Most of the mundane chores of life are fairly self-perpetuating. If I don’t do laundry, we don’t have clean clothes to wear. If I don’t cook, there’s nothing to eat. If I don’t occasionally throw the kids into the shower, one assumes that CPS would eventually show up on my doorstep. Things like that.
If I don’t change the oil in my car, well, the car continues to run. And perhaps Otto lectures me about how my driving habits mean I really need to be vigilant about changing the oil regularly, and then I change the subject. (Or maybe I say “Well, clearly YOU will be in charge of car maintenance, and I will be in charge of [redacted]! That’ll be fair!” And then Otto will point out that it’s too bad I can’t blog that because it was funny, and I will offer to blog it in a fashion that leaves the readers to imagine something much worse than what I actually said, because that’s always fun.)
Anyway, I’ve been MEANING to get the oil changed in my car. Pinky swear. I just hadn’t gotten around to it, because I have more important things to do, like read every label at the grocery store so that I can accomplish my shopping within a six-hour timeframe.
I had one of those little reminder sticker thingies, too, and when I passed the recommended mileage I took it off the window. Because that… um… made it less true that I was overdue for my oil change. Obviously.
And then a week or two ago I actually got a $10 coupon postcard in the mail from one of those quick-lube places, the final signal that I needed to get it done. I had worked my way onto the “we haven’t seen you in forever so either you’ve found another greasemonkey to love or you’re the sort of idiot who hasn’t had her oil changed in a year” list. Oh, the shame.
So. Today. Today! Today I went to get my oil changed! And I was very pleased with myself. I patted the dashboard and told my car that I was taking good care of her.
Well, I should’ve known I was in trouble right when I pulled into the work bay. The technician who’d guided me in via a series of hand signals now told me to turn off the car and pop the hood. I turned off the car and popped the little door that covers my gas cap.
I found the hood release, finally, and I wanted to get out of the car and close the fuel door, but the OTHER technician (the one who was typing my information into the computer, because I hadn’t been there in so long, the computer had forgotten me) told me it would be a safety hazard for me to get out. I was advised to stay in the car.
So I stayed in the car, and flipped open the book I had with me. I’d be perfectly happy with 10 minutes to read.
Except, I was not allowed to read. Rather, I was allowed to read in 30-second increments. They kept asking me things. And forcing me to make decisions. My favorite was the clipboard with the different oil options. Did I want the sad, basic oil? Oh, mind you, it’s perfectly good oil, yes, but it gets the smallest picture, the smallest amount of copy, and looks altogether uninteresting.
But! Move up just one notch, and you’re at a partial synthetic with a much more jovial picture, and more lines about its oily wonderfulness. Tempting, to be sure.
And then, of course, there’s the Cadillac of oils. Full synthetic! Able to leap tall buildings in a single bound! It practically has a Harry Potter-esque animated picture, complete with an explanation of how this oil will keep your car running even beyond the Apocalypse. This is the oil for people who love truth, justice and the American Way.
I picked the basic oil.
I’d just found my place in my book again when Technician 2 came to talk to me about my coolant.
Oh, did you think the oil change was just about OIL? Neophyte. Once you roll in there for an oil change they’re entitled to mock you about any fluid in your car. If your automobile is in impeccable working order, they’ll probably just insult your choice of gasoline.
My coolant, you see, is too acidic. I know this because of a little test strip he held up against a chart. My test strip was bright orange, meaning either that my car is pregnant or that the coolant is more acidic than it should be. (I think pregnancy is a better option, particularly because it would be awesome if my car just up and spit out a Mini one day.)
Anyway, they wanted to know if I’d had my scheduled coolant flush on the car at 30,000 miles. I didn’t actually OWN this car when it was at 30,000 miles, but I assured him that it had been flushed. Yes sir, I’m sure everything is fine, no need to flush it again. Oh, well then, it’s probably nothing, he said. Even though a minute earlier he was trying to convince me to pay for a coolant flush.
Moral of the oil change story: Just get in, get your basic oil, and get out. If you open your mind to the possibility of more, you’ll be driving out of there with a rebuilt engine. And really, your car is probably fine, even if you did go 6,000 miles since your last oil change.
But don’t go 6,000 between oil changes. That would be bad for your car and wrong, and you’ll find yourself offering [redacted] to someone more car-savvy to keep track of your auto maintenance from now on just so that it doesn’t happen again.