Miss Manners: I hate when the mechanic changes my car settings

Dear Miss Manners: It happened AGAIN last week for the umpteenth time: I took my car in for service at a dealership that prides itself on customer service. I waited in the very comfortable lounge until the job was done, paid the invoice, got out and got into a sparkling clean car that had just been washed as part of the service.

I had driven less than a block when I realized the seat was out of adjustment. At the first corner I looked in the outside rear view mirror only to find the mirror had been removed from its cradle giving me a view of blue sky.

When I looked down at the dash to see how much gas I had left, the reading changed from “fuel range” to “odometer”. Most disappointing of all, the radio I had left on a classical station was now blasting hard rock.

This is MY car and MY personal space. I share a home with others; I share a workspace with others; when I go to the cinema, I share this space with others (and sometimes they are very rude). My car is my personal sanctuary.

This almost always happens when I take my car in for any kind of service, whether it’s a dealership, service garage, or even a car wash. It makes me feel the same way I did when I got home to find a home invasion in progress. These people are invading my space and I resent it.

It should be possible for the mechanic to take the car around the block without changing every setup to suit their needs since they’ll be behind the wheel in less than 10 minutes. If they wish to listen to the radio while working, I don’t mind as long as it is turned back to the original station before it is returned to me.

If I’m not completely off base, how do I approach this in a polite and respectful way?

One is always free to talk to management, a principle Miss Manners stands by, even if the explosion of online customer reviews tests its limits.

Since this dealership prides itself on customer service, note that you won’t be the only one who has noticed, thankfully, if they’ve taken care to return the vehicle’s settings to the way they found them – when no other service center will makes it.

Dear Miss Manners: Please tell me the right way to be noticed when standing at the office counter waiting for service. I don’t want to be rude and clear my throat, nor wait 15-20 minutes for staff to attend to me.

The way to get spotted while on the move: Look around, lean over the counter to see if you missed something, go to one side and then the other.

Miss Manners advises that you do this politely, with the most innocent, inquisitive expression – not rudely, with stomping feet, grunting and constant checks of your watch.

New Miss Manners columns are published Monday through Saturday on washingtonpost.com/advice. You can send questions to Miss Manners on her website, missmanners.com. You can also follow her @RealMissManners.