We’ve been thinking of buying a pickup. We’re always moving kids back and forth, we’re considering getting kayaks, and, besides, doesn’t everyone secretly want a pickup?
So I’ve been looking online, and by “online” I mean “lazily browsing Facebook,” where I came across something in our price range, i.e. cheap-ass and terrible. But the kayaks in back will look magnificent!
I sent the seller a message: “Is this still available?”
Some time passed. Then came the response: “Oui.”
Not exactly the hard sell. A couple of days went by as I continued my search. Eventually I wrote back: “C’est à Stanstead? On peut passer quand pour le voir?” [“It’s in Stanstead? When and where can I come by to see it?”]
I waited for the response: “Oui.”
“Ou et quand?” I asked. [“Where and when?”]
Two days went by. Two full days! And then:
“Quand tu veux.” [“Whenever you want.”]
I call this The Art of the No-Deal. If you can’t respond in a courteous, helpful way — in a way that suggests at least a glimmer of motivation to sell your product — I’m not buying. There are plenty other crap-bag trucks out there, merci beaucoup.
On Monday, I was pumping gas at our local station. They are the slowest pumps on the planet. You can actually see the decimal points ticking by. On the plus side, it gives you lots of time to judge the other customers.
On the opposite pump island (“Pump Island,” coming soon to FOX!), I noticed a guy fussing around the partially opened sunroof of his car (make and model: 4 Wheel White). A gas station clerk walked over to him carrying a metal rod with an L-shaped prong on the end. “You might need this,” she said.
The dude (make and model: 2 Leg White) proceeded to stick the rod through the sunroof, trying to squeeze his hand through the opening. Locked his keys in the car, poor dude.
I was still pumping away (“previously on ‘Pump Island’…”) but thought to myself, “Finally, the reason I was born. This is my destiny — to at last put my skinny hands and wrists to good use by sliding them through the sunroof of a stranger’s locked car.”
There was no one waiting behind me, so I walked over and said in my best French, “My hands are on a diet,” or something to that effect. “I can try.”
This was my moment!
Alas, I overestimated my skinniness. So much for destiny.
Failing to reach the lock button from the sunroof, dude decided to try a different tack and out of nowhere produced a three-foot crowbar. Protecting the frame with a cloth, he wedged the crowbar into the top of the door and wrenched it forward, leaving a crack for the rod to slide through.
Now, my French comprehension is not the best. Ideally, for me to understand, you should speak French like a 19th century Parisian nobleman. This is not the case in Quebec and certainly not the case with our dude who, though I hate to be snobbish (liar), spoke French like a white dude with a white car wearing a white shirt with the sleeves cut off.
So to me, his comments sounded a lot like (in translation),“Crunch bar mini-fridge dopamine swing hut.”
Still, we managed to work together to angle the rod towards the button, sometimes him manoeuvring it, sometimes me. “The button: do I push or pull?” I asked. (“On the next episode of ‘Pump Island,’ things take a confusing turn…”)
The clerk, who was guiding us from the passenger-side window, said, “Try now! I think you got it!” (It was me. I’m sure I got it. Hero.) Dude yanked on the door and it popped open.
I looked at the frame where the crowbar had rubbed, a few scratches on the white. “Not too much sorry?” I said in French. “BarcaLounger fruit tip,” he replied.
My French is good enough, however, to recognize the simple word “merci” or even the phrase “merci, mon chum,” but unless my assumption about my new friend was wrong and he was speaking some antiquated French like a 17th century chevalier (“Soothe! Thou art ever thus correspondent of my profoundest gratitude, my slender-handed squire!”), I did not hear a single thanks or acknowledgement as I walked back to my car and drove off.
These seemingly unconnected stories have a couple of things in common. One: courtesy takes only the smallest of efforts; and two: I am easily put out. But soon I’ll be easily put out behind the wheel of a cheap-ass, crap-bag pickup, or as we say in French, une île de la pompe.