FIRST: We find the huge "Toyota" sign signifying that we've made it to our destination and follow the "Service" sign to get to our appointment. It seems a bit strange that as we round the bend, following the sign, there seems to be no clear entry area for a vehicle OR a person. Nonetheless, I drive on. Slowly. Creeping. Looking around as if I were lost. (Mostly because I was.) Just before a line of garages, full of cars getting worked on by men in "Toyota Nation" shirts, there is a sign that reads, "Service 200 Yards ahead." Strange sign, I think. But oh well.
We squeeze into a parking spot just barely big enough for our car. Forget about opening the doors wide enough to unbuckle and lift the children from their seats, it's more of a pinch and maneuver and desperate attempt not to scratch the cars on each side. Finally we're all out. Me and three kids and ALL THE STUFF WE NEED TO SIT IN THE WAITING AREA OF A SERVICE STATION FOR HOURS ON END. No problem. Now I just have to figure out where in the world we're supposed to go because there is no obvious signage.
A man walks over and says, "Are you looking for the service area?" Why yes, I am. "Sorry, you got all your kids out, but it's actually through that fence and up across the road there." Say WHAT?!?! You have got to be kidding me. I look at him with desperation. With empathy, he looked from me to each of the kids and said, "let me go put this paperwork where it goes and I'll drive your car over for you and you can walk there." Yes, please and thanks.
He comes back five minutes later and drives my Rav4 to the service station a good half a mile away while we saunter on over, trying not to get run over by the other dozens of cars that seem equally as confused as we were (but who were smart enough not to park and get out before asking where to go).
THEN: The "service station" was full of hallways and glass rooms and people, but again, no clear signage. I really wanted something that said, "COME HERE FIRST." Too bad I didn't find anything like that. We walked around at the pace of a 3 year old who has no interest in his current endeavors, slowly passing each person and waiting area, wondering where in the world we were supposed to go. We walked the entire length of the building before I decided we must have passed wherever we needed to be, so we turned around and walked back, at an even slower pace. Finally, I decided to ask the cashier.
Me: Hi! We parked in the wrong area and a kind gentleman helped to drive my car over here while we walked. I can see my car in the service area, but I have no idea where I'm supposed to go. I'd like to touch base with someone about what I'd like done to the car.
Cashier: You need to drive your car up to the service area and the porter will come out to meet you.
Me: Yes, I understand that's the way it's *supposed* to be done. But, as I said, someone ELSE drove my car here for me and so I was unable to talk with a porter. What should I do now?
Cashier: Do you even know this person who brought your car? Where did they put it? You need to go out and get your car.
Me: No. I don't need to go out and get my car. It's in the right area where the cars need to be to be serviced. The man who dropped it off told me that a man named Nathan is handling it now and it is all set to be serviced. I just need to talk to this person.
Cashier. Okay.... let me look you up.... what's your last name?
Me: Bratt. B-R-A-T-T.
Cashier: I don't see you on here. Are you sure the car was dropped off here?
Me: Yes. Absolutely sure. I can see it outside. I just need you to tell me where to go now. I think maybe the man who dropped it off said "Nathan" was taking care of it?
Cashier: (rolling eyes) Well, Nathan is in that first room to the left. You can go ask him.
Meanwhile, baby strapped to me in a carrier is getting fussy and my 3 and 4 year olds are running around playing with toy planes and asking loudly about how that shiny red car got into the building.
AT LAST: We get situated. We talk to Nathan. I give him the information. We're good to go. We find a children's area. Frozen is playing on the big TV and we're the only ones in the room. Perfect. Sit down. Relax. Oh wait.... the kids probably have to pee...
Me: Wait, kids, before you get comfortable, let's go to the potty and then we can come back and have a snack and then you can play.
Son: NO! <<firmly hold son's arm and walk to bathroom>>
Me: Okay [son] it's time to try to go to the bathroom.
Me: Okay, let's go in here <<taking off diaper and hold him in front of toilet>>
Son: NO, I wanted to go in THAT bathroom!! <<son starts flailing body and writhing as though in pain>>
Me:<<Trying to keep his now naked bum off the floor>> Okaaaaaaaay, let's go over to that one.... <<holding him up as much as possible while his shorts are down around his legs, maneuvering to the adjacent stall>>
Son: NO! I have to take my clothes off!
Me: No, we don't need to take off all of our clothes to use the bathroom. Please keep them on. We're in a public restroom.
Son: No! I have to take off my shoes!
Me: No, there is probably pee on the floor. Please keep your shoes on. <<son starts screaming; I proceed to put him on the toilet seat and take off his shorts and sandals>>
Son: Okay. Now I'm done.
Me: You're finished? You have no pee? After all of that? After I finally took off your shorts and sandals??
Son: I'm done. Get me off. <<Son jumps off toilet, bare feet on the floor, making efforts to keep his feet clean completely useless>>
Shorts on. Sandals on. Wash hands. Gather belongings. Head back to play area.
That's it. I'm done. I'm exhausted. I just want to shrivel up and look at Facebook on my phone and pretend I have no kids for a few minutes (except that I'm rifling through my diaper bag looking for a nursing cover because baby girl is crying and wiggling and needing to eat).
And that's when he comes in. Nathan. Yes, Nathan. Remember him? The one in charge of the car. He tells me the car needs new brake pads. What? I say. He repeats himself. I try to remember what it's like to think coherently about something other than diapers and toilets and nursing babies, but the thoughts don't come. I try asking questions to give me more time to screw my head on, but it's not working. Yes, I tell him. YES? What did I just say yes to? Yes, he says, do the brakes, then? Sure, I say. He quickly turns and walks away and I feel like crumbling. What did I just do? I just agreed to a $600+ service to our car without carefully thinking it through.
I want to make people sign a waiver when I go in a place like a car service center or anywhere else that large sums of money might potentially be exchanged. I want it to say something like,
I hereby recognize the inability of this mother to make sound financial decisions at this time and waive my right to charge her anything more than $100. If (insert name of company here) feels it is in the best interest of this client/mother to purchase (insert expensive service here), we promise to print out all applicable information and will give 24 hours for her to make an informed decision.
Signed, (potential benefactor-of-my-money)
Wouldn't that be great? If only. I wish exhaustion didn't make it so hard to formulate coherent thought. Feeling really thankful that, for the most part, the only store I have to frequent is one that sells groceries. Usually the most damage I can do there is buying an unnecessary gallon of ice cream.