Friday, November 26, 2010

Good Service Awards continued & Peter Toerien

Dear Peter Toerien,                                          
          This is another installment in my Good and Bad Service Awards series which I thought you might be interested in as it deals with music, a field in which you set such a high standard of excellence.
          I went to a most unusual show the other day. It was nothing like Cats, Grease or The Phantom of the Opera that you are so familiar with. But for anybody living in Cape Town it’s an absolute must. I found it quite superb.
          It had this title, which I suppose for a musical was not unusual. It was called Don’t Cry for my Masda 626 or any other Car that you can think of. Perhaps you can put it on at your Theatre on the Bay one of these days?

          I was in tears at one stage I can tell you at the first place I took my Mazda because they couldn’t find the fault in the air conditioner. They recommended Musical Cars. What! for air conditioning?

          Perplexed I phoned Dick Albertson at Glenhoek Motors near Kommetjie where I normally take my car for a service and asked, Dick where can I have my air conditioner fixed. I want someone who does a good job and doesn’t rip you off.
          Musical Cars in Retreat is the best place to go, he replied.
          I had to trek across a mountain to get there. The owner, Jeremy Nash diagnosed the problem; sourced a new part and had it delivered to his workshop within 24 hours, no mean feat considering my car was like me, ancient, very ancient. Even my doctor was unable to get me a new kidney that quickly and that was a matter of life and death.      
          My car was the first one built after the Model T Ford. And I had my first driving lessons in a donkey cart, much like most of the other motorists on South Africa’s roads today.
          I had to wait several hours to have a new condenser fitted because the connecting pipes were not exactly brand new, out of the box. But it was well worth the wait.  Jeremy bought me a chicken burger on the house and I was most impressed by the way he patiently dealt with a host of do-it-yourself mechanics who kept wandering in for advice with bits and pieces from their vehicles.
          The place was busy, really busy with cars coming in all the time, usually with a variety of air conditioning problems. But occasionally Jeremy had to deal with the radio side and that’s where his musical talents came in. This had taken a back seat in recent years as most cars now come already fitted with radios.
          The only thing that disturbed me was something he let slip while I was waiting. I’m sure he didn’t do it on purpose because he could lose a lot of business that way.  In Cape Town, as everybody knows, you are a complete nothing if you haven’t been to the right school. A First Class Matric with 20 distinctions and an automatic entrance to Oxford or Cambridge counts for nothing if you went to school at Witblikkiesfontien Hoer (that’s not meant to offend) School.  Nobody will even speak to you in Cape Town once they hear that.
          Anyway Jeremy seemed to have forgotten about the importance of this pecking order when he casually mentioned that he was educated, if you can call it that, at the South African College Schools commonly known as SACS.
           That’s a Government school isn’t it old boy, although they’ll tell you at the school’s office that it is ‘Semi private’. That sounds so much better don’t you think. Why couldn’t the poor chap have gone to Bishops like everybody else? Well I suppose there’s nothing else for it. I’ll have to speak to him now that he’s got my car in pieces.
          Alright SACS is one of the elite schools of the Cape but it’s well below Bishops on the excellence ladder. Bishops, or the Diocesan College to give it its proper name - and boy is it proper - is the real thing, a pukka private school. Singing pro-government songs in the chapel is not compulsory and the boys are not forced to belong to Julius Malema’s ANC Youth League.
          After fixing my car and testing it repeatedly for any sign of leaks Jeremy sent me on my way with a cheery invitation to bring it back at any time just to make sure all was well. He gave me a year’s warranty on the condenser but it did not apply if I drove while stoned. Correction: it actual said, Excluding stone damage.
          The bill verified completely what Dick had said about not being ripped off. At the first place I went to I was told that a new condenser would cost in the region of R8 000. Jeremy’s price:R2 200.
          I wondered how he had arrived at the name Musical Cars until I saw the long line of vehicles waiting to go into the workshop. Musical Chairs became Musical Cars when they had to get the one in front out again.
          Peter, although I’m tone deaf, I hope I’ve given you an idea for another one of your fantastic shows. When it comes to setting high standards in a different field Jeremy Nash can play a tune with the best of them.
          Yours faithfully,
          Jon, a talent scout of 120 years experience. 

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