Friday after work I swung by our local Valvoline to have my oil changed. Not mine, my car’s. Going for any auto maintenance or repair always stresses me out, so I usually put it off until I can actually hear the grinding and knocking over the Pantera blasting from my speakers. It only took 13 postcards from GM for me to finally take care of the recall issue on my old car, and even then only the specter of being chastised for my laziness when I traded in the car made me bring it in for service. Not the threat of my steering column blowing up and setting my face on fire, which was what caused the recall in the first place.
Do I even need to tell you I was overdue for this oil change?
First, both bays were busy servicing cars, so I rolled up my mental sleeves and got to work worrying about which lane I should enter. If I got into the wrong lane, somebody else could pull up and be serviced faster in the other lane. This could make me miss the next Mother Angelica on the Eternal Word Television Network! If I sat in the middle, hogging both lanes, someone could pull up behind me and honk or curse at me, both of which are the kind of interactions I try to avoid as much as crazy people who shout at me, “Hey lady! Do you have a thousand children? Hey lady! Do you live in a shoe?” Which really happened on the street recently. But I digress.
Luckily, one of the attendants soon waved me in. Next the part of my brain that obsesses over finances kicked in. What if they used the wrong oil and voided my warranty? I shouldn’t have been so cheap. I should have gone to the Honda dealership. Now my transmission would explode during my next commute to work; a technician would examine the damage, shake his head, and drawl, “Too bad you used 5w30 oil and voided your warranty. This’ll be pricey. But don’t worry. Selling yourself into human bondage at a Turkish brothel should cover it.”
Then I had to steel myself to deal with the various products, upgrades, and services they try to pitch. (I ended up with a new wiper blade and air filter, but I held the line at the synthetic oil upgrade and “Just Married” commemorative cans.) And THEN, while you’re sitting there in your car as they build Lego forts in your engine, you have to worry about how to keep busy yet available to answer questions. Where do you aim your eyes? You can’t just STARE at them while they work. That seems weird and intrusive. And if you stare straight ahead into space you look like you’re having a flashback to the day you watched your beloved grandmother be torn apart limb-from-limb while trying to buy the last "Hump Me Elmo" at Wal-Mart the day after Thanksgiving.
I failed to bring a book or magazine, so I pretended to balance my checkbook. I also rummaged around my purse cataloguing items I was surprised to be carrying: hairspray, face blotter papers, a gingerbread house, a jumbo can of sauerkraut. I organized my coupons, making a tiny pile on the passenger seat of those that had expired. Sure $25 off hip replacement surgery is an attractive deal, but I found the idea of having my hips replaced by a doctor who prints coupons a bit unsettling. So into the bad pile it went.
And finally you get to the part where they show you your new oil level on the dipstick. This is funny to me because let's face it. It could just be a long stick of incense…it could be as dry as a Steven Wright routine … they could have simply dipped the stick into a vat of Soul Glow or dredged it through the toilet oilslick from an ingested bag of WOW! Chips and I’d nod, smile, and say, “Yep. Looks good, thanks.”
I’m sure the Valvoline guys find this part hilarious. Anyway, I’m good for another three months. Unless the “Maint. Req'd” light doesn’t stop flashing on my dashboard.