Please enjoy this story by my friend and high school badminton partner Nancy Allison Worley, a.k.a. Smash Allison. Nancy, formerly the fearless editor of the York High School student newspaper, now works for the University of Louisville.
Dateline: Sam Swope Honda Service Bay
My mom, a tiny but ruthless negotiator, taught me to exude confidence when dealing with auto repairmen. She claimed they could smell fear a mile away. When I was in grad school, I watched in utter awe as she haggled with a local car dealer. When he would not succumb to her steely gaze and pursed lips, she calmly asked him directions to his biggest competitor. The stare down was epic.
As we left the showroom with the key to my new car, the salesman jumped into my aged VW Bug to pull it around back. The entire running board and part of the exhaust pipe fell off in a huge rusty dust heap. Her smile at the salesman chilled me to the bone.
However, I digress.
So when I walked into the service bay, I was standing tall with my chin jutting out in a manner that bespoke no nonsense or trickeration was going to happen to my son’s car on my watch. I had my leather coat on with a skirt and a jaunty scarf accessory. Feeling good. Looking good. I couldn’t help but notice several sets of eyes following me across the room. I may be a geriatric grandma with a trick knee, but I still turn heads, I thought to myself.
We were directed by a slightly scary lady at the front desk to our assigned service adviser across the bay. Undeterred, I strode over to John’s desk with great poise and dignity, exuding a heady mix of confidence and style with an undercurrent of passable knowledge regarding new tires and alignment.
John assured us that an unaligned camber was nothing to worry about. Not to be bamboozled, I took it upon myself to surreptitiously google “camber” when John took a personal phone call.
I signed the various warranties while dropping the word “camber” as often as possible and as we turned to go, a woman decked out in all UofL gear approached me with a big smile. While I am not famous, I have been around athletic events at the Ville for more than 30 years. Many of our fans recognize me and like to ask me various insider questions. They mistakenly think that because I sit three feet away from Coach Pitino during hoops games that he might confide in me, poll me for defensive advice, give me courtside seat access or … say … know my name.
So I smile and greet her warmly, ever the ambassador for UofL.
She said, “My daughter and I just had to say something to you. We have been watching you since you came in.”
I said, ” How can I help you?”
She said, “You should know that your skirt is tucked up into your jacket in the back and your rump is hanging out in the breeze.”
My son, who has his arms crossed over his chest, as he had listened to me strategize in what I felt was a “teaching moment”, puts up one hand over his eyes and turns so red that I fear his ears will spontaneously combust. The fan jerks at my skirt and I feel it slide down into place.
Luckily, and by the grace of the Lutheran God, due to the frigid temperature, I had on black, fleece-lined tights that are completely opaque. That does not mean that my heinie wasn’t hanging out, but at least it was firmly encased in industrial grade spandex and fleece.
I screwed my courage to the sticking place and exited with as much dignity as I could, while my son wisely made no reference to the word “rump” since I was bankrolling those new tires.
I am not certain of what life lesson my son took away from this other than to deduce that auto repairmen not only smell fear but recognize whack job crazy when they see it.