My Kingdom for a Low Beam

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I made an appointment for Saturday, 5 May 2018, at Southern Chrysler Jeep Greenbrier in Chesapeake to have a low beam replaced on my 2014 Jeep Cherokee. I was told, while making the appointment, to show up at 7 a.m., and they would get to it and get me out the door. I had another commitment on Saturday, so time was of the essence. (At this point, with this dealership, the thought “I should know better” crept into my mind)

I arrived at 6:45 a.m. and was the 4th car in line in the maintenance lane. The service advisor checked the Jeep in. I thought this was a straightforward job of changing out the low beam bulb on the right side. That is what I was here for, and that was all I wanted. A little over an hour later I was called to the service desk.  The service advisor informed me that the low beam was expensive, around $70 (In fact, it was $55). I must have had a curious expression on my face.  I needed the low beam, I was aware of the cost involved.  What I did not understand was why the bulb was not already installed or why I was standing here.  The job should have taken 15-20 minutes at the most.

The service representative then started telling me about the 23 point inspection completed on the car. Excuse me? I was here for a simple (I thought) bulb replacement. Why were they wasting my time doing a 23 point inspection? Was it just like the one they did on 21 April 2018 (2 weeks earlier) when I was in for an oil change and tire rotation? I had that report in my maintenance file, and there was nothing to cause concern. He then mumbled about brake fluid color and how much it would cost me to have the work done. ARE YOU KIDDING ME? I came in for a BULB REPLACEMENT!   Was I missing something?  Southern Jeep seemingly was taking this opportunity to try to make a little more money off of me.

I asked how long it would take to change the bulb. I was told by the annoyed service rep who was failing to sell me on another service, that it would be another 30-45 minutes. And an hour for the brake fluid, one more attempt to up-sell me. After repeating that I did not want the brake fluid service, I asked the service desk to do only the work that I had scheduled. That work could have been completed by this point had they not wasted time on the inspection that I did not authorize.

Almost 40 minutes later I was called to the cashier to settle my bill and get my keys. The paperwork I was given did not include the inspection report. Next time it will be Autozone and a YouTube video. I will do it myself.

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2001 Cherokee Sport

I have owned three Jeeps over the years.  My first was a 1988 Cherokee. I had to give that up in 1994 when I transferred to Japan.  My second was a 2001 Cherokee Sport that I put over 270,000 miles on before buying my current ride in 2014.  The first two Jeeps ran reliably and only needed standard maintenance, brakes, and tires. I loved both of those Cherokees.  In fact, I regret selling the 2001 Jeep after buying the 2014 version.  My current Cherokee had 11 factory recalls in the first few years, ranging from computer updates to wiring harnesses. I also have had to replace a bad alternator and battery and had performance issues with the 9-speed automatic transmission.  Compared to the performance of my first two Jeeps, it has been a disappointment   I may have purchased my last Jeep product.

Southern Chrysler Jeep Greenbrier continues to set the customer service bar low and then fails to reach it.

 

The Battle Standard of Treason

It now stands on the west side of the Chesapeake Expressway just before the toll plaza heading south towards the Outer Banks of North Carolina. It will be seen by countless thousands of vacationers driving to the beach for their summer vacation along the Atlantic Coast.  A vast majority of those vehicles will have license plates from northern states. Yankees traveling from  Ohio, Maryland, New York, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Delaware and the New England States.  They will all get a glimpse of it in the breeze.  And some of them will know that they are not welcome here.  The message will be quite clear, flapping in the wind as they continue their trek south.

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Alongside the Chesapeake Expressway

The flag flying there is the Confederate battle standard, an 8 X 8-foot flag that accompanied the Confederate Army of Northern Virginia into battle.  Although romanticized over the last 150 years, this flag represents an attempt to fracture this country. To many, it was the battle standard of treason.

I don’t usually drive that far south on my daily commute, but I was made aware of the placement of the flag from an article in the Virginian Pilot.  I drove south this morning to have a look myself.  While to the passer-by this may seem to be as innocent as the placement of a flag noting the position of a Confederate unit on a battlefield (the nearby exit is Battlefield Blvd, although that is a reference to a Revolutionary War battle) it will be clear to most locals that this flag’s purpose is to further the cause of Southern Identity Politics. The placement is meant to be a challenge, to be off-putting, threatening.  They are trying to parlay the flag’s presence to stir up sentiment in the Commonwealth that will divide us.

The flag was erected by a group called “The Virginia Flaggers.”  If you look at their Blogspot, they are advocating for the return of the flags of the Confederacy and the Restoration of Southern Honor.  They have placed 26 Confederate Flag displays, on private property, throughout the Commonwealth in positions to attract attention to their cause.  The crown jewel of the collection is the 20 X 30 foot Confederate Navy Jack in Chester, Virginia, alongside Interstate 95.

Rallying around those flags are people who feel marginalized by a state that has turned Blue in the last few election cycles.  These people feel like their state has been overtaken by “carpetbaggers” from the North who have come south and diluted the gentile quality of southern society.  Of note, in recent years the Commonwealth’s Governor, Terry McAuliffe, a Syracuse, New York native, stripped these very people of their coveted battle flag license plates.  This group seems to think that their way of life has been threatened by transplanted northern liberals.  As we enter the gubernatorial election cycle, they are recruiting Republican candidates who will support their cause and continue the rhetoric that demonizes those who are geographically challenged by not having been born in the Commonwealth or the other states that seceded from the Union over 155 years ago.

I think there is a place for Confederate flags and monuments.  I believe that they should be displayed on battlefields to mark lines.  I believe it is appropriate to use them to mark the graves of Confederate dead in private cemeteries and in museums throughout the country.  I think that the monuments to Confederate dead in nearly every Virginia town and city are appropriate and should be left in place.  I don’t see them as a threat, but as a reminder of the rank and file soldiers who may have romantically believed their cause was righteous and their home state more sovereign than the federal government.  I think the cry for removal of statues of Robert E.Lee, for example, by groups like the NAACP and Black Lives Matter is shortsighted and equally divisive.  They are promoting their own vile brand of identity politics.

This flag is flying on private property.  So a lengthy discussion of flying it on public land or the exercise of the groups 1st Amendment rights does not apply here. In fact, if you travel the rural roads of Virginia, you will see all manner of Confederate flags, from the Bonnie Blue Star to battle standards adorning the front porches of thousands of houses and vehicles.  That speaks to a larger issue.

What does matter to me is that this is sending a message about the City of Chesapeake, the Commonwealth of Virginia and those who cling to the “ideals” of the old South.  It screams intolerance, hate and a nineteenth century failed economic system reliant on enslaving other human beings. How can that help our communities or state?

I am a big fan of the first amendment.  I think people have the right to speak their mind and spew their hate as much as the next guy. I spent over 23 years wearing the uniform of the United States to protect and defend those rights.  I will gladly stand up and say that this group, hiding behind the defense of their “heritage,” has every right to show their ass. To reveal what they really are.   I also believe that their mission is to further their own version of identity politics and has nothing to do with their heritage.  That is not conducive to life in this country or in this century.

At some point, we need to all be Americans.  I think it is time to look forward, not cling to the failed political and economic systems that nearly destroyed this country over 150 years ago.

Parlay