A few weeks back my high-school-senior son’s “Check Engine” light came on the dashboard of his car. Panicked, I warned him that light was nothing to ignore, sharing with him how my younger sister had fried her engine at 16 by doing just that.
In the interest of furthering his “adulting”, I put him in charge of taking the car into the dealership. It’s a 2015 Honda Civic, which we named Hamilton. Yes, we name inanimate objects. The car only has about 29K miles on it so it seemed suspect to see such a warning.
Aidan made an appointment and took the car in. For some reason an engine sensor (don’t ask me which one) was no longer working and that is why the dashboard light was on. OK, easy enough, replace the sensor. How expensive could that be? Turns out about $500. Ouch.
“the frickin’ squirrel toasted the car’s computer”
The very next day, you guessed it, the check engine light re-appeared. Back to the dealership he went. Perplexed by the situation, the repair person asked to keep the car overnight for further scrutiny. What they found was not pretty. Apparently, a squirrel had gotten into the engine and chewed the wires to the engine control unit (ECU). This sucker basically acts as the car’s central “computer” and is critical for proper engine performance, monitoring a variety of engine sensors and adjusting input parameters to ensure optimal performance as well as fuel economy. In simpler terms, the frickin squirrel toasted the car’s computer.
Now, That Sounds Expensive. And It Is.
On a whim — ok maybe my boyfriend’s suggestion — I called my insurance company to see if I just happened to be covered. Fully expecting them to guffaw and let me down, I was truly surprised when they told me that I am covered for squirrels. The best part of the conversations, of which I had many, was that none of the USAA insurance company employees registered a hint of surprise when I explained my situation. Apparently squirrels are a real threat in the auto insurance world.
“Much like trips to Home Depot and Lowes, each one begets another, one cannot make a singular call to one’s insurance company.”
And while I had Aidan doing the “adulting” on the car repair, I dealt with the insurance company. Much like trips to Home Depot and Lowes, each one begets another, one cannot make a singular call to one’s insurance company. At the end of the initial “Am I covered for squirrel?” inquiry, the USAA representative thanked me for my loyalty and expressed the company’s gratitude for my 31 years as a customer.
WHAT??? Did I Hear That Correctly?
Did the agent casually say the words “31 years”? I guess it must have been that crib policy I bought at age two.
OK, not going to lie, it smarted. Not sure what I was thinking… Clearly I hadn’t been pondering just how long USAA and I had been together. But hearing 31 shocked me akin to a bucket of ice water. I jokingly responded: “Wow, this might be my longest relationship.” The agent, who I doubt was yet 30, politely giggled. My guess is that my response was as common as the squirrel sabotage.
Remember how I said that each phone call begets another? Well, this “lovely” 31-year reminder was at the finale of every interaction’s script. And not to disappoint, I participated with a witty retort every time, trying to come up with something new and clever with each call.
“Ouch, you sure know how to make a girl feel old.” “My relationship with USAA is older than you, I bet.” … I think you get the picture.
My Life Lesson:
“Upon reflection, I am not sure why I felt the need to call this data point out”
At first, I prepared to “enlighten” USAA, to fill them in that their “customer appreciation” tactic wasn’t doing it for me. Of course, life is busy and I didn’t act upon it right away. And if that’s not ANOTHER life lesson, I don’t know what is. (the wait to respond when you’re emotional lesson)
Upon reflection, I am not sure why I felt the need to call this data point out, to shine light on it, give it power and energy by engaging. Why didn’t I just say “You’re welcome.” or “Thank you for being an amazing insurance provider” — which they are?
And so, I changed my mind about USAA’s reminder of my fealty. My relationship with USAA, while not really the longest, is based on all the right stuff. They do right by me. They’ve always done right by me. How am I so sure? Every time another insurance suitor calls on me and finds out I’m already taken by USAA, they quickly dismiss themselves. They know they don’t have what it takes to say to me: “Happy 31-Year Anniversary”.
P.S. Photo credit goes to my son, Aidan. @throughaidanseye