The Oil Change Guy

Here’s the thing – I look forward to getting my oil changed at those Quick Lube places like I look forward to wiping my kid after he goes to the bathroom. The experience is uncomfortable, it smells and I need to wash my hands afterwards.   It’s always the same song and dance.  The minute I pop my hood, I brace myself for the routine.

It starts with the idle chit chat.  Small talk always feels more awkward when it’s through your car window to a technician in a jumpsuit hovering above you.  He walks to look under my hood while the car gently sways from the guy in the hole below yanking on whatever part it is that gets the oil out.  Do you ever wonder what goes on down there?  I do.  Every time the car jerks, I picture a monkey swinging wildly from the bottom mechanics of my car.  Seconds later he comes back with, wait for it… the dirty air filter.  Yes, I can see it’s dirty.  Yes, those are dead bees.  Yes, I know my gas mileage is affected.  No, I do not want to purchase another one for $12.99.  He returns to check the fluids only to come back shortly to let me know how dull my wiper blades are and ask if I could use a pair for $15.99.  No thanks, I like the streaks the rain leaves.  They look like rainbows.  And as he’s recording my mileage, he always slips a plug in for some fancy high-mileage oil that costs another $20.  But it will preserve the life of my engine?  Who cares.  I need to preserve the life of my bank account.

My brother-in-law is a mechanic, so I have been able to avoid these places for some time now.  But occasionally, I don’t want to bother him and more often, I’m negative 564 miles past my oil life and can’t stand to watch the numbers plummet anymore.  So, I go looking for a Quick Lube.  And that’s what happened recently when I drove into a very suspect looking Quick Lube near our house.

My experience started out the same.  I pulled up, the garage door lifted and I was waved in by a technician.  But as soon as I put the car into park, I could tell something was different.  He was just standing there looking at me from the end of my car.  His face was smudged with oil and his long hair was clumped with dirt and, well, more oil.  His jumpsuit was filthy and he wore a tattered and torn hunter’s jacket.  I stared back and he nodded and motioned for me to pop the hood.  A little nervous about this grumpy technician, I fumbled around looking for the button.  I couldn’t find it.  The more I couldn’t find it, the more nervous I became until it was a lost cause and he walked to my door.  He grunted and pointed at the floor of the mini-van where the lever was waiting, plain as day.  I popped the hood and he went about his business.  Someone was in that hole tugging on my car, but I never saw him.  Not even 10 minutes had passed before he was back at my window handing me a clipboard as I simultaneously handed him my debit card.  I know the drill – give me my sticker and my receipt and I’ll get out of here.

As I drove away I realized something very profound.  He didn’t speak!  That man didn’t say one, gosh darn word to me… that’s the best oil change I have ever had!!!  I was grinning from ear to ear as I recounted my experience to my husband.

Since that time, my husband has been and I have returned for another visit.  Each time it’s the same experience – he doesn’t speak!  Well, this last time he did when I (once again) forgot where the lever was to pop the hood.  Instead of grunting, he walked to my window and said “on the floor.”  Maybe we’re becoming friends.

This past time, the owner was there and he came over to talk to me.  We chatted for a bit, but you know what?  He didn’t try to sell me an air filter!  In fact, they have never once showed me my air filter! I told him how much I enjoyed coming there and what a great experience it has been.  I asked him about the technician who doesn’t speak and found out that his name is Billy.  So, naturally, I returned with some pie for him and Billy.  Billy wouldn’t come talk to me but I packaged up some pie for him and wrote a note thanking him for such a great oil change.

The owner and his dog

As I turned to leave, the pie was sitting on the service desk and I caught Billy’s eye.  I didn’t speak.  I just nodded towards the pie as if to say “on the desk” and walked out.

For your silent service and never showing me my air filter, you deserve some pie, Oil Change Guys.

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