Thursday, April 7, 2011

The rough charm of the oil change man

I roll the old Miata into the lube shop. It seems I'm the first customer this morning. The young man brings me The Province, and offers me a cup of coffee. This paper has a good crossword, and the coffee is unexpectedly delicious.

He thinks he has me where he wants me. "Would you like..." But I've already worked out my strategy. I'm one step ahead of him.

"No," I answer firmly. "This is my daughter's car, and she instructed me. Only change the oil."

I dig out a pen, settle my newspaper on the steering wheel and have a sip of coffee. I'm filling in the first clue when he pipes up again.

"Ma'am, would you like..." He doesn't give up easily.

"Does it cost extra?" He admits it does, and I firmly tell him, "In that case, no, thanks," and turn back to my paper. I sip my coffee, then a violent sneeze erupts. Lucky I set the cup down in time.

"Bless you!" says the young man, and I thank him.

"Thanks. I can always use a blessing." I sip the coffee again, fill in another clue or two.

"Excuse me..." I look up to see him smiling at me, all charm. "Sorry, but we're required to ask..." I shake my head no and turn back to my coffee and puzzle, only to hear him address me again.

"Your brake light is burned out. Would you like us to change that?"

I agree to this and he tells me the price. Then I turn the tables on him. "Can you give me a coupon?" I ask him. "My daughter brings the car here all the time."

He will indulge me. "I can give you a five-dollar coupon from the book," he says, "if you're on our email list." I thank him. That will reduce the cost of having the light bulb replaced to a mere nine dollars. Can't drive around with a burnt-out brake light.

He opens the trunk and I feel the little car shake. Then he comes round with a can of lubricant and greases both door hinges. "Do you like driving this car?" I tell him I do.

His smile is fetching. "I bet your car is bigger than this." I admit this, but tell him how I love driving this car, especially with the top down.

"You're a good mother," he says. "Changing your daughter's oil. Tell her to come in if she wants the washer fluid topped up. It's free."

He brings the bill and we go over it. "I didn't wash the windows," he admits. "It's raining."

"No problem," I say and we exchange goodbyes. These guys are programmed to sell, but they love cars. This fellow's rough charm is unique, and I smile and wave as I drive away.

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