The Volvo salesman

“Not the cigarette lighter again,” my mother moaned.

We were driving out of Houston on our way to San Antonio and I was driving her nuts.

“I’m just saying that if your cigarette lighter was working, I could plug in the GPS and we’d know where we were,” I said for the zillionth time.

My brother agreed with me. Gussie didn’t care one way or the other. He just wanted his morning tuna. We had run out and he was pissed.

Gussie who hasn't had his morning tuna.

Gussie who hasn’t had his morning tuna.

We had one goal as we drove into the outskirts of San Antonio: Find a Volvo dealer and get the damn cigarette lighter fuse replaced, for everybody’s sake.

Finding a dealer was chaotic old school with outdated maps and an iPhone I couldn’t charge so I couldn’t use the GPS on my iPhone either.

“I’m just saying that if the cigarette lighter was working, I could charge my iPhone,” I said again.

I’m sure both my mother and Jim wanted to fling themselves out of the car door, tuck and roll, and run. I just wanted to fix the damn cigarette lighter.

We finally wove through a tangle of San Antonio highway, dodging monster trucks with faded Romney Ryan stickers to find the Volvo dealer.

We entered the air conditioned Volvo service department with Jim carrying Gussie’s crate. We had no choice. We couldn’t leave him in the Volvo while we waited our turn to get the 50 cent fuse replaced.

So we sat in the waiting room with Gussie on the carpet, glaring at us and everybody else in the waiting room. We could be here one hour, we could be here eight. We had to wait our turn.

Gussie waits in the San Antonio Volvo dealership and he hasn't had his morning tuna.

Gussie waits in the San Antonio Volvo dealership and he hasn’t had his morning tuna.

While we waited, a young Volvo salesman walked over and we started to talk. It was a slow day and he seemed to want to talk about anything but Volvos.

He had on pressed slacks, a long-sleeved white shirt and the hopeful smile of a young married man with two kids and one more on the way.

His wife was a school psychologist. His daughter was four, and his little son was one.

“I made him a bat cave,” he said, and pulled out his phone.

“Like a man cave?” I asked.

Gussie continued to scowl at us from his own man cave on the waiting room floor.

My mom, brother and I looked at the photo on the phone. This young car salesman, who probably lived on a tight budget, had turned his son’s room into a young boy’s paradise with the bat signal painted on the wall, stalagmites and stalactites and a little control panel on a tiny desk that would take years for the little guy to grow into.

“I also painted my daughter’s room with all her Sesame Street characters,” he said.

Pink and yellow and happy and bright.

A buzzer overhead summoned him to the showroom and he put his cell phone and his heart back into his pocket.

“Nice talking to you…Manuel,” I said, looking at his plastic name tag.

Our car was ready a few minutes later and we loaded a watchful and suspicious Gussie back into the backseat of his chariot.

I plugged the GPS into the cigarette lighter and it lit up like a bat signal, calling us back to the road.






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