A little warranty work, please
written by Bill:
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“Good morning. This is the White House. How may I direct your call?” she said in a peculiarly soft and fetching feminine voice.
be a left-over from the Clinton administration, I thought.
“Yes, thanks,” I responded. “Service Department, please.”
I said. “You still there?”
“Uh, yes, sir,” the woman stammered. The softness was gone, replaced by a perplexed and vaguely
irritated tone. “I’m sorry. I don’t believe I quite heard you correctly. Will you repeat your request, please?”
“Sure,” I said.
Silence, once more.
Then, “I’m sorry, sir. I think you must be trying to reach the Pentagon. I
can get that number for you, if you’d like.”
“The Pentagon?” I said, growing impatient. “Why would I be trying to reach the
“That’s the headquarters for the various branches of the service, Mister … I’m sorry, again, sir, I don’t believe
I got your name,” she said.
“It’s Barth, ma’am,” I replied, trying to tamp down my growing frustration, “but that doesn’t matter.
Look, I’m not trying to reach the military. I want to talk to your service manager.”
“One moment, sir,” she said, “and I will
transfer your call to my manager.”
Now we’re getting somewhere, I thought.
“Mr. Barth,” a male voice crackled through
the phone line. No softness there. Must be left over from the Bush administration. “I am the shift supervisor for the White House
switchboard. What is it you need?”
“I tried to tell the lady,” I said, “but I couldn’t get her to listen. I need to talk to
your Service Department.”
“Yes, Mr. Barth, that’s what the operator told me,” he replied. “The White House doesn’t have a Service
Department, per se. Perhaps if you explain your situation to me I will be able to route your call to the proper person.”
Service Department? Well, maybe they call it something else here, I thought.
“Okay, let’s give that a try,” I said. “I’ve got
a nice gold Chrysler 300. It has a small tear in the driver’s side leather seat. It’s been riding a little rough, too. Might be something
wrong with the shocks.”
That infernal silence again.
“Um, well, Mr. Barth. There are laws against making crank calls
to the White House. You should be aware the call is being recorded and you could be prosecuted,” he said in a brusque, officious tone.
the hell for?” I shouted. “Look, dammit, my car is still under warranty. It’s a good car but has a couple of small problems. I read
in the paper that Obama said he was guaranteeing the warranties on American vehicles, so quit screwing around and connect me to service.”
funny, Mr. Barth,” he said, sarcasm dripping from his crooked tongue. “Now that you’ve had your laugh perhaps you’d like to find someone
else to annoy. We’re trying to run a country here, you know.”
“Yeah, and I’m trying to run my Chrysler 300,” I said, ginning
up enough sarcasm to match this overpaid, under-worked government turkey. “What’s the problem? Obama trying to weasel out of my warranty
guarantee already? Look, you tell him I can go swap this thing in on a Honda or a Toyota and take my business there.”
silence. That got to him, I thought.
“All right, Mr. Barth,” he said, a weary note of resignation in his voice. “I will put
you through to service right away.”
“Well, it’s about time,” I said. “I’m not getting any younger and neither is my 300.”
sir,” he said. The familiar ring told me the call was being transferred. You’ve got to be firm with people like that.
Barth, this is the Service … the Secret Service. Stay where you are. A unit is on the way.”
Impressive, I thought. Obama’s
Service Department makes house calls.