Sunday, October 23, 2005

Five and a half hours at Firestone

Yesterday I went to Firestone to get a pair of front tires. Of course they found another problem, which led to ordering of parts, which led to much waiting. Five and a half hours' worth, to be precise. Everyone initially in the waiting area left and many came and went during my time there. But griping about that is not the purpose of this post.

I took some work with me, but not 5-1/2 hours' worth, so after a while, I had to look around for other forms of amusement. Here are my observations, for what they're worth.

1. Firestone included a Bible on its reading table. First time I'd ever seen that. Although no one opened it (in fact, people repeately moved it out of the way to get to newspapers and magazines), by hour four I was considering finding some religion.

2. I'm a "Better Homes and Gardens Special Interest Publications" addict. (These include all the many specialized decorating/gardening/remodeling mags published periodically--some quarterly, some only yearly.) I can't bring myself to throw any of these lovely, high-quality magazines away and they're taking up a LOT of room at my house. So I decided a few months ago to stop buying them, except for Decorating, unless an article or cover photo was absolutely irresistible. So far, so good. As I thumbed through through Firestone's collection of the Mama Magazine, Better Homes and Gardens, I was surprised to discover its lousy paper quality. It's printed on something not too many shades better than newsprint. Huh.

3. I learned a few surprising things about halitosis from BH&G, and it turns out I've been doing some things right. Tea contains something that tends to kill mouth bacteria, so it's a good bad breath preventative. (How about that, Alanna?) Ditto yogurt. There was a third thing, too, although I forget what it was. But I'm doing that, too. Just call me Sweet Mouth.

4. Trapped in a small place with only one unisex bathroom, I had little choice but to use the facilities provided. Lo and behold, I once again came along behind a victim of Can't Flush Syndrome. This one was male, judging by the position of the toilet seat. So not only did I have to flush his business away, I had to adjust that public toilet seat. Yes, a large wad of toilet paper was involved.

5. Among the hours (five and a half, remember) of CNN that I watched or half-watched was a hour-long show (apparently a rebroadcast) entitled CNN Presents: Voices from the Homefront. In it, John King explored a variety of attitudes about Iraq among "regular" people, many of whom have military ties: parents of the dead, parents of those currently serving, retired military. In its exploration of opinions both pro- and anti-war, the hour seemed quite -- ahem -- fair and balanced. Two things in particular stood out:

A. During that hour, three of us "waiters" watched the show from beginning to end (and a few watched some and then wandered off) and not a one made a single comment during the hour. Considering what a highly-charged issue this is, and considering what a red county I live in, I expected some noise. But no. (Earlier in the day, a group of men were blaming the Katrina victims for their predicament. Some of the "evidence" presented was the corruption of Louisiana's governor, an interesting accusation since the gentleman repeatedly referred to said corrupt governor as "he," a pronoun not usually used to describe Louisiana Governor Kathleen Blanco.)

B. Probably the real reason I'm writing this post is that in the broadcast, a retired Marine officer said: "Talk to the sergeants. I've talked to them. Talk to the majors, the lieutenant colonels, colonels. They'll tell you then, and they'll tell you now, they need more forces on the ground [...] Particularly among those who are familiar with war, there is a real, almost a loathing of the secretary of defense for the way he's prosecuted this war." (The transcript on Lexis-Nexis, from which I took this, "identifies" the speaker as "unidentified male" [as many interviewees are identified in this transcript], but I'm fairly certain these are the words of retired Marine Colonel Jim Van Riper.) I bring this up because in the early days of this blog, in comments to my post "Fight fair, children," I was taken to task for saying, "I'm [...]fairly certain that the President of the United States uses the death of 1800-plus soldiers to push his political agenda (e.g., 'We have to honor the sacrifices of the fallen by completing the mission...'), one that for absolute certain endangers our understaffed, underequipped soldiers." My commenter replied, " Our units are not 'undermanned'. That is liberal opinion, not the military's assessment." At the time I got into that little shoving match, I knew my comment was based on something beyond "liberal opinion," although at the time I was not inclined to go looking for proof. Perhaps Col. Van Riper doesn't have sufficient credibility to convince conservatives, but I, who have very close military relatives, am inclined to believe the man.

That was the heart of my Saturday. I hope yours was more fun!


Alanna said...

I never knew that about the tea! You poor thing, but at least you created a funny and entertaining column on your experience.

Alanna, who will now drink more tea than ever!

Waveflux said...

I've done hard time at Firestone myself, years ago - about five hours, if I recall correctly. It must be official policy at Firestone to make customers wait as long as possible. They charge for both time and labor, yes...?

Bitty said...

This after I specifically asked for an estimate...which was an hour and a half.

To Firestone's credit, the problem seemed to be with the parts house that was delivering the springs. However, I DID have other things to do.

"Hard time" couldn't be more apt.