I have oil change guilt.
You know what I mean. When you look up at the sticker in the corner of your windshield, and notice that your oil change was due 4,000 miles ago.
In truth, I actually have old-school oil change guilt. Most new cars don't need the stickers. They have the guilt built directly into the car.
You'll be driving around, minding your own business, and your "message center" will let you know that your oil change is due. Oh yes, you ignore it for 30 seconds until it disappears, but it comes back every time you start your car, an unrelenting reminder that you don't care about the health of your automobile or the environment.
The "message center" in my wife's car has issues. Every time the car goes up or down a very steep hill or perhaps on a bumpy road, some random warning pops up. It's not subtle either. A giant red message telling you that your 4WD needs repair is like seeing the dead skunk in the road a second too late. You try to swerve, but no dice.
I'm sure I could take it to a repair guy and get the electronics exchanged for ~1300 dollars. That seems like money well spent...if they threw in a plasma TV.
Maybe the car's CPU needs a car therapist. I've heard of preachers in the south casting demons out of cars...why can't one talk to it for a while??
Maybe I can get the On-star people to talk to the CPU directly. I'd pay 16 bucks a month for that service...
"Hi, this is On-star, what seems to be the problem?"
"I'm feeling hostility towards my owners."
"Did they touch you inappropriately on your undercarriage?"
"How did you know?? And they always take a long time when soaping me...like they enjoy it."
"Tell me about your relationship with your Mother..."
"I don't remember my Mother...she was totaled when I was young. I do remember a bobble-head crown in her dash though...."
If therapy doesn't work, tapping the display always seems to help. I don't mean that it fixes the problem, but it helps my inner frustration.
I think I understand the roots of "the tap" or "the kick." You know what I'm talking about...where a white line pops up on an old TV, so you hit the side until it goes away.
Perhaps you have a lawn-mower that won't start, so you give it a good kick.
This is because of the presence of mechanical connections in these items, that sometimes need a good "shaking up."
Unfortunately, our bodies are hard-wired to continue this practice when it really does no good.
Is your LCD monitor blinking? Why not hit it?
Is the "self-checkout" computer at Wal-mart frozen? Try tapping the screen until it responds. I've heard that by issuing more commands to a frozen computer, you may fix the problem. duh.
Are your kids talking back to you? Why not hit.....I'm just kidding.
So, I decide to heed the warning of the little Jiffy Lube sticker, and head over on a Saturday afternoon.
Some of you may think me foolish for not changing my own oil, but methinks you underestimate what this process entails for me. How long would it take me to change the oil? 10 minutes? Yeah right. I only have like 3 wrenches...Where's my car jacks?...I forgot a filter...Time for lunch for the kids...spraying the f-word as oil drips in your mouth...etc.
These reasons above are worth the fee for the Jiffy Lube dudes to take care of it for me. In addition, they wash my windows, vacuum out leftover french fries from under the seats, and spray boysenberry delight air freshener when they're finished. Plus they deliver my car "valet-style" when they're finished. I'm cool like that.
I pull my car into the oil change bay and head to the Jiffy Lube waiting room.
These waiting rooms are standard issue across the country:
-First and foremost, there must be an old-fashioned popcorn maker. This machine only needs to be cleaned once a year, and it's known that 26% of people that reach in, leave germs on random kernels.
You know, I think every car tire place I've visited also has popcorn. Do all mechanic's like popcorn? Why the stereotype? I'd contact the NAACP.
-Next, there must the same blown up newspaper article from the USA Today on the wall, that states how important regular oil changes are to fuel economy and the health of your car. If you look closely, you will see that this article is from 1996, and was an advertisement that Jiffy Lube took out in the paper.
-They next have the option of free coffee, a soda machine, or both. After 45 minutes of waiting for your car, it'll be the best 1.25 can of Dr. Thunder you'll ever have.
-Not to be forgotten are the myriads of newspapers, magazines, and 'big nickel" classifieds from 2 years ago. Who doesn't want to read about Terrell Owens wanting to leave the Eagles.
-And lastly is the community bathroom. This is also used by the employees, which is evidenced by black goo film covering every solid surface. The odds that there are actually paper towels in the bathroom, are 37%. That's practically Russian roulette.
So, I grab a bag of RSV popcorn, and survey the seating situation. There is an old guy with a little cocker spaniel sitting across the room from an elderly lady eating some SARS popcorn of her own. I pick a seat in between the two and grab the June 2003 issue of US weekly.
I wait nervously as I know what is about to come---There are only 3 certainties in this world; Death, taxes, and that the Jiffy Lube guy will come harp you to change your air filter. It doesn't matter if I bought one the last time I was in, he'll always come bother me. The conversation usually goes like this:
Jiffy dude: Mr. Hypocritical, we recommend replacing your air filter on a regular basis. For only 9.99 we can replace it.
Me: Is it that bad?
JD: Well, any air flow restriction will cause poor gas mileage, and inefficiencies in your car.
Me: Is it that bad?
JD: Generally, if you can't see light coming through the filter, it needs to be replaced.
Me: Is it that bad?
JD: (Seeing that his normal sales strategy won't work on me) Well, (looking at the outpouring of light coming through the filter) it will probably be OK until next oil change.
Me: (retreating quickly)
JD: Oh, and we noticed that the manufacturer suggests a transmission service, at 50,000 miles, and...
It's about this time that I stop paying attention. I don't even understand what most car guts do, so why do I need to get them serviced every 15,000 miles? How do I know if they even do anything? What's involved in a fuel system cleaning service? Is this something I can buy in Wal-mart and put in my gas?
I then politely decline all services knowing that I will pass all my car problems onto the person who buys my car in 3 years.
I'm almost finished with my "service" when the little old lady sitting near me decides to start feeding her popcorn to the other gentleman's dog without saying a word to the old dude. Is this kosher? It's not like feeding the ducks at the pond.
She gave that damn dog half the bag without the old man saying one word. The whole experience was ridiculously awkward...I almost went outside to "fake a smoke," just to get away. God knows I couldn't go in the restroom.
The old guy's car was finished, and they both got up together and went to his car and left....
So, I'm not sure which is more odd? The off-chance that she could have been a stranger, and fed another stranger's dog without asking, or the fact that they know each other, and decided to sit on completely different sides of the Jiffy Lube waiting room without saying boo to one another.
I don't know...but I gotta go...my low coolant light is on.