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How I Cheated Death Today While Also Getting an Oil Change

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oil thingI consider myself about 80% responsible, 15% childish/purposely negligent and maybe 5% naive about tasks that I actually should be paying attention to.

In my Responsible bucket, I’ve got things like, scheduling kids’ doctor’s appointments, being on time to school/work, leaving my house with my makeup and hair done at nearly all times. Wearing heels also gives me bonus Responsible points, for some reason, although I personally have zero problem with flats.

I am learning that I’m totally naive about things like cleaning my gutters, pillow washing and caulking seams near sinks. I also completely ignore polishing my jewelry.

But there’s a glaring area in my life where I’m famous for being completely negligent and childish. True confession: It’s my car. For some reason, I’m able to fathom safe-driving techniques, gasoline, and well-maintained and current insurance and registration. I even spring for car washes sometimes to ensure I can actually see out of my windows.

But when it comes to maintaining my car? I can’t stand it. I act as though it’s a personal insult to my time and wallet to even consider getting an oil change, rotating my tires or refilling the windshield fluid. When I get a burned out headlight, I’m grumpy for days. THE GALL OF THAT BULB! It’s not like it’s on all the time like those Walmart trucks!

I recently surpassed the 9,000 mile mark since my last oil change and was feeling incredibly guilty about my childish decision to ignore it.

Internal monologue: If I drive faster will the car need less oil? Fast driving = thinner oil = more oily coverage on my engine pieces?

If I crank the AC up, will the some of the coolness inside my car waft through the car’s body and help keep the engine cool too? A cool engine = no smoke = car is fine.

I know. There’s probably no chance that I’ll be featured on Top Gear anytime soon. Unless there’s a special “Car Idiots” segment. Most likely on the US version. (Waves to my Twitter pal, Rutledge Wood, who once replied to one of my tweets forever ago. #KindaTwitterFamous #NotReally.)

So, on my lunch break today, I rolled into a local oil change place that happens to be directly across the street from, surprise, another local oil change place. The place I lumbered into seems to change it’s name every week, but it was close-ish to my work, open for business and didn’t have any of those inflatable arm guys that I find super-annoying. I’m always afraid they’re blousey arms will blow toward my car and I’ll accidentally drive over it. No, thank you.

I’m having trouble describing the terror that grips my heart as I’m guided into the oil change bay by a guy who can walk backwards, signal me with both hands, and watch where ALL FOUR OF MY TIRES are rolling at the same time. There’s a gaping hole under my car! And it’s not empty! If my car careens out of control and I fall in, I’d be killing an actual man! There’s a human in there who has to see cars drive over him on a daily basis. ::shudder:: I can barely handle it.

Also, why do my tires always seem to be woefully screaming in agony as I slowly roll into position?

When the professional car guider signals me to “go a little right” I always seem to overreact. I slam on my brakes and wait for the darkness to come as I’m sure I’m about to spiral into the arms of Jesus. I yank on my steering wheel, determined to be the BEST “go-a-little-righter” EVER and this results in me turning the wheel 100% too far.

“Go a little to your left” is the next agonizing hand signal that ALWAYS follows.

::STOP! hand signals:: Those ones are my favorite. With a sweaty grip, I throw the car into park and fumble with my keys.

Do I turn my car off or leave it on? Is it rude to roll up my window? Hearing that mysterious voice under my car makes me all nervous again.

Phew. Hand-signal guy just came to my car and asked me to turn off the ignition. I already feel safer because 1) I’ve been given clear and specific instructions and 2) He used the word “ignition” which is a professional car word, so this place must be legit. I relax for a moment and my shoulders drop a centimeter down from where they’ve been frozen next to my ears.

Oh great. He’s just asked me to pop the hood. I get all panicky as I know everyone is waiting on me to remember where that little lever is. I mean, I own this car, I should know this. But for that small fraction of time, I completely panic and I’m sure that instead of the hood popping, I’ll find a secret lever, like that one with the emergency brake, that sends my car rolling into that dangerous pit below me. OH! There it is! ::POP::

It’s the best sound of success I’ve heard all day.

What? They’re asking me what type of OIL I want? Um, the brown kind? The stuff that came from the meat-eating dinosaurs — I’m sure their oil is more greasy and slippery. Those are both good qualities to have when it comes to automotive lubricant, I’ve heard.

Oh perfect. Here’s the part where they ask me if I want an oil cleaning flush thing. I picture my car getting a fancy oil-holder-colonoscopy and think that even though it is an extra $10, I like the idea of her being all clean as a whistle. It sounds like a very responsible thing to splurge for. Much better than the Target tee I’d probably blow that $10 on during my next stop in for raspberries and Red Bull.

I agree to the fancy, internal auto-purging and instantly feel like a fancy car-lady. Makin’ it rain down dollahs at the oil change place, ya Grease Monkeys! Oh crap. Is that a racist slur? God, I should absolutely NOT BE HERE. I just can’t handle this responsibility like a normal human.

Oil-change-maître d’ comes back to my half-rolled up/half-rolled down window and says, “It’s been a little while since your last oil change…”This prompts an embarrassing apology/stream of excuse words from my mouth that no one wants to hear.

Forgive me Automotive Professional, for I have sinned. It’s been 9,032 miles since my last oil change. I’ve been busy, broke and focused on vehicle vanities such as car washes and vehicle vacuum treatments. Please don’t tell my dad. You won’t right? He’s gonna be so pissed! He has this tight-lipped, sigh thing he does that’s usually followed by a high-elevation eye roll. Oh! Yeah, like that…

He meanders away and disappears behind my open hood. He instructs me to turn my car on, then off, then on again, then off. I feel myself growing more and more confident about the process until he appears at my awkwardly half-down window again and tells me about some random cracked serpentine-belt-thingy he wanted to be sure to point out so I could go get it replaced.

I hope my nodding looks convincing as I start to wonder just how good Super Glue would do in a warmish environment. Not the regular stuff, but the EXTRA-STRENGTH stuff. I accidentally glued my fingers together the other day and started thinking about what Paralympic sport I could have a chance in. This was my new cross to bear. I would forever be known as the “Girl Whose Two Fingers On Her Right Hand Were Tragically Bound Together. Forever.” My new nickname could be “Sticky Z”. #BeautyFromAshes

Super-Gluing things is another responsibility that I usually try and pawn off on the closest adult male. You–penis? Here–Broken thing that needs magic, sticky stuff put on it in these super-exact places. Good luck avoiding the potential calamity of becoming a glued up cripple.

FAST-DRYING? What the hell was I thinking? Sure, I can give birth to two humans with no drugs and concoct ways to feed them with my VERY BODY but handle a tiny, child-sized bottle of clear, sticky liquid? It’s just too much. I’m so sorry, humans of the female sex. I just can’t. I. Just. Can’t. Even. Super Glue.

As I pull out of the oil change corral, I experience all the joys of driving over the giant Pit of Doom, as I did 10 minutes earlier, except this time, I’m also worried about the hand-signal guy accidentally walking backwards into traffic.

He waves good bye and I immediately breathe a sigh of relief and thank God I survived to live another day.

See ya in 9,032 miles, guys!

::tires screeching::