The Waiting Room
We get the truck’s oil changed at the dealership because they sold us “unlimited oil changes.” Which means they get the truck for a whole day -why most people probably quit doing it- but since I can bike home from the place, I don’t mind not having a car. They always provide a list of things that “need to be done” to the truck. They give you free oil changes for life, so their mechanic can scare you into getting some work done.)
“Engine air filter and cabin filter need to be changed, plus power steering pump is leaking, you should flush out the radiator too along with power steering fluid.” Says the voice over the phone. “Want us to change those out for you?”
“Was the power steering fluid low?” I ask.
“I’m not sure, I’ll have him check it.”
“Thanks, and can you write down how much those cost?” I say like it’s a fix I need to budget for. When I haul three boys into the dealership, talk about mom working nights, and then seeing us get on our bikes to get home, they’ll slow down with the scare tactics. As long as they don’t notice the travel stickers from the Grand Canyon, Orcas Island, and “Get Lost! In Montana!” accumulating on our roof rack carrier.
“Well aren’t you sweet.” She says and then lets out a screech as he crams the cold bottle between her legs so it can’t fall out.
“You play Mine-Craft with that?” Sam’s sitting on the arm of a chair filled with a large man holding a lab-top and seeming a little uneasy with Sam’s open bottle of lemonade swinging around pointing toward the guy’s screen, Sam’s like the guy who may have had one too many and now everybody is his friend and he’s going around visiting, which is Sam’s Mode-of-Operiti for life.
“No” says the guy, but that quick answer doesn’t stop Sam.
“Yeah, I play a little bit on the weekends, that’s when my dad lets me play…” He swings the tip of his bottle towards me pointing. I pretend to not notice Sam or the drops of juice-which may or may not-have landed on the guy’s keyboard.
“I’m building a castle with an underground maze to store my iron and diamonds.” he takes another swig. “Oliver, this guy needs a lemonade, get him a lemonade!”
“No, I’m O.K.….” he says.
“Don’t worry they’re free!” yells Sam, as he starts dispensing his wisdom that free things should always be taken, like stuff left on the side of the street. Oliver comes over and gives Sam the thumbs up sign and starts a march back to the fridge.
“I wrote down the prices of the stuff you need”, says Joe the customer service guy. I like Joe, he remembers everyone’s name and the many stories I tell him about what the boys are up to. The rings under his eyes attest to his long hours. He’s always here, except when he went to Thailand to visit his son for a month. His eyes glaze over when he begins to talk about that trip. When I schedule maintenance on the truck, I always mention a %10 off coupon I have from another Honda dealership that came in the mail. He always says he will match it but never asks for the coupon. I glance at the cost of replacing the cabin and engine-air filters, $96 installed. I’ll buy both at Napa tomorrow for a combined cost of $26. The guys at Oil Stop will replace the power steering and radiator fluids for a third of the cost and install my new engine air filter for free. They point out the power steering pump and I see it is wet but not “a leak.”
“Here’s your coffee dad.” Gabriel hands me a cup of the single Krupp’s coffee you can make, it’s the same one Grandpa Ted has in his house and Gabriel knows how to use the machine. It makes really good coffee. I see Oliver in the distance going around the sales room handing out free lemonade bottles to salesman and customers alike. Neither are allowed to refuse his sales pitch, as he only gets louder if they try not to take it. The customers watch as the salesman under Oliver’s threatening eye opens his bottle before they do, making sure its ok. Oliver leaves a bottle on each of the desks as he passes, returns to the fridge, replenishes his supply, and drops a few off with the kids waiting in the “toy area.”
“Well,” I say, tapping the counter with a drummer boy’s beat preparing to begin a march. “I better get going.”
“Papa! More Lemonade Please!” Oliver has emptied the fridge of lemonade-except the two he has in his hands.
“Joe’s on it Oliver, thanks buddy.”
“Oliver!” yells Sam. “What about this guy?” Referring to the guy with the lab top.
As we march out of the waiting room, Oliver tosses a full bottle onto the guys lap. He looks angry at Oliver, but Oliver just gives him the look of a “Its on me buddy, no charge”, and high steps it out the door. “Thank-you Oliver,” says the lady with the magazine. He exits through the door I have opened for him, but then, like a performer coming back on stage for an encore, turns around and comes back in.
“It’s in the Fridge over there”, as if he is giving the secret to free drinks for life, “See? Right here!”
I used to stress about having my kids in a place like this. But we were all kids once, and some of us were as loud and carefree as these boys. I don’t serve up free drinks, but do pass out a little reminder of how, "you gotta live it up baby," even in the waiting room of a service center taking you for a $50 ride on a 5 minute installation that doesn’t take a screw driver let alone a “Certified Honda Technician.”