I have noticed that there are three things in US that must go hand in hand: Car + Cell Phone + AAA Membership. Even if one of them is not present, life is tough. So, when I landed in US on May 1st, I ensured that I got my cell phone on 4th and AAA membership on 5th. When I finally got car on 9th, I had all three.
Since I got the car in Pittsburgh, I had to drive all the way to Boston and that’s 500 odd miles. So, I wouldn’t blame the car when, for the first time in my life, on May 10th 2009 at about 3.30 pm, I got a flat tire on the expressway, when I was just 50 miles from my destination. 50 or 500, it doesn’t matter. Stranded is stranded.
So I took my cell phone, called up AAA and told them my problem and where I was. In 15 minutes, I had a AAA guy with me and in 5 minutes he fixed my car. He replaced my tire with a temporary usable tire that I had. That was where his task ended, right? Wrong. He went beyond that. He asked me how long I had to go, advised me that it was not safe to travel that distance in the temp tire, told me where to find the nearest tire shop and asked me to get myself a new one. I thanked him profusely and made my way to the nearest tire shop that the AAA guy told me to.
The Firestone shop was open on Sunday till 5 pm and it was 4.15 pm. I dreaded them saying it was too late. But when I went there, the guy at the counter was all inviting. He looked at the tire that had gone flat, checked first whether he could fix it, instead of making me buy a new tire. He realized that he couldn’t fix it and a new tire had to be bought. As with most cars here in US, if one tire is replaced, all tires need to be replaced. So he checked if other tires need to be replaced too and informed one of them was new but two others had to be replaced too. However, he said, I can consult my mechanic and get new ones whenever I want and not necessarily with him nor that day.
Then he gave me three options for the new tire that I had to buy and gave honest opinion for each one of them. He didn’t recommend the costliest as most mean people do. Finally I choose the one in between costliest and cheapest and I had my car all set and I was back to business at 5 pm.
Between 3.30 and 5 pm on a Sunday, I realized how professional the two guys were: the AAA and the Firestone mechanic. As long as I dealt with them, I knew I was in safe hands. I had the confidence that I was not being cheated. That’s what humanity is about. Its about trust and being fair to one another.
PS: Recently, I read two more instances of such professionalism. One was in Germany when my friend lost his digicam. He had to head back to India and he even came back to India, but upon enquiring with the Lost and Found department, he was able to get back his digicam even after 30 days after he came back to India. The article was written in Kannada and its not a blog and hence I cannot link it. The other one is here. This one’s really inspiring. And very touching.