In preparation to take a dear friend to the temple for the first time ever, I desperately wanted to get an oil change. That, and I had put it off for so long, I thought my car would cough up dust before we made it to our destination. Those new fangled lights and sounds that warn you of low tire pressure, low oil life etc, kind of make me anxious... to the point I want to jump out the door while driving, but the beeping warning of a door ajar makes me back off the ledge.
Because we have a lease, I like to get the oil changed at the dealership we got the car. When I called that morning, there was no availability to even squeeze me in for an oil change. Rather than chance it, I decided to go to another mechanic and give it a shot. Upon looking at the prices for an oil change, I looked wordlessly at the mechanic, turned around and went back to my car. I took a deep breath and walked back into the office. The clerk's raised eyebrows at my second arrival needed no explanation.
After a deep breath I finally sputtered out, "Whysooooexpensive?!" The patient/patronizing (he danced an awful lot between those two in this whole interaction) clerk stated that my oil was a special synthetic oil- so it cost more. I was willing to open up my trunk and make something "synthetic" out of whatever remained there from Kate's snacks, groceries, windshield wiping fluid, old socks- whatever! Anything to avoid the extreme cost of this oil change. In front of the man waiting patiently at the service desk, I proceeded to call my dealership and ask if I needed, really needed synthetic oil. Yes, I did call one dealership from another to try and negotiate a lower price. No, it did not work- I wasn't buying a car... you can't negotiate a lower oil change price through intimidation... unless you're a one Stephanie Graham!
As I balked rather unabashedly at the price, the (patronizing now) clerk flippantly said, "If you want to go to your dealership and pick up the oil and come back we'll do the change for twenty bucks."
Game. Set. Match.
So, I hopped jubilantly back in the car and started to dial the Honda dealership...the dealership I had already talked to three times that morning. And instead of continuing with the number I now knew by heart, I hung up and popped on over to the jiffy lube across the street. I was glib. (Yes, I used that word... mostly in honor of the news flying around about TomKat lately) When the clerk at jiffy lube quoted me a price $30 more than at the previous shop- the lustre had started to fade- then, no!- I'll just go to the auto part store and buy the stuff I need! In a drive that took no more than five minutes, I had made up my mind and had returned to my previous glib-ness. The pride in my heart over my brilliance had just nearly floored me.
Walking into the auto part store with such gait makes many do stupid things. Not me. I went straight to the oil- excuse me, synthetic oil- aisle and grabbed exactly what I needed. When brought back to the purchasing desk, I was sure to ask at least twice that this was indeed the proper oil for my car. Two associates answered in the affirmative. I nearly skipped back out with the oil and oil filter. If my calculations were correct, after the price of the booty just acquired, I would save almost $30!!! I'm the shiz... that's right, I said it.
When I returned to the first mechanic and nonchalantly dropped two huge bottles of dang expensive oil on the desk, my face could not have split into a bigger smile. The clerk raised those stupid eyebrows at me again. Then after a long pause said, "Is this the oil they gave you?" In a kid who just snuck an oreo from cookie jar grin, I responded, "yep. I know the owner of the dealership- he takes good care of me." Now, in my mind I hadn't lied. There was sufficient space between my first and second sentence to be understood like this: Yes, they- meaning the auto part store- gave the oil. Pause. I know the owner of the dealership, he would never question my oil. He just sighed and said, "Okay." in a clippish kind of way. Almost like a parent that sees oreo crumbs in their child's teeth.
Because of that clippish way in which the clerk responded to my obvious nom de plume, I continued to dig myself a rather deep hole by tossing around other things I knew about the owner of the car dealership. I carpool with his wife. I call him by his informal first name. I think I might have even mentioned the dog's name. And that we might dog sit sometimes. And lost their dog...
You know, all things that created a foolproof and credible character map of myself. After talking slower and steadily quietly, I just gave up and sat down. I could not contain the bliss at my frugal stealthiness. When the mechanic called the make, model and year that represented my car, I nearly bounced my way over to snatch my keys. The thrill at my OPERATION: Synthetic Oil had nearly engulfed me. Then as I bebopped around town to get some last minute errands done, I had a serious flashback.
Almost like the way a movie montage plays across the screen, I saw the menacing eyebrows of that patronizing clerk. Over and over. Closer and closer. Like a zoom in and jaws music to match.
Then, it hit me. That was the wrong oil! Wait, no! It couldn't be... I asked twice. It was synthetic. It was a cool silver bottle. There is no way I got the oil wrong- no way!
So, with my tail so quickly between my legs I drove my car to Jimmy's work and proceeded to freak out. He came out to the car and we searched together in the car manual to find the proper oil to use. My fingers were shaking- for just cause, people... I. used. the. wrong. freaking. oil.
The next step in this almost too crazy to be real story, I had Jimmy call the dealership. I refused to talk to them. I did not, however, refuse to jump around in front of a calm, steady husband (while on the phone with the person of whom I lost a beloved pet!) trying to explain myself. Jimmy got off the phone with a grim face. My jumping ceased. I wanted the earth to swallow me up. The emotional roller coaster from defiance to triumph to being confounded then hysterical were taking a serious toll on my well being.
Jimmy's grim expression seemed to last for an eternity until he smiled and said, "It's fine. But don't make a habit of using that oil. The car is brand new, it will be okay. They just said to never go to another shop for your oil changes."
The relief was so pure that it gave me time to wipe the chocolate crumbs off my very glib face.