I'd been to this service center many times before.
Inspections. Oil changes. Air filters.
You know the drill.
Every time I go, it's the same story: pull in, park, and go wait in the office for 1.5 million hours for someone to ask what I need. Eventually, a potbellied old man I have come to think of as the grandfather of the automotive industry will amble over and grunt something along the lines of, "Wutkin we do ya fir?" I briefly explain my need, hand over my keys, and sit back amongst the stacks of old People and Hot Rod magazines. I glance suspiciously at the wrinkled periodicals, wondering how long they have been here; wondering how long I will be here.
Eons later, after my trusty water bottle has long since been emptied but my bladder has not, and my phone battery is near death from overuse, Gramps shuffles back over, hands me they keys, and I'm free.
Today I was prepared. I brought along not one but two drinks, a book, and my iPad. There was no way boredom would strike on this day! This amazing spring day, sandwiched happily between the Ides of March and St. Patrick's Day -- no sir, I was ready today.
I pulled in to the parking lot, kicked the heavy door to my Charger open, and slipped out of my car. Before I even turned to walk towards the office, a young mechanic was jogging my way.
"Hi! What can I do for you today?" He beamed enthusiastically at me, holding his hand out to take my keys.
"Um. I just need an oil change?" I said, obviously confused. This was not the natural order of things.
"Absolutely! I can take care of that for you right now!" And without another word, he slid into the driver seat of my car.
Bewildered, but not altogether unhappy, I began the short walk to the office. Just outside the door, another young mechanic hopped over from the garage.
"Hey there! How can I help you?"
I'm afraid I must admit I just stood there dumbly for a moment. I half-turned, pointed at the car behind me, and looked back at Mechanic 1.
"Oh. My car. That's it. He's changing the oil... already."
"Oh, very good. Go on in and have a seat and I'll come get you when we're done."
Okay, this is just odd, I thought, maybe everyone is just happy it's Friday.
Mechanic 2 opened the door for me and I went into the office to wait. Before I even had a chance to sit down, a third guy waved at me through the window that faces the garage. I pretended I didn't see him. I sat down. I had a book! An iPad! I was prepared for waiting!
But alas, Mechanic 3 sauntered in to say hello.
After a brief chat, and a promise that I really only needed an oil change and I'd be just as happy as could be to wait as long as it took, he left and returned to the garage.
Gramps wandered in from another room, nodded hello with his typical grunt, and began filtering through paperwork at the counter. I knew I could count on Gramps to maintain some normalcy around here.
I opened my book, ready to read.
"We're all done with 'er!"
It was Mechanic 1, grinning at me as he crossed and unfolded his arms, doing what appeared to be some sort of weird dance move. Sort of. Like watching a Great Dane puppy attempt to be graceful.
I paid for the oil change, thanked him for their speedy work, and he gave me back my change. His hand rested on mine a moment too long. I may have sneered. He backed away.
A horn honked, and I realized Mechanic 2 had pulled my car around to the front for me, and was waiting happily at the driver side door.
He held the door for me until I was in, and I slammed the door shut. The windows were down and my hair blew across my face. I lifted a hand to push it back behind my ears, glancing in the rearview mirror as I did.
And then it hit me.
I always forget how insanely different I'm treated with different hair colors. Back to blonde means more attention, and apparently, faster service at the lube shop.