November 16, 2018

Motherhood 101 – Dangerous Roads

My son got his learner’s permit the very first day he was able. He made an appointment at the DMV, found the driving school he wanted to use, and started to look for cars. He was excited to drive, and had saved his Bar Mitzvah money to buy a car. He had a plan and stuck to it. I was happy for him to have reached the milestone, but have been terrified from the first day he drove. That daily fear continues today and will be there for the rest of my life.

When I gave Charlie driving lessons he called me “Howler Mom” because he said I screamed like a howler monkey when he drove. I did. It is horrible when your baby starts to drive. He is thankfully a great driver, but it is not just your child you worry about when they take the car out, but rather the maniacs they share the road with. Driving is a big deal and a mom never stops worrying about it. I cannot really sleep until I know he is home safe. Driving is a major stress point that comes with motherhood.

Last week Charlie was driving on the 405 freeway and noticed a box spring in the middle of the lane next to his. A car came up on that lane and tried to avoid hitting it, but managed to clip the box spring, and sent is flying. The airborne box spring then crashed into the front of Charlie’s car. He is lucky he did not lose control of the car, or get in an accident, or have it go through the front windshield. He was shaken but safe.

His car was totaled, but thank God he is okay. The car that he bought with his Bar Mitzvah money, the car he has treated like a baby for 6 six years, is headed to the junkyard and he is sad to see the poor girl go. I have been on edge since it happened because you just never know what can happen. Things can literally come out of nowhere and change everything. The scariest part is that you can’t prepare for it.

This weekend I bought my baby a new baby. It is not the car of his dreams, but that is a car he will buy for himself one day. I bought him a safe and reliable used car, and he is both happy and appreciative. I am counting my blessings he is okay and thankful to his old car for keeping him safe. You just never know what will happen, so be safe out there. I am counting my blessings, saying thanks, and keeping the faith.


My Mid-Life Crisis

New car gift. Clipping path included.

A few weeks ago I decided to buy a new car.  I have had my car for 10 years and even with 115000 miles logged in, she had plenty of life left in her. I am not really a car person, but it was time for me to do something special for myself, so I went with a new car. I found the perfect little car and ordered it exactly how I wanted. I hit a rough patch with the first car salesman I met, but I was set on getting a new car, so when the dealership called to right his wrong, I appreciated the effort and listened.

After going back and forth on the car, I eventually decided against it. I figured the glitches were a sign I wasn’t supposed to get it. I was going to set the car aside for a bit and revisit it another time. Then on Thursday I went to see my doctor, and two and a half years after my cancer diagnosis, there is a little situation that needs to come out. I cried for five minutes, then I sent an email to the owner of Keyes of Van Nuys, Mr. Howard Tenenbaum, who had reached out the week before.

I let Howard know what I needed to be able to pull the trigger on the car. I heard back from him the same day, letting me know he took care of everything. The Sales Manager, Lewis Cook, went above and beyond for me. He worked with my schedule and budget, making it a priority to show me the customer service Keyes strives to provide. I was treated with respect and kindness, and left the lot on Saturday with my new baby. She is beautiful and made me happy on a sad day, which is good because I ain’t got time to be sad.

Louis Venegas the Finance Manager walked me through the process quickly and with expertise. Lewis Cook kept an eye on my signing of the papers and ensured I got VIP treatment. Even Howard came in to thank me for my business. It was a great experience and I will now remember the day because of the car, not because of the medical update. The gentlemen of Keyes were wonderful, having no idea what I was going through, simply wanting my experience to be a good one. Bravo.

Tomorrow I will hit the ground running on my medical situation and get it sorted. There will be tests, and surgery, and God willing many more anniversaries to celebrate. I am fine and my life is blessed. If you pray, throw my name in if you wouldn’t mind. I will keep you posted on what is happening. I am looking forward to driving to my appointment tomorrow in my fantastic new car. It is important to look cute while you kick some ass, and I look super cute in my super cute new car.

Please note I reserve the right to continue my midlife crisis after I deal with the current pain in my ass. Surely a new car won’t be the only thing I do. Maybe I’ll jet off to Australia for dinner. Again. Maybe I will change my hair color. Again. Maybe I will adopt a dog! Maybe I will find the man of dreams. Maybe I know him already! At the end of the day I feel good and my life is blessed. I am thankful, grateful, hopeful, and keeping the faith.


UPDATE: Keyes Honda of Van Nuys

A couple of weeks ago I decided to buy a new car. I have been driving my car for 10 years, but because I work from home most of the time and take very good care of my car, it has just over 114000 miles on it. I could probably drive it for another ten years, but I just felt like having something new and shiny. I did a lot of research on what kind of car I wanted, going back and forth between a SUV, a sports car, and another sedan. After much thought I decided on a Honda.

I researched dealerships and chose to purchase my new car from Keyes Honda of Van Nuys. This past Saturday I headed to Keyes to pick out my new baby. When I got there I walked around the lot looking at different cars and after 15 minutes of nobody coming out to ask if I needed any help, I went into the dealership. I went directly to the office of the Finance Manager, a woman names Julie Warr. I explained to Julie I was there to buy a car and needed someone specific.

I was not looking to haggle, or have smoke blown up my ass. I was buying a car and needed someone experienced and professional. She asked me to hang on and went to another office. She came back with a gentleman named Andrew Wilkinson, who was introduced as a seasoned professional and Internet Manager. I introduced myself to Drew, told him what I wanted, and we went to look at cars.  I was torn between two different models and explained I was going to think it over.

I went to look at a Toyota dealership to ensure I wanted the Honda, then called Drew on the phone. I explained to him I was going with the Honda and told him the exact car I wanted. He was lovely on the phone, told me I made a good choice, and said he was going to see about locating the exact car I wanted if it wasn’t available in Van Nuys. I spoke to him at 4:33pm and was told he would call be before the end of the day.  I did not hear back from Drew on Saturday or Sunday.

Aside from being annoying and unprofessional, I also found it funny since Keyes Honda of Van Nuys spends a lot of advertising dollars on talking about their customer service. I decided I would wait until Monday evening, and if I didn’t hear from anyone I would take my business somewhere else. Then on Monday afternoon at 4:44pm I received a call from a young woman named Tanya. She was calling to see how my shopping experience was at Keyes Honda of Van Nuys.

I let her know I decided to buy a car, had spoken to Drew, and he had not bothered to call me back. She then gave me a wonderful story about how busy they were. I let her know all Drew needed to do was call and tell me he was busy and would get back to me. In fact, he could have had Tanya call and tell me that, rather than her calling to check in on how great their customer service was. When Tanya responded with another excuse, I hung up on her. Sorry. Not sorry.

Then at 5:10 pm, I got the following text message: “Greetings, Ilana. This is Drew, the Internet Manager from Keyes Honda Van Nuys. I truly apologize for not getting back to you sooner. I do value your time, and I wish you the best.”

Um, really? I was suddenly part of a bad high school break up. Was he texting because he didn’t have the balls to call? Who texts a customer? Did I get dumped by a car salesman? I was so annoyed at this point, I called to speak with the General Sales Manager. His name is Lewis Cook and I just felt he should know that not only did his staff not follow through on a guaranteed sale, but Drew dumped me without the courtesy of a call. Still no word from Mr. Lewis.

I left a message with the receptionist on Monday evening, and again on Tuesday morning, but nothing. What is a girl to do? Write a blog I guess. Important to note when I spoke to Drew on Saturday night I told him I was a writer for the Jewish Journal and would write about buying my car there and how easy the process had been. Who would have thought this would be the blog? Who could have guessed my blog would be to tell you to not bother going to Keyes Honda?

Buying a new car is a big decision and to get to the point of actually writing a check, to then have the moment ruined, is very disappointing. I thought I’d have a new car on the 4th of July, but instead I got broken up with by a car salesman and when I called his boss to kvetch about it, he valued my business even less than his employee. Keyes Honda was an epic fail and their customer service needs a lot of work. I’ll find another dealership. Will they want my business? I am keeping the faith.


After 4 days without a call to follow up on a guaranteed sale, and after my blog posted today, I heard from Drew at Keyes Honda of Van Nuys. He sent me this email:

Ilana. I read your blog. Obviously, it was not my intent to have an “epic” fail. Before Tanya even spoke with me, I had your numbers, however, I did not want to call you after 22:00 the previous night. I spoke with Tanya, and she told me you were very upset, did not want to talk to me, and planned on taking your business elsewhere. You mentioned being dumped in the blog–that’s how I felt when Tanya relayed the message to me. However, I understood you felt insulted and I at least wanted to apologize for that, as that was not my intent. I did not think my name and company would be highlighted in a negative way. Once again, I apologize for not getting back to you sooner, and I wish you the best.
Sincerely, Andrew Wilkinson

Where do I begin? He didn’t call me for 4 days because he thought I dumped him? He didn’t call me back because a receptionist said not to? He is blaming me for not getting a call back? I told Tanya if he was not interested in my business he didn’t need to call me back. How she translated that is not important. What is important is that he never called, then sent this ridiculous email which is embarrassing not only for himself, but for Honda. It is fascinating to me this was his response.

About 10 minutes after I received the email, I got a phone call from an executive at Keyes Honda. His name was Howard (can’t remember his last name) and he started the conversation by saying he was mortified by my experience at his dealership. He apologized and said all the things one would expect, including asking me to give them another chance and not post the email from Andrew.

Here’s the thing, I have been writing here about my life with truth and fearlessness for almost a decade, so of course I am going to share the email. Especially after so many of you wrote me with your own customer service stories and recommendations for a car dealership. I am updating you because we are in this together. You are my people.

Howard assured me he wanted to give me the type of customer service they pride themselves on, and would call me next week when he was back from vacation with his family. Listen, it was nice of him to call while on vacation. He may call next week as he said, or if he is like his sales staff, he won’t. Either way, I appreciated the call. I write a blog and I told Drew as much. There was no ambush or unethical writing here. I write a blog about life and this happened. I was never not going to update you.

My advice to any car dealership is to be kind and respectful of everyone that comes in. Buying a car is a big deal and Keyes is not going to suck the joy out of the experience for me. To people looking to buy a car, we work hard for our money and if the person you are talking to about a new car does not respect you and your money, buy your car from someone else. Enjoy the process and leave with a smile on your face. The right dealership is going to make the experience fun. Don’t settle and find someone who values you and how hard you’ve worked for that car. There are a lot of dealerships and a lot of cars out there. Find the right one.