Every two weeks, on a Friday evening…come rain or come shine, (it’s almost always the former) I make the three-hour round trip from my home to bring the boys to their dad’s. Every two weeks, we pack the largest suitcase you can imagine with every boy-toy from boy-central…because Heaven forbid they have to go for two days without
- The Nintendo Wii Game System
- Taylor’s computer
- Their iPods
Last-minute-items, such as clothing and toothbrushes...are sometimes forgotten completely in lieu of the important stuff.
Because Heaven forbid…
One of the (many) hazards of negotiating singular adult life after a marriage ends is the possible dropping-of-the-ball on responsibilities previously assigned to the male counterpart of the duo.
Now, before you ladies get all feminist on me, you need to understand:
- I do electrical (well)
- I do plumbing ("eh…")
- “I can bring home the bacon…fry it up in a pan…and never, never let you forget you’re a man…’cause I’m a WO-MAN…”
Ahem….sorry. Please accept my sincere apologies for spontaneously breaking into song before 8am. (Yes, that’s when I’m writing this…I must really love you guys…or somethin’.)
I just don’t DO cars…
Or, I didn’t.
Now, I’m starting to realize that I have to. I’ve had a very (teeny-tiny-miniscule-so-small-as-to-be-almost-non-existent) slow leak in one of my tires for….like, ever. Rather than deal with taking the car in for repairs, I’d chosen “option deux”…before driving any distance, we have to hit the Mobil station and pay 50 cents to fill up the left front tire. It’s become part of our every-other-Friday cycle…pack up, fill the tire with air, hit the road. We save all our quarters just for this purpose. I’ve basically become a prisoner to an air machine that only takes quarters. So, this is now the new bane of my existence. I probably could have gone on like this indefinitely, but as the boys were filling their dad in on my movements, I’d recently received an earful on the merits of servicing one’s car in a timely, responsible, adult fashion.
I will admit to you, my faithful readers, that this lecture alone was not enough to motivate me to make an official “appointment” to get the car serviced. The real kicker was the fact that my brakes have been making a loud, obnoxious and ridiculously long squeak ever since I had them done…I wanna say, a year ago. I’d stopped into the car place several times when I was in the area (on my way to somewhere else, obviously) and the manager, Pete, would always say the same thing: “We’re swamped. It’s gonna be at least an hour.” And, I’m outta there till the next time I stop in, when we repeat this conversation yet again, with the same inevitable outcome.
When my neighbor mentioned the other day that she can tell every time I come down our hill by the incessant s-q-u-e-a-k of my car, I was just mortified enough to call Pete and arrange to bring it in.
“Thursday morning. 8am”, says Pete. Adds an incredulous “Are you sure?” to my remark that I’ve stopped in four times to try and get the brakes to un-squeak…and “oh, yeah…then there’s the whole tire-going-flat thing,” I add.
“Riiiight….” Says Pete.
So, I have my appointment at Midas. Or Mavis…or is it Maaco? Why exactly are there so many car places with the same first letter? Does anyone else find this confusing besides me? And, what’s with the mattress companies? Serta, Sealy, Simmons, Sterns & Foster…(or is the latter a brokerage company?...wait...I think that's Bear Stearns.)
8am becomes 8:30am by the time I get there. I figure they’re never on time to get me OUT…why should I worry about being late getting it IN? Pete’s eyes light up when I walk in as he realizes that he does indeed remember me blowing in and back out again on several occasions. All I’m thinking is “Wow….I’d forgotten how blue Pete’s eyes are.
My car is taken in immediately….STAT. I settle in for the duration, ever-present laptop booting up and cell already ringing…
Every 15 minutes or so, Pete checks in with a status.
“Your rear brakes are low,” says Pete. I scowl in response. He goes away.
“Your left front rim is bent,” says Pete.
“Why?” I ask.
“Dunno,” says Pete.
"Does it matter? I mean...can I drive it that way?" I ask.
"Sure...I guess. You obviously have been..." says Pete.
I have no response for this. He goes away.
“Your rear tires are choppy,” says Pete.
My eyes jerk up from my screen…the nigglings of anxiety twisting in my stomach. “Choppy tires” is never a good thing…right?
“What? Define ‘choppy tires,’” I say.
“They’re wearing more around the edges. When’s the last time you rotated them?” he asks.
“Rotated what?” I ask. The guy sitting next to me snickers. I shoot him a quick scowl.
“Your tires,” says Pete patiently.
“Uh,” I answer.
“Oh,” says Pete. He punches numbers into his handy-dandy computer and I know I’m going to regret what comes next, as I realize he's got all my car info on record in there.
“Your car had 50,000 miles on it when we put new tires on. Now you’ve got 76,000. You should rotate the tires every 5,000-10,000 miles,” and he fixes me with those baby-blues.
“Crap,” I mutter under my breath. The guy sitting next to me snickers again.
“You’ve never rotated them…have you?” the guy murmers out of the corner of his mouth, just low enough for me to hear.
“Nope. Crap,” I say again, switching on my brightest, mega-watt smile reserved for emergency situations just like this one. (Why do I suddenly feel like I’m in the principal’s office, after having just been busted for leaving school grounds to go to the A&P to buy blueberry frosted Pop Tarts?) Not that this ever happened to me…..
“Okay. And your brakes? You’ve been driving around with this squeak...since... 2007?” asks Pete incredulously, as he squints at his computer screen.
“Noooo….no way! Maybe….. Possibly,” I sputter, doing the math in my head and realizing that yes, indeed…it probably was 2007. (More snickering from next-door...this guy's starting to really bug me...)
“But…I tried to stop back to get them fixed…” I say…sounding defeated.
“Let me see what I can do,” says Pete, sighing deeply.
30 minutes later, he walks in with my keys and my bill. I've watched (or more like felt) everyone I came in with come and depart...I realize I'm now surrounded by a new group of weary-waiters and I figure this is cannot possibly be a good sign.
“Go on…get outta here,” Pete says softly enough for only me to hear. I smile gratefully, staring into those baby blues for one meaningful second...
And then I'm not only golden...I'm gone.