The Ten-Hour Oil Change


Drat! Just my luck! Getting ready to go out of town and the odometer in my car is on that 15,000 mile mark that means it’s time to change the oil. I’ve got a million other better things to do. I hate getting the oil changed! I hate anything to do with fixing or maintaining a car.

Oh well, guess I’ll take it to the dealership. I always let them do it, so there is no possibility of a problem with the warranty. Also, they know how to service it right. Some of these places I’m not so sure about. Besides, they talked me into buying that unlimited oil change package when I bought my car.

They have a 30 minute oil change policy, but I decided to drop it off on my way to work and pick it up on my way home. I can get a ride to work from a friend. They will have all day to change the oil and the car will be ready. No waiting. Good plan.

I get there in the morning at 7 am. The doors are closed and cars lined up waiting. “I gotta go to work,” I think. “I don’t have time for this game.” So, I put the keys in a envelope, write a note, “change oil & filter,” scribble my name, phone number, and car license number on the envelope, and I put it in their night drop box. I’ve done it before.

I work all day and, after work, my friend drops me off and I go in to get my car.

“What oil change?” says the service rep. “I don’t have any record of it.”

“But, I left my keys in the drop box this morning!”

“We didn’t get them.”

“Well, where are they?”

After much checking, hum-hawing, and head scratching, somebody decides to look in the drop box. There are my keys, untouched. I am beginning to loose my patience rapidly.

“Do you check the drop box?”

“Oh, we check it at 7 am when we get here,” he says, “and we don’t check after that. We must have been open when you got here.”

“If you were open, why were the doors closed and cars lined up outside? You looked closed to me.” …But no point arguing. The oil hasn’t been changed.

“Can you change the oil now?”

He looked pained, “Well… okay.”

I’m aggravated, and so is he.

“We will have to get someone to stay late,” he says. Like I care. “But, we’ll take care of it for you!” Like it’s a favor. The car has been here 10 hours. I don’t care how much overtime they have to pay or whether they miss their dinner. I’m missing my dinner too.

So, there I am in the bland little waiting room with the day old coffee and plastic furniture, watching reruns of the Waltons on a crummy TV – just what I wanted to avoid. Why didn’t I call? Why did I think they could possible do the obvious thing and check their drop box? I should know that they can never do anything right without being told several times.

Finally, the service guy comes in the little room and says he is sorry about the mix up. I know he still thinks it is my fault. He is just trying to satisfy the customer. But, I’m starting to see the humor and beginning to feel a bit generous by now. I’m writing this very column in my head already. I’m gonna put him on the Internet and make him famous, I think.

“Oh, I should have called,” I say, smiling.

“It’s gonna be $70,” he says, smiling back.

“What happened to my free oil changes service package?” I asked.

“2 years or 24,000 miles, whichever come first,” he says.

Don’t get mad, I tell myself, as I mentally scratch his squinty little eyes out.

Finally, the car is done. I tell the coffee pot and John Boy goodbye, pay the ransom, and escape the oil oozing, automotive hell hole.

Why didn’t I call? Next time, I’ll call! No, next time I’ll go some place else.

Two days later the phone rings. It’s the good folks from the car dealership. “How was your service? Were you completely satisfied?” whines the perky female bimbo on the other end.

She had to ask!

“Well, the service was fine once I got some.” I snapped. “I left my car all day long for an oil change and still had to wait for it.” I wanted to smack her foolish face for even asking.

“I’ll report this!” she exclaims. “They may call you back about it.”

They never did call. Probably she put the report in their stupid drop box, and it was never found.

©2000 Sheila Moss

About Sheila Moss

My stories are about daily life and the funny things that happen to all of us. My columns have been published in numerous newspapers, magazines, anthologies, and websites.
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