Sinking

Thursday morning in the cold sleet, I got my first slap in the face and knock upside the head about how bad our economy really is.

A few months ago my [husband’s] Outback started leaking oil. I had it changed the weekend before my trip to Mississippi and the baby shower for Jillie and Hardy. It still leaked, and furthermore, it used oil during my seven-hour drive. I had to go to Wal-mart (God help me!) and buy oil before I could drive home. Time for service.

I piddled around, not wanting to deal with this, not wanting to spend this m0ney, not having the TIME to deal with this, but finally made the call to the service rep at the new Subaru place in Cool Springs that has serviced both of my Subarus during the past two years. He passed me on to someone else to arrange the exact appointment and a rental. (This is the first time I haven’t had a husband to go with me in a separate car, to talk shop with the mechanic, and then to take me home or to work.)

I was set to be there at 7:00 AM and so was the rental so I could get to work on time. At precisely 6:45, with sleet slamming against my windshield, I drove up to the service door at the Subaru place in the giant car complex on Comtide Drive in Cool Springs — audacious upscale showrooms for Subaru, Infinity, Mazda, Nissan, and others. It was dark. Not a soul there. No employees. No customers. A 1950’s green and white truck sitting in the bay. I swallowed hard. My cheek muscles tightened. The sign beside the door said “M – F 7:00 – 5:00.” Okay, where is everybody? It wasn’t like the Saturday mornings I’d been to Moody’s Tires — arriving at 6:30 AM to a waiting room full of people reading newspapers and drinking coffee while their cars were being worked on.

At precisely 7:01, I called and told the woman who answered the phone that there wasn’t a soul at the Subaru place. Silence. Then she said, “Subaru’s closed. You need to drive across the street to Mazda.”

Damn.

I drove across the street to Mazda. The guy I had made arrangements with was there waiting for me and let me drive my car inside. I was the only one there. I thought of earlier days in downtown Nashville at Jim Reed with two or three lanes of cars backed up out onto the busy street of people waiting to leave their cars for service. I swallowed hard again.

“Nobody told me Subaru had closed,” I said. They had told me they weren’t doing warranty work. “What happened?”

“The economy killed it.”

Apparently, my Subaru rep has moved over to Infinity and all Subaru work is being done at Mazda where they have a really good Subaru technician and all warranty work is being done at Darrell Waltrip, who is now selling Subarus, or at Jim Reed. I am so out of the loop.

My heart pounded, and I bit my lower lip. Did I want to leave my precious car here? I walked over to the bay area and there were five or six other cars waiting to be fixed. The technician already had my car on the lift and was checking it out. Workers began to arrive and another woman drove her Mazda in for service. I started to feel better. Maybe it would all be okay, and maybe I will be bringing my Subarus to Mazda and their good Subaru mechanic in the future.

Mazda is only selling one or two cars a month. They have to sell 15 to stay open.

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