Yep, it’s car maintenance time and that means I’m sitting in a waiting room on a burgundy pleather banquette with Fox News and a coffee pot for company. My husband’s front passenger tire has a nail in it, so I had to go to the nearest place possible: a place called Big O, whose name, I think we’ll all agree, is begging for explanation.
So far, my visit has entailed talking to a cologny, possibly fake-baked mechanic who has called me “honey” three times, something that might cause my feminist sisters to wince but something I quite enjoyed.
I’m a complete dolt when it comes to anything having to do with cars. In fact, the extent of my ability is getting the car to the shop. Once there, I am reduced to monosyllable answers, the most common of which is “Ummm.” Luckily, the guy today knew what year my car is at first glance, which I was thankful for since that information flew out of my head as soon as I heard the Led Zeppelin streaming from the oil-scented garage.
I could never be a mechanic. First, because I’m not smart enough. But second, because it’s so loud. I don’t know how you ever get used to all of that metal screeching on metal. Plus, it seems physically strenuous, but not in a triumphant, run-a-marathon way, more like in a “hi, this hurts my back” way.
This waiting room has red and black checked flooring and a big window with a view of the packed garage. There are also two pictures: one of an American flag that says “freedom” underneath it, and one of an adorable puppy snoozing atop a pile of tires. You have to think that the owner’s wife might have had something to do with the puppy pic. You can imagine the conversation that might have taken place over that special piece of artwork.
“I’m going to catch hell with the guys over this one, baby.”
“Half of your customers are women, lovebun. They’ll love it.”
“But my pride, babe.”
“Stuff it, honey.”
Of course, the picture requiring the most attention is the TV. It’s Super Tuesday, and I think I’ve heard the word “Trump” about 50 times in the 15 minutes I’ve been here. To think I finally became an American citizen only to have these candidates from which to choose. I’m not going to get political here, but the only word I think can accurately describe this whole thing is “circus.”
The TV is so incessantly talky, graphics popping up so aggressively, tickertapes so dizzying, I’m actually thankful for the commercials. I just saw one for fertilizer, which included shots of sprawling crops, and it’s making me think of gardening. I bet Rodney Hendrickson already has his onions planted. I’ve been thinking that for weeks, but it hasn’t made me get out there. One of my goals in life is to grow heads of romaine lettuce like Rodney Hendrickson. Or a tomato like Carol Mills. So far, despite taking the master gardener class, I continue to be a pretty big failure in the gardening department.
John Mellencamp’s “Small Town” just came on in the garage. Oh man, how I do love a good John Mellencamp song. Sometimes I wonder just how much “Jack and Diane” is responsible for me living in a small town in the middle of the U.S in the first place. My dad had the record and I loved looking at the cover. Records were so great for that, weren’t they? You practically wanted to hang the covers on the wall they were so artsy. My best friend Kristin and I used to use them for the flooring of our “apartments” when we played Barbies. I would almost always choose Cat Stevens’ “Tea for the Tillerman.”
There is always a point during the car maintenance visit when you start to feel panicky that you’ll never get to leave. For example, a young woman has just come into the waiting room (I was previously alone) and has already started telling me about how she had to change her t-shirt in the car because it got wet in the hard rain. If I know anything, it’s that I don’t want to imagine this woman taking off her shirt. But then I wonder why I can’t be kinder and more patient, why I immediately feel cornered by social interaction I don’t choose.
As a reminder to be humble, the tire guy just told me my car was ready so I started looking for my key. I dug and dug, searched and searched, pulled out my coupon caddy, wallet, sunglasses, and then, on the brink of panic, remembered that these good tire people have my key. Like, of course they do.
Anyway, looks like I’m off, tire patched, good as new. Next stop, and next week’s column topic: going to the bank.