This was enough to launch me into high gear so I called the auto insurance company and they made an appointment for me to come back in and have them "look" at it. I was frustrated because the first time they repaired it, they also dinged the driver's side door, right above the handle. So I was less-than-thrilled to hear that they'd be taking it back to the same place.
Then I started to realize that perhaps they wouldn't even agree to fix it at all, as it has been my experience with insurance companies (namely, health insurance companies) that they will screw you over as best they can in an effort not to spend another dime on you.
When I left work early today to head to the service center, I was prepared for a battle. I had prepared myself to scream and cry as much as necessary until they agreed to do what I wanted. I decided to go into the situation knowing I was going to get upset and flustered, and just go with it.
A nice looking woman came out to look at my car. I pointed out the (obvious) flaws in the paint, as she went, "Mhmm...mhmm...yes..." The woman went to wipe off something with her hand and the paint literally flaked off on her thumb. "See!" I said. "That's what it's doing!" She said something like, "Mhmm..." and said she was going to drive it around to have the paint people look at it.
I went back inside to sit down (it was 100 degrees outside. I don't know how you guys are exercising in Iraq, but that's another story). While I was in their lobby, I noted two things:
1) Customer Service Representatives at Progressive must have a high suicide rate, as they make their employees sit in a half-moon shape in an open room, perched on little stools and "work stations" like cockatiels in a pet shop.
2) The only magazines available for reading were "Highlights" which I believe I grew out of at around age eight, even though I continued taking Highlights until I was about eleven and reading it with delight. Highlights. Need I point out the irony? This also explains why one desperate housewife had brought her copy of Hardly a Husband (I couldn't make that up). I never got her story exactly but it seemed she was there in a huff over some botched towing job they'd done and was demanding to speak with the manager. The best part was when she went to leave and left it sitting on the tabletop and I got to say, "Ma'am? You forgot your book," and hand it to her with a withering look, one part empathy and one part, "I'm sorry your blood diamond is so big and your husband is hardly a husband."
This is where it gets good. My car was pulled back into the drive and the woman summoned me to come and look at it. I felt like a criminal about to be given the guilty verdict because I knew the fact she wanted me to come look at it meant she was going to point out why they shouldn't fix it.
"So, they looked at it," she said, "and they said that yes, there are chips in the paint and yes, it's covered for us to fix it, (the old "bring 'em up and crush 'em down tactic) but you see, they said that each on has a little dot in the middle of it which means it's--"
"Do not say 'rock chips.'" I cut her off before she even had a chance.
"Yes," she nodded and smiled patronizingly. "They're rock chips."
"No," I said. "They are not. Where else on my car do you see rock chips?"
"Well, we looked at your lights and windshield --"
"My lights and windshield are GLASS. Show me any other place on my car where there are rock chips." I was doing what some people might call yelling at this point.
"Where!?!!?" Now I was kind of going ape shit, running around the hood of my car, pointing at the flawless paint all over my car except on the hood. "Where do you see chipped paint other than on the part they fixed? WHERE?"
"And did the paint not just chip off when you TOUCHED it? How is that a rock chip?!?!"
Full on rage at this point.
"I'm sorry, that's what they said it--"
"I don't give a shit. This is bull shit. This is fucking outrageous and I refuse to accept it. You're going to have to come up with something else."
Yes. I dropped the f-bomb. I not only dropped it but I basically cursed the poor woman out. She stayed surprisingly calm, no doubt it wasn't her first ride on the ferris wheel.
I had had it. I mean, what the hell. Insurance companies can kiss my ass and I'm done being nice to them in an effort to get ahead. Perhaps this was post-workman's comp rage (once you're denied workman's comp, for a work-related injury, you never, never forgive) but someone had to hear it.
She said something about going to get the "paint expert" and hustled off. I prepared myself again for battle. Suddenly I was surprised I wasn't crying and I realized that I was so outraged I didn't have time to get upset -- I was just straight up pissed off. I started talking to myself I was so mad. I even remember at one point looking up at the ceiling, assuming they had hidden cameras, and saying "I will not leave here without taking someone down with my car if they don't fix this. I'm serious. You've got it on record."
Yes, I was that mad.
Then a tall guy walked out, who I had already decided was the manager or at least the problem-solver because he was the person who talked to the desperate housewife before me. "Hi, I'm John, how are you?" He said, trying to be friendly.
"I'm Rachel, are you the paint expert?" I said this snidely because I knew he wasn't.
"No but I consider myself to know a lot about paint."
I started making my case -- pointing at the chips and even having the woman testify that she had made the paint come off just by touching it. She agreed without hesitation.
John stood up and said, "I see what you're saying. We'll take care of it."
"Well," I said, "thank you. And while we're at it, if you could have them not dent my door again because this is what they did last time." I walked to the door and John followed me hurriedly. I pointed at the dent and said, "They told me there was nothing they could do about this before."
"I'll have them fix that too."
We've discussed this before and perhaps we'll discuss it until the end of time. What is so wrong with being mean? What is so wrong with having a freak-out? As I drove away in my free rental car, a cherry-red Toyota Corolla, I realized that had I not gone postal on the woman, I would be driving away in my flawed car which over time would cost me hundreds of dollars to fix. And I would have been here tonight, bitching about the unfairness of insurance companies and writing letters to Vice Presidents of Progressive but not getting anywhere in the long run.
There is a time and a place for being mean. And that is what this blog is all about.