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Special Feature: Max and the Miniature Schnauzer

MaxAbout a month ago, we had a very memorable call from a guy named Max. Max owns a car dealership in southern California. And he called us to discuss his problem. Not a car problem, a schnauzer problem. Max's story went on for 15 minutes and turned out to be the canine equivalent of the "Alice's Restaurant Massacre," minus the four-part harmony.

We've had so many requests for this story that we had our Car Talk Lackeys transcribe our phone call with Max, and have included the full story here, in all its canine splendor--although it's not quite the same without Max's magnificent German accent.

(By the way, if you're a purist and want to hear the actual call, tapes of the show with Max and the Schnauzer are available in our Shameless Commerce Division. It's Program # 9610.)

Enjoy the story here or listen to the RealAudio clip, which happens to be a Car Talk Moment. I'm sure it'll be a cold day in Bel Air before we hear another one like this.

Max and the Schnauzer
Car Talk
March 9, 1996

(To be read in your finest German/Jewish accent...)

Max: This Maxmillan from Valencia, California. I am listening to your program and I think that you guys are the Mensch. I have a problem.

Ray: "What did you say about our stench? I didn't get all that!"

Tom: "And if we can't solve it, our audience can solve it--because what? They're the ones with the brains and we're the morons."

Max: I have been in the car business all my life. And last Friday the 13th I had a problem. My sales guys stand in the driveway waiting for customers. I see one of my salesmen jump onto his bike and take off like crazy. An old woman who had just bought a new Camry is driving by, and "BANG!" He hits her front bumper.

Tom: Heh heh heh heh heh heh.

Max: My God! What an unlucky day. I run out to help my salesman and the woman says, "My God! I just bought this car!" And I say, "Well, ma'am you could have just killed my salesman." She say, "I know. I know. I wasn't watching." She was so honest. "The salesman didn't show me how to turn on the air conditioning. It's 100 degrees and I'm trying to find the air conditioner, and "BANG!"

Tom: Heh heh heh heh heh.

Max: Now she thought that she hit him! I know that he hit her. I relax and say, "Thanks, God!" I say, "Ma'am, you're so honest, I will take care of you. We have a big body shop here. We'll put on a new bumper for you. I like your honesty, that you said you weren't watching." See, I saw how my stupid salesman wasn't watching when he took off.

I take the car to the body shop and call Rick. I tell Rick, "We'll put on a new bumper and put four screws in and that'll be that and it'll be the end of the story."

The woman tells me, "Max, I'm going across the street to go shopping while you fix the bumper." I say, "Great idea!"

So, she goes across the street. Poor woman didn't know that the body shop closes at 6:00 pm. Eight-thirty she shows up with 20 bags! She's looking around--and no car! The body shop is closed and there's nobody there.

Ray: "I got it! I got it! She buys a new car from George!"

Max: No, no, listen to this. It's a true story. I have a problem, guys. I take my keys to the body shop and and run down there and open this huge metal door and what do I see? They pushed 35 cars behind her car. I go to the back seat of the car, I see a cage with a little Schnauzer.

And he's dead.

Tom: Uh oh. No!

Max: He's dead. With his legs up. I started sweating, my heart starts beating! This stupid body shop guy put the car next to the paint booth with everything locked. it's one hundred and ten degrees in there, with all those paint fumes! Great, I think, that's all I need now!

Part II

I'm lucky, I've worked twenty five years in Valencia. I know everyone. Right away I go to the phone and I call a customer of mine who has a pet shop, and I say, "Joe. I have a big problem. I just killed a schauzer in my body shop." He said, "Max I like you. If I had a schnauzer I'd give you one. But, I don't have one. So, he goes to his computer and starts locating breeders.

Ray: "Yeah, a schnauzer search."

Max: He says, "Max, you're lucky. Twenty miles from here there's a German breeder in Acton. The computer shows he's got 12 Schnauzers!"

I take the car 300 miles an hour to this breeder and put the schauzer on the table and I say....

Tom: "Hans--match 'em up!"

Max: I say, "Hans, I need a miniature schauzer like this one.

Tom: Heh heh heh heh heh heh.

Max: He says, "Max, you're in the wrong place. I do have 12, but those 12 I have are champions. Purebreed. I bring them over from Germany. I have all the certificates. This new miniature schnauzer will cost you between $1,500 to $2,000 apiece.

I say, "What??!!!" I counted every pocket, I had three hundred and seventy five dollars. I say, "Hans, I don't need a champion. I just want to replace this dead one."

He goes to his backyard and comes with this miniature Schnauzer. He says, "Max, you're lucky. He's a year old. He's house trained. I don't have a certificate for him. I'll give him to you "as is" for $275."

Ray: "What? No warranty?"

Tom: Heh heh heh heh heh.

Max: No, no warranty. "As is." I say "Great" and give him the money. He takes the dead one and puts it in box. I take the live one and put it in a cage, and I drive right down to the dealership.

I get to the dealership and say, "Thanks, God!" The woman is waiting in the dealership and I say, "Honey, here're your keys, here's your car, let me help you with all the stuff you bought."

She says, "Max. I don't want help. I've had it today! She takes the stuff, she goes to the car, she looks in the front window, turns away, looks in again, she throws down all the stuff she's holding in her arms and comes back to the showroom screaming, "Max! This is not my dog!"

I say, "What dog?"

She says, "Max, don't play games with me. If you won't get me my dog right away I'll call the police and you'll have a big problem. Max, when I drove in here I had a dead dog in my car."

Tom: Heh heh heh heh heh heh heh heh heh heh heh heh.

Ray: Heh heh heh heh heh heh heh heh heh heh heh heh.

Part III

Max: I said, "I have your dead dog. I thought they killed him in the body shop." We drove back to Hans and we saw her dog lying in the box and she says, "Max, you're lucky he still has my dog." Now, I don't know whether to laugh or to cry! She takes the dead dog and wants to take off.

But, I have to ask what happened.

She says, "Max, I never had any children. This dog is 17 years and 3 months old. And this morning I went to the bedroom and the dog was dead. I called my sister, and told her that Snoopy died." Her sister says, "What do you want? He's almost eighteen years old, he's completely blind. The time came--thanks, God! You got rid of him."

Her sister tells her to take the dog to Thousand Oaks, where they have a dog hospital. They'll freeze Snoopy and stuff him, and he looks alive and you'll have him forever in your bedroom. So, she took the dog and dropped by to pick up the car, and that's how it happened.

Part IV

So, now I'm here with Hans the breeder, with this live dog, trying to give him back. And Hans has this sign that says, "No Refunds." He says, "Max, I'm running a business. Dead dog or no dead dog, you own this schnauzer."

I say, "Fine. I'll leave it in consignment. Give me half the money."

Guess what? This Friday I get a note from Hans that he wants $75 a week to feed him! Now I have to pay him!

So here's the help I need. I need a good home for this good little schauzer. He's a good dog. One year old. But no paperwork.

Tom: Okay, this is a business we haven't started yet. We've matched up some people before, but never something like this.

Ray: You could give it to the old woman. This one could play with the other one. Wouldn't be too exciting, though.

Max: It's no joke.

Ray: I know it's no joke. You know why? Because you couldn't have possibly made up a story like this.

Max: I really want this dog to have a good home. You know, the whole story is sad in a way.

Ray: You're a good guy, Max, and you tell a good story.

Tom: We'll work on a name. His name should be Max. Okay, so we're looking for a home for little Max.

Max: Okay, thanks for talking with you.

Tom: Bye bye, Max!

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