Don’t Give Me That Look

I am a responsible adult. That means that I get the oil changed in my car regularly. Though regularly may be up for interpretation, I shoot for every 5,000 miles. My car turned over 50,000 miles and even with my mathematical limitations, I knew it was time.

As I type this, I’m taken back to the time, lo those many years ago, when I first drove by myself to get my oil changed at a quick-service center. Driving over a large hole with a person waiting in said hole was a little nerve-wracking. The guy waving me in like I was driving a 747 seemed unaffected by the potential disaster that my car careening into that hole would cause. To his credit, his confidence in me was not misplaced.  I tried to act nonchalant, but it was a proud moment. Just another day.

But this time when I pulled up I encountered someone who had hand signals of his own making. First he did the come straight ahead signal with both hands extended and fingers moving toward his palms. Then he waved me a little to the right. Then briefly back to the first signal. Then he did this thing that was like he was imitating a butterfly with his hands fluttering towards each other and then away. I, of course, stopped. I figured he must be messing with the guy down in the pit or chasing a mosquito. He then yelled for me to pull forward.

When he reached my window, I told him I wasn’t quite sure what he wanted me to do. To that he replied, “First time, huh.”

Because he was going to be fooling around under my car’s hood, I decided to let that one go. I turned off my engine and pulled out my phone. That was a mistake. He said he needed my mileage. I looked at my dark dashboard. I wondered if I turned my car on if I would rip the hands off of the guy under my car.

You know how you can turn your key to the left for battery power? Of course you do. You’re no idiot. The problem for me is that I have a push-button ignition and in the 4.5 years that I’ve owned this car I’ve turned on battery power maybe once. And that was by accident.

So then I had to look at this joker and tell him I didn’t know how to find that information for him without starting my car. He gave me a look like this was my second strike. I was beginning to feel self-conscious so I blurted out, “This really is my car.”

He then very nicely told me what to do. I gave him the exact mileage and he walked away while I tried to figure out how to turn off the battery power without, once again, starting my car and then abruptly turning it off, all the while wondering if I could really hurt somebody (and I’m not talking about the guy who waved me in). I decided that it didn’t matter if it was on. If my battery went dead, somebody there would give me a jump.

The story has a happy ending. Nobody was hurt during my routine oil change. I didn’t fall in the hole. My battery didn’t fail me. I didn’t smack the young man who asked me for my mileage. Plus, when I got home I checked in with my engineer to see if my anxiety about turning my car on was justified. He said I could have hurt somebody if his hand was in the wrong place and I turned on the car. I think he was pretty proud of me for not causing any injuries that day. So proud that he said next time he’d be happy to get my oil changed for me.

 

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