service desk was out to the right, bathrooms to the left, coffee and the hallway to the showroom left of center, and a business office in the middle. The office was the main distraction. Someone in there seemed to have just returned from an absence.
I watched through the cashier's window and the door as it opened and closed. People smiled and laughed. The talk was light and relaxed as at a party or family gathering. I heard please, thank you, we missed you, hey did I tell you?, laughter, and the sounds of happiness, caring, camaraderie.
No wonder I couldn't focus on writing. I was too confused. I'm at a car dealership, I thought. Do people dream of doing this work? Do they feel called to it? Can they be satisfied doing it? I now hear the condescension in those questions and apologize. Blame my ignorance and confusion and know that I'm not looking down now. When my guy said the car was ready I was relieved to get away from my confusion but sad to leave a place that felt so good.
I'm on vacation from my job and absolutely dread going back. We are stretched too thin and worn out there. No one is happy and we have given up putting on brave faces. Some of us are looking for other work. It's a dark, angry place that is the primary source of my depression and declining health. It pays the bills and affords us healthcare but that's not enough. I enjoy moments on the job but far too few. The punishments outweigh the benefits. I want more. I want the car dealership.
The dealership must be run by people who get the best out of good people by giving them what they need, valuing them, and treating them with respect. What I felt and saw there doesn't happen by accident. Good families don't just happen and the dealership was clearly a good family. I'm not looking down any more. No, my neck is getting stiff from looking up at what I want and the kind of place toward which I need to move.