Dave's Cross-Country Trip 2003

Day Eighteen

by Dave Schultheis

Thursday, June 5, 2003 - Villanueva, New Mexico

I was awake early and got up shortly after 7:00 a.m.

Liz prepared a nice breakfast of scrambled eggs, juice and bagels. She kindly prepared a small portion of non-spicy eggs for me.

A little while later, Don T. arrived from Colorado, with his truck full of audio and musical equipment. He might've had a motorcycle in there, I'm not sure.

Paul and I left about 9:30 a.m. and rode about 60 miles into Santa Fé, arriving at the dealership at 10:45 a.m. (Okay, it was exactly fifty-seven miles to the dealership.) The part had not arrived but they expected it soon, so we waited.

I spent a little time in the "front" of the dealership, sales and MotorClothes, and happened to see an impromptu management conference in progress. The sales area was small, and this did not seem to be a particularly well-run organization, but I guess they do what they have to do. I'm not _upset_ that they didn't have a Fat Boy logo tee-shirt that I wanted. Disappointed, but not upset. Some dealers have them, some do not.

I took the opportunity to turn on my Sprint PCS cellular phone and within a few minutes was beeped with voice mail messages. Dave Clements had called, letting me know that my ill co-worker had died, and on a happier note, gave me the date of a certain get-together in Jackson later in the year, so that I could put it on my calendar. It will be left as an exercise to the reader to determine _which_ Jackson.

Then I checked my voice-mail pager for messages, and there were none.

I left the dealership and rode to The Home Depot, just a few blocks down, to get some parts for one of the minor repair jobs that were under way. I believe this particular purchase was for an electrical repair.

I have been to several Home Depots in my life, but this was by far the most horrible service anywhere. If you aren't interested in reading about it, please skip ahead.

I had a sample of the part that we needed, and have become accustomed to stopping at the return desk (of whatever store) and either getting a sticker put on the item or at least showing them that I brought it from home, so that I would not be charged for the item, nor would I be accused of theft.

I walked into the store and stood at the Return desk. There was a female employee on the telephone, and a female customer waiting for help. There was no other employee in sight, and we waited patiently. Another store clerk walked in our direction, and we thought that she was coming to help us. The other customer in line was thankful, as she told me she had been waiting for several minutes.

However, this employee not only did not stop to help us, she walked right by without saying anything at all. Not "I'll call someone to help you," not "someone will be here in a moment," not "Sorry I can't help you but I'm too busy with my own life," nothing.

So, after another few minutes of waiting, I walked farther into the store, found another employee, and asked "Where is the store manager?" This employee, showing a fundamental lack of understanding of the implication of the question, that is, that there was a problem, replied, "He's not here today."

So I reworded the question. "Who is in charge?" I was told that a woman named Meredith was in charge. I asked how I could contact her, and she was paged.

After a few more minutes wait, she appeared, and I tried to briefly explain that more help was needed at the Return desk. By this time, there were two or three more people waiting in line.

Meredith, the person in charge, said she would drop what she was doing and help. I replied that although that would be nice, she didn't have to do that, but she could call someone to help, and then she could go about her business. So she watched while I went back and stood in line. The line moved slowly, but by some miracle (?), someone else came to help. All told, I think I had to wait about 15 minutes in the return line, which I believe to be unacceptable, and certainly not up to The Home Depot's standards of customer service.

I later heard from Amanda and Liz that they've had many bad experiences at this same store, but the main office seems unresponsive to the problem.

Anyway, I found the right department, located the proper part, then looked at the long lines at the registers. (Again, a management problem.) I figured I would try their self-check-out, and while it was not completely intuitive, I did figure out how to pay for my stuff and get some cash back.

This had been so unpleasant, and it was quite warm and, well, Wendy's was almost across the street, so ... I had to stop and get a Frosty! Curiously, the employee who handed me the product and my change said "See you tomorrow." Talk about your excellent customer service!

I rode a very short distance to a Shell Station for fuel, then got back to Santa Fé Harley-Davidson at 12:35 p.m. Back at the Service Department, Paul advised me that the UPS truck had arrived, unloaded and left. Did they find his part and start work on his motorcycle right away? No.

After waiting a while longer, Paul brought to the attention of shop personnel that the UPS truck had delivered some boxes, could someone please find his part so they could start working on his bike. There was a lot of coming and going of employees, and nobody was able to keep track of the fact that Paul was "on the road" and waiting.

After several minutes of searching, they finally found his part, but there was another delay in getting his motorcycle physically into the shop. Eventually they did wheel it up the ramp and into the shop area. Paul had told me several times that I didn't have to wait, so I finally decided to return to Amanda's with the electrical part, so we could finish that task.

I left at 1:40 p.m., encountered a few sprinkles on the way back, and arrived at the Land of AHs at 2:50 p.m. (It was 58 miles back.)

New arrivals, since we had left, were Randy S. and Snarl from the pacific northwest by way of everyplace else. Later, we were joined by Dave Nichols (with Uni-go trailer) and his neighbor Don Kent from San Diego. LESDL and Kim arrived by rental car, after flying in. Lee Peterson from TX rolled in on his violet pearl Road Glide. Dp and Big Red came in with Chuck and Barb Lanter on separate bikes. Steph G. from So Cal arrived. I was great to see old friends again. Not that they're old. Oh, never mind.

It is important to note that a number of the folks attending this get-together had been traveling long distances, and some had partied elsewhere prior to their arrival here in New Mexico.

Snarl, by virtue of having a broken shoulder, had sweet-talked our hostess into letting him sleep in the house, and he worked out an arrangement with the futon, I think.

Many tents were set up and belongings stowed. There was quite a hub-bub of activity going on all around the outside of the house.

Amanda had a covered outdoor area at one end of the house with coolers and a tub full o' cold beer and sodas, a keg, many chairs, a chaise lounge and some tables and benches, where folks could lounge and chat and drink and snack.

Another flurry of activity was going on inside while Liz, Amanda and Paul prepared another wonderful dinner with lots of "southwest flavor," which means green chiles on everything. Everyone had a great meal and I carefully and genteelly removed the chiles.

Later we had a fire in the burn barrel, just a few feet from the coolers and tub full o' cold beers and sodas. We had a little music around the barrel when Randy strummed the guitar and sang, and Lee P. demonstrated his skill on the harmonica.

Since there was concern about overfilling the septic tank (or was it a leach-field?), I did not take a shower, but instead used a wash rag (oops! "face cloth") on the "important places," then went to bed around 9:30 p.m.

Miles for the day = 119. Miles for the trip = 5801.

Tomorrow: a car in a bank, polka music, and an exhaust system repair.

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Created on January 8, 2004. Updated on January 28, 2004.
David W. Schultheis, San José, Silicon Valley, Santa Clara County, California, USA