Yesterday should have been a terrible day.
Our car was making a weird vibrating noise, and I knew I’d have to take it to a mechanic. My tooth had been hurting me, and I was pretty sure it was going to have to be extracted. I made an appointment for the dentist, who is located 90 minutes away in Scarborough, Maine (yes, there are closer dentists, but I have terrible teeth and he came highly recommended; I’ve been happy with him so far). I decided that rather than go to the nearest Subaru dealer to my house, 45 minutes away, I would go to the Subaru dealer in Saco, which is closer to the dentist in Scarborough, and kill two birds with one stone. When I called the Subaru dealer, I told them that I would need some sort of loaner car because I had a dentist appointment 8 miles away.
“I’m so sorry,” the Subaru technician replied, “but all of our loaners are out. But it’s no problem – – we will take you to your dentist appointment with our shuttle driver; just call us when you’re ready to be picked up.” The shuttle driver was so nice. We spoke about those things we had in common: the secrets for a good marriage (the driver recently celebrated his 42nd anniversary), grandchildren, our dogs (both rescues), and fishing (what else do you talk about this time of year?).
Meanwhile, at the dentist, the news was not good. “Yep, it needs to be extracted,” my dentisit said, “but you will need to go to an oral surgeon for that. But I knew you were coming from very far away, so just in case, I called them this morning to see if they could fit you in today, and I made you an appointment for 2 o’clock.” I called the shuttle driver and he brought me back to the Subaru dealer. My car was in very bad shape: it needed 2 new axles, CV boots, and struts. Because we commute 600 miles each way between Maine and our home town on a frequent basis, we need our car to be in tip-top condition, so I authorized the repair. . . sigh. . . our tax refund just went out the window.
They still did not have a loaner available. “No problem,” said the shuttle driver. “I will take you wherever you need to go.” I explained that the oral surgeon’s office was located in South Portland, about 15 miles away. “No worries. We drive people up to 2 hours away all the time as part of our commitment to good service. And please make yourself comfortable while you’re waiting – – we have computers, free wifi, snacks . . . ”
A few minutes later the technician came by. “I really feel bad that our loaners are still not back. So I pulled three of our service technicians off of other cars. They now have four guys working on your car all at once, so instead of being done at 4 p.m. as originally planned, your car will be ready at 1:30. You should be able to drive your own car and make your appointment in plenty of time.”
I thanked him profusely and in fact the repaired car drove like new. I told him that in the future, despite the distance, I would return to his dealership for service. “That’s very nice of you,” he replied, “and we appreciate your loyalty. So I’m going to knock off 5% from parts and labor from today’s bill.” It was over $100 savings.
And here’s my point: in Maine, people are almost universally nice. It doesn’t matter if you are in a store, on the road, or in a line. People are incredibly considerate, friendly, polite and helpful. What should have been a very difficult day was made better simply because people were pleasant, and their positive attitude was contagious.