Check Yer Ohl?


I had the oil changed on my Pilot the other day and let me tell you, I feel pretty good.

As the Valvoline Man leans in to slap that sticker on my windshield, I can breath a sigh of relief (without breathing in too close to Valvoline Man) and know I don’t have to check the mileage on my car until the day a couple months from now when my husband is driving and looks at the sticker, looks at the mileage numbers and says, “Holy Crap, Diane! Did you know you’re 3,000 miles past due for an oil change? Don’t you ever check this thing?”

Do I ever check this thing? Do I check this thing? 

Of course I don’t check this thing.

I hate getting the oil changed.

It used to be easy. Cocaine Wayne, my mechanic in New Jersey, made it a breeze. I’d maneuver my car into his little shack on a hill about a half mile from my house. While Wayne’s brother changed the oil, I’d sit in the office, get a handful of Skittles out of the machine and listen to Wayne’s stories of drunken debauchery on the Hudson River during his glory days. Before his divorce, before he was kicked out of the house, before his reconciliation with his adult daughters, before he kicked his heroin habit.

The Valvoline Man can’t hold a dipstick to that guy. For one thing, he’s only in his early 20s and hasn’t had time to rack up the miles like Wayne.

The Valvoline Man is too helpful. He wants to tell me how a higher grade of oil will help me get better gas mileage, asks me what kind of driving I do around town (“Lots of short trips? Lots of starts and stops?”), explains that I’m dangerously overdue for an automatic transmission fluid transfusion, my radiator is begging to be flushed, and that I should be shocked and embarrassed at the dinginess of my air filter. (“You see, it starts out white,” he nicely explains.)

I never had to make these kinds of decisions with Wayne. He didn’t do anything other than the oil change. If he did, he never told me. His brother may have mentioned it, but I was too wrapped up in Wayne’s story of the time his wife threw him out of the house and changed the locks on the doors. I love the part where he says, “She had a point . . . I was doing a lot of drugs and drinking quite a bit. But no one person was to blame.”

When I was growing up, my Mom would get gas at the 3D gas station. Every time the guy filled her tank, he’d ask, “Check yer ohl?” and she’d say yes and he’d check it and every once in a while he’d add, “Mrs. Laney, I think yer prob’ly due for a tune-up.” And she’d say, oh yes, and she’d make an appointment and get a tune-up, which presumably included an ohl change.

Those days are long gone. And I live far from Wayne and his antics now. I’ll have to start working with what I’ve got. There is some potential – the guy on Tuesdays has a middle finger tattoo (either that or a fist of death or a large rose).