Gone are the days when I could get Joice to take the car to the Toyota shop for servicing. I’m now retired and it is my turn, or turns, rather. We now live in Waco, so I have come to the Toyota dealer and am in the waiting lounge.

I received a notice from Toyota that, because of my VIN identification number (that long series of numbers and letters that is affixed to your dash and best viewed from outside and standing on your head), I now needed an oil consumption test. However, it turns out that my VIN on the car does not match the one on the letter. There has been some kind of mistake and our more recent vintage car does not require the oil consumption test. But they will change the oil and rotate the tires and perhaps find other things to do. Toyota obviously knows what car we now own as well as the VIN of the last one we owned.

In the meantime I will enjoy some free coffee and a donut—I have one every 6 months when I come to have the car serviced. I come on a Wednesday because they (my informants) tell me that is is the least crowed day. It looks like they are correct—right now there is only one man in the room, although there is a seating capacity of 14 people: chairs and a couch that can hold three big people and two small elevated round tables like the one where I am sitting.

Another person just came in: a woman in her 60s in a multi-colored sweater, reminding me of the story of Joseph and his brothers—he, too, had a bright, multi-colored robe and he got thrown in a pit because of it. The woman tries to engage the man in conversation but his i-phone wins out and the verbal communication stalls. i-phones always trump live interaction.

I should have brought my i-pad because Jeff Hunter Toyota allows wi-fi and the password is “happycarstore”.

A third customer arrives and heads for the coffee and donuts. She puts a lot of sugar in her cup; then a man in a red shirt comes in. His shirt covers, but does not mask, a large stomach. He uses a sugar substitute for his coffee and avoids the donuts. He wears his pants well below the gut, about a 34 inch waist at that point but if he were to raise them to his belly button, he would need about an 80 inch waist size. He leaves quickly—I think he works here.

I look around more carefully and notice a sign that says: “No running; No pushing; No shoving: Not responsible for personal items; adult supervision required.” It implies that havoc has been reeked by juveniles, who sometimes steal.

The place is filling up—three more people have just arrived. The donuts and coffee are getting low. The man’s t-shirt says “University of Phoenix”, so he must have either visited a Thrift shop to buy the shirt or he actually does on-line studies at the University. I doubt the latter because he doesn’t even have an i-phone.

Two other people do and are completely absorbed and indifferent to the sign that says “It’s a selfie for someone ese-ie. Just type in the hash tag #selflessie and post yourself on Instagram and Toyota will donate $50 to the Boys and Girls Clubs of America”. Of course Toyota and the world will also have your picture now.

The small coffee table in front of the couch has some magazines on it. I wander over and notice they include Toyota Today, Bosque Living and an old Saturday Evening Post. None has been touched, as far as I can tell, except the old Post.

The TV is on but no one is watching. We have all opted to wait for the check-in woman to check us out. Their attire is red shirts and blue pants, the sales men are blue shirts and black pants. Life has become very color coded. Joseph would fit in here.

I’m the first notified to follow the check-in and check-out woman to the payment window. I am handed a sheet of my maintenance record and costs, and a cheerful woman shows me where to sign and gives me the keys to my car.

I’m done, but I can’t find my car. There are Toyotas parked all over the place and mine is the same color as about 90% of them. I’m tempted to go ask where my car is but embarrassed to do so. I wander around and examine about 10 cars before spotting the distinctive PNG flag decal we have on the back bumper. Actually Toyota cars like ours don’t have back bumpers. If you dent that area they have to replace about half of the car body.

I could have gotten a shuttle ride home and not waited. A sign on the wall reports the hours of shuttle rides and at one stage a cheerful man stuck his head in and asked if anyone wanted a shuttle. The reluctant conversation man—one of the i-pad owners—decided to take the shuttle. The driver wished us a happy day “as soon as you get out of here” he added.

I called my wife and told her I was on my way home. She said she is glad I am retired and can now take the car for maintenance. That is probably best—she shouldn’t be eating donuts anyway.

March 2016