"What Drives Her"
"Hello, Mr. Schmidt? This is Bella at Ravenna Volvo, our technician had a chance to take a look at your car and I have an estimate for you." I cleared my throat, still a little winded from rushing back after my lunch break. Saturdays were always insane in the service department. "Yes, we did. You have a bad coil assembly on the power steering system. Yes. The good news is that we have the part in stock and should be able to have your car finished by this evening."
He asked me a few questions which made me think that he doubted my assessment, but I couldn't take it too personally; I was just the messenger. "Mhmm... Yes, they did. Absolutely, of course," I sighed. Some men can be so predictable. "If you would like to speak to the tech yourself, I can have him get back to you. However, in that case,we may not be able to get to it today." Okay so, I played the patience card, or the lack-of-patience card. Mr. Schmidt didn't sound like the patient type. "Yes, I am certain. Of course, I understand. The repairs will be $378.47, out the door. Yes. Alright then, we will get that taken care of for you. Yes, of course. Thank you, Mr. Schmidt, we'll see you this evening."
I hung up and printed out the new service invoice, then paged the tech to come pick it up with the keys.
Another vehicle pulled in to the service entrance. It was well after two o'clock and I was pretty sure we had more work than the boys could finish today. I headed out with a clipboard to greet the middle-aged driver with a smile, at least I could get her an appointment for Monday.
"Hi, what can we do for you today?" I asked with forced cheerfulness as she opened the door to her Vanilla Pearl C70.
"Oh. Well, hello dear. I need an oil change today, but I suppose I would have to talk to someone in the service department." She eyed me and shot me a condescending smile.
"It's your lucky day, then. I am 'someone'," I answered, shaking her hand and pointing to my embroidered Volvo polo shirt. Just below my name, it read Senior Service Representative. "I'm Bella. What can we do for you?"
"Oh, I... I apologize. You seem so young. You hardly look old enough to hold a job, let alone this particular occupation. Aren't you a little too pretty to be in service?" she asked pointedly, while still giving me the once over.
"I get that every now and again, but I assure you, I am qualified," I said, trying not to let my irritation show for the umpteenth time today. "Unfortunately, Miss...?" I knew that I had seen her in here before, but she wasn't one of my regulars so her name was evading me.
"Mrs. Debary," she answered.
"Mrs. Debary, we are pretty back logged for today. We will be unable to get to your vehicle this afternoon without a substantial wait, if we can get to it at all."
She opened her eyes wide with surprise and her eyebrows went straight up. Her mouth tightened into a scowl and she started to open her mouth, before I cut her off. "I would be more than happy to arrange an appointment for you first thing Monday morning. When you come in, we can have a driver waiting here to take you to work, or wherever you may need to be at that time."
"That simply won't do. I need it taken care of today. The oil needs to be changed, and I need the car washed and the interior detailed. You are open for a further four hours, no?" she challenged.
I raised an eyebrow at her. This woman had some nerve and an attitude. "Yes, we are. However, we have a full schedule, with clients who made their service appointments weeks ago. I will see what we can do, but as I mentioned, we will not be able to get to your vehicle right away."
She scowled at me. "I'll wait for it. And, Bella? I never wait more than an hour. Never. Tell your service manager that I'm here. If you are incapable of doing your job, then I am sure one of the grown-ups would be happy to do it for you," she snapped, pushing her keys into my hands.
WITCH! I wanted to say the word out loud and backslap her. Was she serious?
I took a breath and smiled widely, "Mrs. Debary, we don't play favorites at Ravenna Volvo. We treat each one of our customers as a VIP and provide the utmost in attention and service. I will do everything I can to get your vehicle in as quickly as possible, but you will have to wait. Now, can I show you to the service lounge?"
Or off a cliff? I thought to myself, and opened the door to the service department for her.
She smiled mischievously and paused a moment, "No, thank you. I know the way." She turned and continued through the door I held open for her.
I followed her inside and watched as she made her way through to the lounge. I went back to my station to get her paperwork started. One of the grown-ups...I'm 22, not 12.
"Jerry? How are we doing? I have a walk-in that wouldn't take no for an answer. Of course," I said in a sing song voice. Our Volvo owners rarely took no for an answer, especially the single and mature adult owners. The married men and the soccer moms were usually more flexible. They also made appointments.
"Well, we're okay but we may be until 7 tonight. Matt's in the weeds, he got into a recall repair on that CX60 and found some unrelated problems with the fuel system. We're waiting on the owners now. Uh, I think Vince and Sebastian are behind too. Maybe Seth can do it?" Jerry answered me without even looking up, his fingers flying on the keyboard. I printed out Mrs. Debary's service order and looked over my tech's service orders. Jerry was right; we were going to be here a while.
I walked over to his station, looking over his shoulder. He sighed, "No, no wait, Seth's got five oil changes queued and a few appointments yet to come in. I don't what to tell you, baby girl."
"Well, let's do this... Embry's here pulling some overtime in detailing. I'll go detail and we stick him in the pit with the walk-in and our last few appointments. I am sure he could use the hours and Mr. Myers isn't here today to object. We gotta do what we gotta do, right?" I shrugged.
"Is that what you think the 'grown-ups' would do," Jerry teased. I had to laugh. He was a fantastic service manager with a real sense of humor. He was great at schmoozing customers and our big boss, but just another one of the boys when it came right down to it.
"You heard that, huh? Yeah, well I'd do her oil change my dang self, but I just bought these khakis and I'm not ruining them for Mrs. Impatient McPushy Pants." I whispered the last part. Jerry laughed a bellowing laugh that echoed down the hall and caught the attention of the cashier across from us.
"Shhh," I giggled.
"Bella, you crack me up. I think I can cover us in here, but you'll need to get back before the end of the day madness begins. Go try to get detailing finished up for the afternoon and tell Embry he's in the pit. Good idea, baby girl." He raised his hand for a fist bump and nodded his head in approval.
"Alright, I'll be back," I said, grabbing the keys to Mrs. McPushy Pants' C70 and heading outside to check the mileage and pull it around back.
I really liked my job. I liked helping people. I liked getting to drive some crazy-expensive cars from time to time. I liked the fact that I knew practical things that most girls and women didn't take the time to learn about. I liked the respect that that knowledge garnered me. I not only knew how to change out a tire or a dead battery, but how to replace my own filters, fan belts and spark plugs. It was sort of like having my own little secret super power. Maybe I didn't look it, and I certainly didn't drive like it, but I knew how to take care of things under the hood.
The real revelation for me was that I actually enjoyed learning about cars. I never thought I would be into anything vehicular, at all. I liked books and listening to music. I generally avoided any activity which required some sort of skill in order to participate. However, getting stranded on the side of a two-lane highway in the pouring rain, with logging trucks rolling by at 70 miles per hour, is no fun. Coming out of a late movie in Port Angeles to find that Jessica Stanley's car battery had died and she didn't have jumper cables or know how to use them, was not much fun either. After that little episode resulted in hysterical tears and utter panic from Jess, I decided I had had enough. I was going to be able to do things to take care of myself and my ignoramus friends. I wasn't helpless and didn't need some kind of hero swooping into save the day, and certainly not the kind that would hang out at a biker bar.
The next weekend, I asked Charlie if he could show me how to take care of my truck, and what to do in common vehicular emergencies. In return, I tried to show him how to take better care of himself in the kitchen. It was worth a try, although I took to cars a lot better than my dad took to cooking. Charlie was happy to teach me how to change a tire or jump start my battery, but he suggested we both learn a thing or two from Jacob Black about the mechanics and maintenance of the ancient engine under my hood. After the first two weekends, I started hanging out with Jake and his friends in La Push on my own, and my dad and Billy Black resumed their fishing trips. The boys fixed up old cars, listened to music and talked about girls. I paid attention.
As I pulled Mrs. McPushy Pants' car around the back of the service building, I saw Embry's legs sticking out of the door of a shiny white C30 hatchback. It was a cute little car that the sales team had tried to sell me on a few times, but it wasn't really me. They tried time and again to find a car that would make me trade in the Chevy, but I drove so infrequently now; there wasn't much of a point. I did have a favorite Volvo model that I quietly gawked over when one came in, but it was something I kept to myself. Nobody needed to know the real reason that I walked into the dealership for the first time. It just so happened that when I went inside to use the restroom, I discovered they were looking for a new cashier in service department. The job paid a lot more than my job at the book store and they hired me on the spot.
Over the last three years, I've worked my way up and found a way to keep a full class load at the same time. I had to take online courses every term, limit my on-campus classes to Monday through Thursday mornings, and put in ten hour days on Fridays and Saturdays, but it was worth it. I'd taken out less than $10,000 in student loans and was set to graduate at the end of the semester, less than nine weeks away.
"Hey, Em!" I shouted his name over the roar of an industrial vacuum. It was ridiculously loud. "EMBRY! Hello?" I smacked his leg and he jumped.
"What the... Oh, hey Bells! You snuck up on me." He smiled sheepishly while he climbed out of the car. "Do you need something?"
"Yeah, we're getting slammed. I need you to do me a favor, you game?"
"Uh, sure. What do you need?" He wiped his hair out of his face and stood up to his full height. It never failed to amaze me how big the boys from the reservation had gotten. Most people assumed that Embry was well into his upper twenties, simply because of his size and mass. Whenever we told anyone he was only nineteen, the looks he got were priceless.
"I'm going to finish up detailing this afternoon. I need you to get in the bay and get us caught up. Is that okay?"
"Of course it is! You know you can count on me, sweets. I've always got your back," he winked, hanging up the vacuum attachment. I threw him the keys to the C70 and grabbed the paperwork off the dashboard.
"Awesome. Get started with this one, it's just an oil change but I need you to bring it back here so I can get it cleaned up, 'kay?" I handed him the paperwork and gave him a quick hug.
"Thanks," I said, and grabbed the vacuum to get to work.
"No problem," Embry answered and jumped in McPushy Pants' car.
I threw my long hair up into a pony tail and got to it. What felt like less than fifteen minutes later, Embry returned with the C70. I had to admit, the boy was good.
"Here you go, Bella. All done." He ran over while I was finishing up the windows in the hatchback.
"Did you even do the inspection, Embry? Seriously, are you goin' for a world record?" I asked jokingly.
"You know it!" He smiled and literally sprinted around the building to the service bay.
I finished up the hatchback and then got started on washing and vacuuming McPushy Pants' car. I took the extra time to make sure it would pass a white glove inspection. The woman was obnoxious, but despite her cynicism, I knew how to do my job and several other jobs around here. I did them very well, too.
When I finished with the interior and exterior, I pulled the vehicle back around to the front of the building and had Jerry page Mrs. Debary to the cashier's window. It took a little bit of effort for me not to gloat that we had only taken 56 minutes to finish her service, but I didn't want to give her the satisfaction of knowing that I cared. I hustled back to detailing to get through the rest of the vehicles waiting to be washed.
I had just gotten finished vacuuming one of the last cars for the day when I heard a familiar authoritative voice calling my name. "BELLA?"
"Mr. Myers?" I answered, pushing a loose piece of hair behind my ear. My heart started pounding and I tried to decide whether or not I was going to be in trouble with the owner of the dealership for being back here, instead of at my post in the service department.
"Bella, what the hell are you doing?" His voice sounded more curious than angry but his volume did nothing to calm my hammering heart. I could feel the blood flushing to my cheeks as he made his way to where I was standing.
"Sir? Did Jerry tell you that..." He didn't let me finish.
"Yeah, he told me that you guys were getting behind. I understand you also had a little visit from Belinda Debary. Did she tell you that she's my next door neighbor?," he asked with a tone of displeasure.
"No, sir. She didn't mention that." I bit my bottom lip and cringed internally. I should have known. She looked like she was up to something when I stood up to her condescending tone of voice.
"Well, she called me as soon as she left here," he said, looking at me with one eyebrow cocked up in his none existent hairline.
"Oh, she did? Was there some sort of problem with the car? I had Embry put a rush on it and-" Mr. Myers cut me off again.
"Bella! It's fine! You did an amazing job; she called to let me know what a go-getter you are. She said she thought you were going to send her car to Siberia and leave it there after the way she talked to you, but then you got it done in less than an hour. You should know that that self-important busybody calls my personal number every single time she comes in here! It's usually just to tell me how to run my business, but she was impressed with you. Said the car is cleaner than when she bought it! Jerry was pretty impressed with you too; you really took control of the situation." He slapped me on the back a little too hard and I stumbled forward a step.
"Well, thank you, sir. You know I try to help keep the department running efficiently," I said, rubbing my shoulder. I was pretty sure my cheeks were flushed to their brightest color by now.
"Yes, you do a good job. I also know you don't like a lot of praise and attention, so I won't be embarrassing you by sticking your face on a plaque on the wall again. I do, however, want to do something to show my appreciation for the way you jump in there on a regular basis dealing with customers and motivating the technicians. I think those boys would walk on broken glass for you." He crossed his arms over his chest and smiled widely.
"Oh, well..." I wasn't exactly comfortable with the attention I got from the male technicians, and I certainly didn't go looking for it.
"Now look, I already pay you more than any other service rep. Almost as much as I pay Jerry, just don't tell him that," he winked. "So, I can't give you a raise but I do have a special job for you." He looked like an indulgent parent about to watch their child open a long awaited gift.
"Okay, sure. What is it?" I asked, genuinely curious.
"We have an overseas home delivery coming in that you might be interested in. I need someone special to get it ready for me. And... The owner called today and asked if it could be picked up at the Pike Street location tomorrow instead of here, so I'll also need someone to drive it over there for me." He smiled wider.
"Oookay..." I wasn't sure how that was a reward, but I was not going to tell my boss that.
"Bella," he prodded, grinning like an idiot.
"Yes, sir?" I grinned back. I couldn't help myself; it was like trying to hold back the tide when it came to that man's contagious smile.
"It's a factory fresh 2011 S60. They're not even supposed to be available in Europe until next month. We won't be seeing another one until the end of the year, kiddo. On top of which, it has all kinds of custom options that you couldn't order in the U.S. It's one of kind. And, it's a nice, shiny, silver... just for you." He raised his eyebrows up and down real quick a couple times and laughed.
My mouth fell a little slack and I huffed out a breath. I had no idea how he knew about my preference for silver and should have been a little embarrassed by it, but I was sort of past the point of caring. It was THE car, only newer, and shinier, and I was going to get to drive it. I was going to drive a shiny silver Volvo. My mouth twisted into a little half smile and I shook my head at my own ridiculousness.
"You're kidding me, right." I asked.
"Not at all. I know that the S60r always caught your eye, but that aside I couldn't trust just anyone to handle this for me. This is a VIP arrangement. It has to be handled with care and it has to arrive at the Pike Street lot before tomorrow, in perfect condition. I trust you to do that. You may be young, but you're a heck of lot more responsible than anyone else around here." He patted my back.
"Wow. Just, wow. That's... Where is it?" I stammered in excited disbelief.
"Come on, I'll show you. I told you it was a custom car, and I mean custom engine, custom windows; you name it, it's been upgraded or personalized. It's somethin' special. I can't imagine why anyone would go to that much trouble for a Volvo. Seriously, if you're going to drop that kind of coin on a set of wheels, at least go for one of the big four," he said laughing. "Must have sentimental value."
"Or they just really like their Volvos? And honestly, they are a little less ostentatious than Mercedes or Jaguar. Do I really get to drive it?" I asked as we walked around the corner where the car was being unloaded from the truck.
"Woah..." I gushed.
"Yeah, that's what I thought." Mr. Myers laughed. "Have fun, baby girl." He slapped my shoulder like I was one of the guys again.
"Oh, I will.." I practically squealed and hopped towards the truck. As an afterthought, I turned and ran back to my boss, "Thank you, so much! I'll take good care of her." I threw my arms around his neck in a rare show of emotion for me. He messed up my hair and grinned, pleased with himself.
Sixty-five minutes later, I was sitting in one of the newest and nicest cars I had ever been in. It was a symphony of machinery and art. The digital technology and touch screens made me a tad nervous, but the sound system alone was worth getting excited over. I stretched a little in the heated leather driver's seat to the sounds of Prokofiev's Romeo and Juliet. Even though I was too concerned with the safety and condition of the vehicle to thoroughly enjoy driving it; for fifteen minutes I existed in a kind of dreamlike state. There, in the combined music of a twin turbo engine and a powerful Russian ballet, I imagined a world in which the mysterious Edward Cullen might have taken me, the plain and uncoordinated Bella Swan, for a ride in his shiny, silver Volvo.
Well, a girl could dream.