16 August 2008

A Beautiful Day for an Oil Change

It's 66 degrees and sunny - my computer and my eyes agree. A perfect Saturday morning. I'm here at my "Dealership for Life" for another free oil change, my mind just spinning up on this day off. You've chosen to read the verbal output of this. Lucky you.
If Jiffy Lube commercials were to be believed, there's nothing people hate more than having to make appointments to get their oil changed. I don't so much mind it. Sure, I had to get myself in gear on a Saturday that will find me home for the remainder, but at least the dealership is on our end of town ... more or less. It's not sitting in a wood-paneled room what smells of old smoke and past-its-prime lubricants, either. The waiting area here is spacious, with leather couches, an HDTV mounted on the wall, and hey, what do you know, free wireless internet - though I seem to be the only person ever taking advantage of it when I'm here for my appointments. There are refreshments, too. The coffee leaves plenty to be desired, but this is a car dealership, not Starbucks. Though, Hamilton, you could consider an upgrade to the coffee system. Just sayin'.
Beyond the free mediocre brew-up and comfy seating, the best fun has to be the people watching. A young mother with her toddler daughter who tears off into the showroom, squealing with joy (the child, mind you - I know it's hard to infer which any more), mother apologizing "she always does that". I bet she does.
The employees, the sales force &c. Serious looks on their faces - the masks of concentration that show them planning their next move in the chess match that is automotive sales. Their true faces suddenly replaced with pearly smiles of genuine joy when they make eye contact. Remember, you've already bought one car here, and they're hoping with all the hope their mortgage (or drug habit, but I'm not judging) can muster that you'll be back to buy your next car from them.
The looks on the faces of the people who whether by necessity or by choice are here to buy a car. Are we making the right choice? Can we afford this? Cousin Jack said this place was good, and we trust Jack's opinion. But still ... are we going to get a good deal? After all, Jack said to ask for Steve, but Steve doesn't work Saturdays, so we're dealing with Roger. Will Roger give us as good a deal?
Getting back to my original point, the oil changes. The appointments are fine by me, because the most important thing is that they are free. This is the best part. Oh, I know what the gimmick is: come in for the free oil change and tire rotation, but we're going to sit down and tell you that your car needs this service to prolong the life of the engine, and isn't $300 a reasonable price for the peace of mind going down the road?
Actually, it's about $300 too much. We've all been driving for a long time, and I have yet to have one person not paid to do so tell me that the $150 engine flush and $200 waternator reboot were worth it.
But. This momentary confrontation is also a worthy price to pay for what otherwise would have cost me $40 at the local lube emporium, because at the end of it all I drive out of here with a washed car with fresh oil, topped up fluids (including the air in my tires - I really should buy a pressure gauge, or dig out the one I know I own somewhere), only out the time and gasoline that I spent in getting and being here. And honestly, on a Saturday morning, it's either sit here and drink their coffee and use their internet, or sit at home and drink my own coffee and use my own internet. The major differences being that I'm better clad and someone is working on my car.
I'm going to keep rambling, as my brain is still spinning and I'm frankly, well, bored. Car sales people are interesting to watch when they are standing outside the front of the dealership. Like sharks swimming the briny deep, noses open for the tiniest drop of blood in the water - the smallest amount of oil leaking that indicates someone is done with the piece of junk they drove on to the lot.
How do they determine who will pounce on the next customer? Rotation based on seniority, feats of strength, or whomever isn't currently daydreaming? It's likely not terribly interesting, but I bet I could make it interesting. Have we ever seen a television program take place in a car dealership? Taxi companies, the occasional garage, dry cleaners, bars, hospitals, homes - these have all been done, but a car dealership? We had Larry Dallas, but we never spent any time with him on the lot in sunny Southern California.
They say the sitcom is dying (and largely I'm glad for this), but a car dealership seems ripe with possibility. I'll leave the details up to you, dear reader. I've lost my train of thought on this issue.
In fact, it appears that my entire train of thought has been lost, so I'll grant you mercy and stop writing.

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