Sunday, September 09, 2007

I command you to be named Dan, IF you’re my mechanic that is …

“Don’t ever be named Dan, Andy. Dan rhymes with ‘man’ and men j…k off” (“40 Year Old Virgin” disgruntled female character)

Dan was my mechanic. I liked Dan. Dan was tall and never shaved right, and I bet you he thought he was cute, too. He was such a flirt! Dan had the sweetest Southern drawl and he always called me “sugar”, “hon”, “ma’am”, “honey” and although he was middle aged I never took it the wrong way from him. I usually let people 60 and beyond call me all those things (well, those people and the people I REALLY feel I am the “honey” and the “sugar” for, too). Dan was maybe 45?!? Bad teeth but a cute smile. You know, kind of like your dad's stinch of sweat on a summer afternoon; or your grandma's dirty sponge, stinking in the sink: gross, but familiar, so you miss it when it's gone. He was simple, awkward, and sweet, and he was my trusted mechanic! Do you know how HARD it is to put those words in the same phrase: “trusted mechanic”?? Have you any idea what it’s like out there, especially as a woman, to find that?? That is even harder than finding just a “nice ordinary guy”. Honestly!
Dan worked at this place, a franchise mechanics shop, and he did all my oil changes and maintenance on my car(s). I loved Dan! I used to come in and, looking at the price on the wall, that read “ $29.95 – oil change”, I would ask: “Dan, how much for an oil change?”; he would say, smiling, in the sweetest Southern accent: “Weel, you see what it is, honey, but it’s $20 even for you,’cause you’re a regular”… And he would charge the customers the advertised price, once they came in and they were newbie’s, but he would charge me my special price! Always made me feel good!
His parking lot was always full when I pulled in, but I never needed an appointment. He would always take my car for anything, always do exactly what I asked, and always with a smile. He’s the reason I never much used those coupons for the dealer oil changes they give you once you buy a car, and they are free! I like HIS service the best and I didn’t mind paying. My car always ran as he told me it would, too…I would trust Dan with my car like I trust my cardiologist with my heart. He knew best!
Well, this last time, I went to my usual place to find the store (with the same name outside) sold to a young couple. I thought it strange that the parking lot was empty when I pulled in, and yet it was a Saturday, one of the busiest days… So, I take my car in for oil change and a “funny noise”… They say sure, we’ll get you in right away. The lot was empty, so I thought: lucky day, I’ll be in and outta here in no time! I asked if they just bought the place, but didn’t ask where my friend Dan was … Didn’t ask … They said, yes, new owners…
3 hours and $200 later (the noise was belts cracked, and I knew about them so I replaced them finally), I come back to pick up my car .
While waiting for my check and all that, the woman’s (it’s a couple that owns it now) cell rings, and her “ring” is some song that blasts in the waiting room: “yeah, I am a crazy bitch…” – the lyrics go. The people in the shop look at each other (me included) thinking “OK. Not appropriate for a semi-public, professional place”. Eyes pop! Her husband looks at us, shakes his head and shrugs. So, HE finds it inappropriate, too. He did strike me like the hen-pecked kind. She answers (in a Hick, no, no, not Southern!!! Accent) : “ Yeah …. Yeah … I am FREAKING WORKING (raising voice), what d’ya think I’m doin’?! Sure… yeah… Well, tell Angie to kiss my butt, then!” – again, we stare are each other, the 2 people that are in the waiting area … and we sigh… Never in Dan’s time, when he would pick up the phone with “ Thank you for calling your friendly Such-and-such shop, where we feature a $19.95 break check. This is Dan, how may I help you today?”. Very much not the same!
I get in my car and after the waiting room circus, I think the whole time:” last time here! For sure!!!”. But when I get into it, I definitely think that IS the last time!! My wheel, my speed shift, my dashboard, AND my door handle are all covered in black, greasy oil! Never in Dan’s time did I have to clean up like this! The fabric on the door is completely ruined, for sure! I looked closely on the windshield, and there is a huge blob of oil right in the middle of the windshield! My first instinct is to clean it, with the wipers, but it makes it worse! So, frustrated I drive away!
Back, in Dan’s time, I never had to feel sick about driving my own car. Never had to be listening to obscenities in the waiting room; never had to pay the full price (even AFTER I had told the numbskulls this was NOT my first time there)! I never had to clean up my car like some kind of cave men worked in it. I am not some kind of prissy lady, either! I don’t want my car detailed after every service (although my dealer does that, as a “thank you” service), but I do notice common sense: clean up after yourselves, folks! Yeah, I would never be back to the new people, who never had the decency to introduce themselves! Oh, yeah, and having to take the car right back, because my “check engine” light turned on at the first light after I left the parking lot is not speaking too much in their favor, either!
I will not be back! I will CALL back! Oh, yeah, I will!! But the only question I will have will be – you know it: “You know where Dan moved?”.
Thank God, for guys named Dan that own car shops! I miss mine!

Sunday, September 02, 2007

No more band aids...

I have been asking for band aids. And so they came. And now, I am not sure. Are we ever happy with what we do have?!
I want cures now. Cures for sad eyes. And cure for pain. So much of it in fact that I don’t remember what it feels like to have none.
Most often, I am aware of the blessings I have, and the ones I share into the world, and somehow at the end of the day all I feel is pain. I am not a complainer and I never want to believe that I whine out of nothing. And I am not whining now. But I do wish I would have some peace. With me and the world. Where can one buy peace? Or be given it away?
I want one afternoon with no plans and no pain. And no fixin’ what’s bleeding… One afternoon without spreading myself too thin… for the world around me. For friends, and family, and work, and the world in general. One hour where no piece of my flesh or my brain leaves this tired body, and just stays put. One afternoon for me. One afternoon at the end of which I can tell myself: “The world IS right, for once: I AM selfish!”.
I have not done something for me alone, just out of selfishness for so long I forgot what it feels like. Without realizing, I’ve let myself being dragged by life into the “caregiver” role, into the “mother of all wounded people” and my own ego and myself are drowned somewhere in the midst of all that. Like a broken pitcher, I am giving water out through all my orifices, without being able to replenish myself, nor keeping myself full. I am getting dry… And I am cracking!
I usually feed off of the beauty of life. But for the past long months the life around me has given me no beauty. Just pain, and want and punches. Not as in “fruit punches”, but the kind you get in the gut.
I still have no regrets, amazingly enough, but I don’t want to harden up! I want to stay juicy and lively. I want to replenish the water. I have no regrets. Only lots of gray hair and wrinkles. Only that! And a lot of pain. And an unexpected penury of painkillers in all markets.
PS: about the title: finicky as always, ain't I?!