I tried to warn my husband that he and his car were getting a reputation.
“I beg your pardon?” he said.
“You’re an oil-change tramp,” I explained as I rifled through our car receipts. “Look at this—it’s someplace different every time: Quickie Lube, Zippy Change, the Don’t-Ask-Don’t-Tell Garage.”
He had to admit I was right. My husband doesn’t care where he gets his lube job. In fact, the more anonymous the encounter, the better.
I disagree. I believe in establishing a long-term relationship with my garage. I want them to call when I’m overdue to have my fluids replaced, check out my headlights without being asked, slap a little sticker on my windshield.
Oh, I tried the anonymous route, all right.
The people at Zippy Change hustled me in and out without asking my name. The whole encounter was over in ten minutes. “Really?” I cried. “You’re finished already?!” They looked puzzled.
My experience at Quickie Lube was even worse. There they only wanted to talk filth. I had barely taken a seat in the waiting room when a mechanic approached holding something dingy.
“You want to replace this?” he grunted.
I stared at the unidentified dingy object. Frankly, it looked no dirtier than anything else I’d glimpsed under a hood. But the man was waiting for a response, so I did what came naturally: I faked it.
“Go for it,” I smiled.
I had nightmares about this encounter for weeks, certain that I had been duped into authorizing $80 of repairs to their coffeemaker.
After that experience, I’d had it with “quickies.” I wanted a garage that would commit to me. One that would ask for my phone number. One that would offer me a key ring with their name on it.
I considered several places before finding the perfect spot. They couldn’t take me right away. “Playing hard-to-get,” I sighed. “I love that in a garage.”
Still, it wasn’t until my car started making an unusual noise that I felt certain this repair place was the one for me.
“What kind of noise?” inquired the mechanic.
“Bad,” I whimpered.
He handed me People and took my car keys. Twenty minutes later, the man returned.
“The pressure regulator is limiting pressure to the fuel injection system,” he explained.
I stared. “I was an English major,” I whispered.
He nodded, pondering a bit. Finally he tried: “Mr. Car is sick.”
At that moment, I knew I’d found the garage of my dreams.
Several years have now passed, and my relationship with these mechanics has proved mutually satisfying. I love that they have filters--they never show me dirty parts or do anything else that might kill my mood.
My husband, on the other hand, continues to have his car serviced wherever he pulls off the road. It works for him. He’s even found a few places that will flush his cooling system and vacuum his interior.
“Sure,” I reply. “But will they respect you in the morning?”