BONEHEAD BLUNDER: Forgetting one’s manners
THE BONEHEAD: Daughter of a good customer
BONEHEAD RATING: 5
WHAT HAPPENED: During the season, mobile marine service is a picture of uncontrolled insanity. Part of it is my own doing, as after 57 years of this, I still haven’t learned to turn my phone off Saturday and Sunday and rest my bones. Last weekend a good customer called Saturday afternoon to tell me his daughter and her (male) cousin were out in the river, having shut down the two-stroke Yamaha when a screeching started from the dashboard. He wanted to know what to do. I asked him to give them my number and I’d try to get better information so they could get home safely.
A few moments later, my phone rang, and when I answered, I could hear a male and a female arguing about what might be wrong with the engine. The female kept turning the ignition on and off, and each time the Yamaha alarm sounded. After three times of my yelling into the phone, the female redirected her attention to me. I am not sexist (well, a tad) but there is no sense trying to talk to anyone who was talking the way she was, so I introduced myself and asked to speak to the cousin. As he took the phone, she put it on “speaker” so she could add her comments. I asked him if the engine had overheated. “No.” Have you checked the oil? “What oil?” Uh-oh. The oil in the main tank under the right rear seat. “No.” Can you check it for me please? “Sir, there’s about a half inch in it.” Meanwhile, she’s yelling that’s not the problem, that the screeching is coming from the depthfinder. I asked him to take the engine cover off. He did and handed it to her. I asked him to lift the toggle switch by the tank and see if oil would transfer from the main tank to the on-engine tank. It did, and he filled it. I asked where they were. He told me, and I figured if they could keep from strangling each other and live with the alarm blaring, they could idle home in about 20 minutes. She screamed: “You bring us oil, and I mean now!”
Ma’am, this isn’t Tow BoatUS. I’m just a mechanic, and I don’t have any oil.
“My father said you’d help us! Oil will help us, and I want you here, with oil, right now!”
Maybe it was the wind that blew my fl ip-phone shut. Maybe it was my attitude that closed the phone. But that conversation was over. A few hours later, I got a nice text from the cousin saying they’d gotten back safely, thanks to me.
LESSON LEARNED: Every day comes with a new reason to raise my weekend rates. Next weekend I’m going to answer: The Motor Doctor. Give me your MasterCard or Visa number and I’ll continue this chat.