The Filth and the Fury

June 6th, 2011  |  by  |  Published in Uncategorized  |  7 Comments

If you have kids, you have dirty clothes. Stains—disgusting, untraceable stains—stains that appear as if by magic, stains that appear as you watch, those ice-cream drips falling in super-slow-motion, almost as if you could stop them. Stains on their clothes, on your clothes, on stainless-steel countertops. (Whuh?) Stains from food, from dirt, from grass, from blood and shit and piss and… what made that stain? I don’t even know.

Which is why you need a washer and a dryer—they are just about essential to urban parenting.

So, guess what I don’t have right now?

It’s not that I haven’t tried to replace the Frigidaire Gallery washer-dryer we used to have, which died a little over a month ago (though not before staining several loads of laundry with rust spots). I have tried. In fact, just over a week ago I bought a new washer-dryer, a stackable Whirlpool Duet (on sale for $998!), at the nearby Lowe’s, and arranged to have it delivered and installed today. I live in a fourth-floor walkup, I told the salesgirl; would that  be a problem? Nope, she said, no worries, they deliver everywhere.

So, guess what turned out to be a problem this morning?

Look, I understand that delivery guys don’t want to haul 300-pound appliances up narrow stairways. But most of them (and the companies they work for) will do so for an extra fee. An extra fee I’m only too willing to pay—what’s another $100 or $150 on top of the $1,000+ I’m already spending?

No, what I’m pissed off about—so much that I’m wasting your time with this rant—is the incompetence of the salesgirl. She sells fucking appliances in fucking Brooklyn for a living, and she doesn’t know that 3P, the company Lowe’s contracts deliveries to, won’t carry appliances up past the 3rd floor! I mean, I can look up the fucking washer-dryer’s specs and reviews online—she doesn’t have to know anything about it whatsoever, except the price and how to get it into my goddamn apartment. That’s it! Nothing more! And she doesn’t even know that!

I’m doubly pissed, in fact, because while Lowe’s is a massive (and probably failing) corporation, with little need to treat its customers well. Ride Brooklyn, my neighborhood bike shop, is the exact opposite: a small business that needs customer loyalty. But Ride, too, has been fucking with me:

Sunday afternoon, I brought my bike in to get a blown-out tire replaced. It’ll take an hour, they told me on the phone. It’ll take an hour and 15 minutes, they told me in person. Fine, I said—and went off to do some shopping and drink a beer. Two hours later, I returned to find out they hadn’t even begun working on it. Texts started coming in from my wife (“Where are you? Baby us awake and asking fir you.” [sic]), and still I was waiting. Finally, at 5pm, three and a half hours after I brought the bike in, it was ready, presented to me with apologies, but only apologies.

Let me make this clear: I don’t care that my bike took three and a half hours to fix. If Ride had told me it would take that long, I’d’ve been happy—I could’ve gone home, had a nap, played with the kid, and returned at 5pm. Instead, the shop made me wait, and wait, and wait. If this were a one-time thing, I’d understand, but it happened not six weeks ago, too, when I bought my wife a bike: They kept promising it would be ready imminently, and we kept taking up space in their crowded premises.

I understand; they’re busy. Things come up. But they’re busy all the time, and things come up all the time. Shouldn’t they, after so many years in business and so many busy, things-coming-up days, be able to accurately predict how long a particular assembly or repair job should take? And if they can’t, maybe they should learn how?

It’s things like these that make me despair for America’s future. Are these businesses incompetent? Or just indifferent? I don’t know—I just want to ride my bike with clean underwear for once.


  1. Steve Gross says:

    June 6th, 2011at 2:53 pm(#)

    My job requires me to estimate time-of-delivery for countless tasks every day. It is very hard to estimate, and there’s enormous social pressure to tell someone a time that they want to hear. I dread having a conversation like this:

    “How long will it take to fix my bike?”
    “Maybe 4 hours.”
    “4 hours? But it’s just a tire!?!?”
    “Well, in our experience that’s how long it takes.”
    “I’ll just take my bike somewhere else!”
    “Darn. Lost a sale!”

    Basically, the short-term interest in making someone happy trumps the long-term interest in accurate estimations. My recommendation is that you structure your question differently:

    “I’ll bring my bike in at 2pm. At 3pm, I need to have my bike available so I can arrive at the UN for my testimony on war crimes prosecutions, while simultaneously performing open-heart surgery on the president. Will my bike be ready by then?”

  2. Matt says:

    June 6th, 2011at 2:55 pm(#)

    The other option is to, as Theodore just told me a few minutes ago, “to under-promise and over-deliver.” Tell me it’ll take 4 hours, then call me after 3 and a half, and I’ll be impressed. But tell me it’ll be an hour and deliver 2 hours late, and I definitely won’t be back.

    But from now on, I’ll probably adopt your strategy.

  3. jjdaddyo says:

    June 6th, 2011at 3:08 pm(#)

    It’s too bad there aren’t 6 or 7 other bike shops within 10 blocks of Bergen and Flatbush.

  4. Matt says:

    June 6th, 2011at 3:10 pm(#)

    I know! It’s too bad I’m lazy and Ride is still the closest one to me. (I live on the wrong, bike-less side of Fourth Avenue.) Will be getting a patch kit, too, though it wouldn’t have helped in this case. Tire was wrecked.

  5. dadwagon says:

    June 7th, 2011at 9:37 am(#)

    Matt–in future, please do not attribute dime-store business cliches to me, even (especially) if I use them. –Theodore.

  6. Annabelle says:

    June 7th, 2011at 1:08 pm(#)

    This is why it would be nice to live in Denmark! True, it can be daunting to know that when, say, you are invited to dinner from 6 to 9 you have to be there exactly at 6 because the hosts will be serving the meal at 6:01 and expect you to leave exactly at 9. Nevertheless, repairmen and delivery persons ALWAYS show up at the time they say they will be there–unless they call to ask ‘can they come earlier?’ In our whole year there no one was ever late and everything worked, we are totally spoiled for life back in the US.


    The Filth, the Fury, the Follow-up | DADWAGON

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