Oil Change Revisited


Last we left the oil change saga, I had gone to a locally owned auto repair shop that turned out a little sketchy. After that encounter, I got online and found a shop with really good reviews. People said they were honest, did good work, didn’t do work that wasn’t necessary. It all sounded fine, so I called in the morning to find out when I could come in.

The main who answered the phone had the swoon-worthy voice of a radio announcer. This man was smooth. He said an oil change for the van would cost $19.99. He told me to come on in, and they’d take care of me.

When I arrived, there were already several people sitting in the clean waiting area. The big television was playing a morning news show. After checking in and meeting Mr. Swoon, I settled in with my book, confident that I would soon be happily back on the road.

After some time, another worker called me up to the desk and told me that they’d found some problems. Every time he’d name a problem, I’d say, What does that mean? After two problems, he called Mr. Swoon from the back to deal with me.

Mr. Swoon was very nice and patiently explained everything to me in language I could (almost) understand. I had already told him I didn’t have any money, mentioned the new crown and the root canal that I still need. When he finished listing everything wrong with the van, I asked him how much it would all cost. He said about $2,000. That’s when I started to cry.

Here’s a list of the things wrong with my van and how much the repair will cost.

Lower intake manifold gasket leaking ($825.50)

Transmission mount ($165.50)

Upper ball joints ($385.50)

Inner and outer tie rod ends ($416.50)

Rear main seal leaking ($650)

Upper and lower radiator hoses ($149.95)

Fuel injection service ($109.95)

Fuel filter ($85.50)

Shocks ($289.95 x 2)

Of course, some of these repairs aren’t urgent. Shocks? I’ve never had a van with decent shocks. Aren’t shocks just about comfort? I’d rather spend money on my air conditioner instead of buying shocks.

And I could probably buy parts online or at an auto parts store and save money that way. I didn’t ask, but I’ve done that before when I was having Sears work on one of my vans. (I don’t trust Sears any more because workers at a Sears in Ohio straight up lied about what was wrong with my vehicle.)

We all know that if I buy the parts myself and get an individual to work on my van in his/her backyard, I could save myself a lot of money. The problem is that the person I trust to do this kind of work is in another state, and I don’t know who to trust where I am.

So I started crying. Not sobbing, just tearing up, but then the tears started to fall. I tried to dry my eyes on the sleeve of my shirt. I apologized, and Mr. Swoon got really flustered. He told me he’d finish the paperwork, so I sat down. I quit crying pretty quickly. Crying’s not going to help, so why keep doing it?

When Mr. Swoon finished writing up the recommendations, he called me up to the counter. He asked me if I was ok, and told me they’d take care of me. He even grabbed my hand and gave it a squeeze.

As soon as I got back to van and into the driver’s seat, I received a phone call about a potential job. I was taking that call when I saw Mr. Swoon walk out of the office and head towards me. I thought he probably had some business with the vehicle next to me, but he came right over to my open door and asked me again if I were ok. I had to ask the temp job recruiter on the phone to hold on, then assure Mr. Swoon that I was indeed ok. He seemed really worried about me.

I wondered again later to the Lady of the House why more people aren’t bursting into tears when they hear bad news while sitting in the chair at the dentist’s office or when the guy behind the desk at the auto repair shop tells them the work their vehicle needs will cost more than what they paid for the vehicle in the first place. We decided most people are just numbed out, either by the day-to-day struggle to survive or by the drugs (marijuana, meth, anti-depressants, anti-anxiety meds, pain killers, whatever) they are using to help them get through the day. The Lady wondered if fewer people would need drugs if they allowed themselves to cry in front of the mechanic or dentist or whoever is asking for more money than they possess.

I don’t doubt the van needs work. It’s a 1992. I just don’t know if it needs everything this place says it needs, and I don’t know what can wait and for how long. So now I have to start the process of finding a garage to give me a second opinion.

And the $19.95 oil change? It cost me $24.45. That’s a lot of tax, I thought, but found when I looked at the receipt that the tax as only $1.30. However, there’s also a $1.20 charge for “supplies” (on top of the $13.95 I paid for parts), and a “hazmat” charge of $2. What are these supplies? And if every oil change results in a hazmat charge, why not just add that to the advertised price? I’m tired of surprises.

About Blaize Sun

My name is Blaize Sun. Maybe that's the name my family gave me; maybe it's not. In any case, that's the name I'm using here and now. I've been a rubber tramp for nearly a decade.I like to see places I've never seen before, and I like to visit the places I love again and again. For most of my years on the road, my primary residence was my van. For almost half of the time I was a van dweller, I was going it alone. Now I have a little travel trailer parked in a small RV park in a small desert town. I also have a minivan to travel in. When it gets too hot for me in my desert, I get in my minivan and move up in elevation to find cooler temperatures or I house sit in town in a place with air conditioning I was a work camper in a remote National Forest recreation area on a mountain for four seasons. I was a camp host and parking lot attendant for two seasons and wrote a book about my experiences called Confessions of a Work Camper: Tales from the Woods. During the last two seasons as a work camper on that mountain, I was a clerk in a campground store. I'm also a house and pet sitter, and I pick up odd jobs when I can. I'm primarily a writer, but I also create beautiful little collages; hand make hemp jewelry and warm, colorful winter hats; and use my creative and artistic skills to decorate my life and brighten the lives of others. My goal (for my writing and my life) is to be real. I don't like fake, and I don't want to share fake. I want to share my authentic thoughts and feelings. I want to give others space and permission to share their authentic selves. Sometimes I think the best way to support others is to leave them alone and allow them to be. I am more than just a rubber tramp artist. I'm fat. I'm funny. I'm flawed. I try to be kind. I'm often grouchy. I am awed by the stars in the dark desert night. I hope my writing moves people. If my writing makes someone laugh or cry or feel angry or happy or troubled or comforted, I have done my job. If my writing makes someone think and question and try a little harder, I've done my job. If my writing opens a door for someone, changes a life, I have done my job well. I hope you enjoy my blog posts, my word and pictures, the work I've done to express myself in a way others will understand. I hope you appreciate the time and energy I put into each post. I hope you will click the like button each time you like what you have read. I hope you will share posts with the people in your life. I hope you'll leave a comment and share your authentic self with me and this blog's other readers. Thank you for reading.  A writer without readers is very sad indeed.

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