You want to sue me?! I sternly demanded a prompt answer from my customer. In those early days, manning the auto shop by myself was sometimes quite daunting. The only qualification I had about cars was that I had a driver’s licence to drive it. I knew very little about how the carburettor works, let’s not even talk about the car engine itself. Just the antenna section alone scared me, we had almost a hundred different ones!
You want to sue me? You want Sixty Minutes to come and disgrace me? Over $79 for something you broke and now expect a full refund? I peered at the thuggish bloke through my gold rimmed frames. He was riddled with tattoos all over his face; I was merely riddled with acne scars. He wore a long pigtail and a cruel scowl; I couldn’t match him with my fake growl. Reminded me of a silverback; but without a silver back. Ok, call the media, we do not mind free publicity. Any PR is good PR, I emphasised with a higher pitch. The bikie (I assumed he was a bikie, the hints were there, his Hell’s Angels leather jacket, his burly mates with folded ape-size arms hanging in front of the shop counter like a bad smell.) sneered and hissed, Watch your back, we will wait for you to come out after work. After work meant after sweeping and mopping the shop floor. I managed to get home safely that night, otherwise, I wouldn’t be writing this today.
He was back the next day! At the front of the shop, even before I got there. If only paying customers were like that, no, it is always fickle customers that queue up before opening time so that they can get their refunds before the cash register rings its first greeting for the day. Why don’t we negotiate, he asked? I have a friend who will mediate without bias. By that, he meant his fellow thugs would bear-hug me with their ape-arms? Or we can go to Consumer Affairs. It will cost you more to pay for court fees, he quipped, obviously equipped with extra legal knowledge overnight. His bikie mates arrived, and from the corner of my eye, I saw the only customer browsing in the other corner of the shop leave. His mates were raucous, obnoxious and one was downright ridiculous, flicking cigarette ash onto my meticulously mopped floor. I couldn’t help but follow him with an ash tray, catching dirty ash before they dirty my floor. Ok, let’s be smart about this, I did not want to have to mop my floor again before the first sale. A quick easy way to mediate was to offer him a 50:50 settlement to which he accepted immediately.
Urghhlings. I went home that night to recuperate from the stress. Yes, it is very necessary for a shop-keeper to know meditation, to de-stress. That’s infinitely better than to resort to medication.