Thursday, October 7, 2010

“Venting at an oil change”

Doesn’t it feel good after you get your oil changed? There is a sense that your car feels better and is happy and is eager to go. I like my car to feel that way.

Of course, most of the sense of joy comes from the realization that I won’t have to do that again for a few months. I hate to take care of car stuff. Unfortunately, somebody’s got to do it. Car maintenance didn’t make it onto Kay’s job description. I got all the car stuff. She got ironing clothes and sewing on buttons. Fair tradeoff? I don’t think so.

I used to change the oil myself, but now I let the dealership do it. I’ve mentioned to you that one of my ex-students is a service rep at the dealership. One honest kid, that Troy. He’s even talked me out of doing stuff to the car. “It’s still got a couple years wear, Mr. Hayter.” If the guy told me I needed to change my dweetbottle gage, I’d do it. It’s so nice to trust your service department.

When I have the car serviced, I always bring a book along to read. This time I brought a book written by Robert Parker, one of my favorite Western writers. The book is about Wyatt Earp. I didn’t realize that when I picked it up at the used bookstore. I like Wyatt Earp. He’s like a friend of mine. But enough is enough. There are millions of characters in print I’ve yet to read about. I need to quit Earp.

So, I closed the book, picked up my assigned service beeper and went to look at the new cars in the showroom. If you carry a service beeper with you onto the showroom floor, most salesmen leave you alone. I held mine in front of my chest as I roamed the room.

While studying the window sticker of a Corolla I was a bit startled by a guy who crawled out of the front seat of one of those Toyota Jeep looking things. They call ‘em FJ Cruisers. Probably stands for something.

I was tempted to say something cute like, “That’s one quiet vehicle. I barely heard you drive up.” But the guy looked almost sophisticated. He was a little older than me and looked a whole lot wiser. Some people just carry themselves that way.

I ended up saying, “Looks like a formidable vehicle.” He smiled back. He knew someone who owned an FJ. The only thing bad he had to say about it was the gas mileage. Something to do with it being a heavy, four-wheel drive vehicle.

At this point I was ready to walk over and inspect the Camry, but the gentleman took the conversation up a notch. We were both killing time, so what the hey.

He started discussing fuel efficiency. He doesn’t think electric cars are the answer to the Country’s fuel problems. Not enough power. And, not enough electrical power plants to keep the things recharged.

No, we need to start taking advantage of natural gas. We’ve got more of the stuff in Alaska than we know what to do with. We keep pumping it out and then pumping it back in. I had no idea what that meant, but I smiled like I did.

And it’s safe, too. Not many people realize that when natural gas is liquefied it’s one of the safest of all fuels. You’ve gotta get it real cold to keep it liquid. Once you get it there, it’s safe as can be.

I was gonna let that go, but I just had to mention that most things are safe when they’re cold and contained. It’s when they have a leak that all heck breaks loose. The man didn’t argue or take a swing at me. He just nodded and said, “Yes, that’s true.” I like it when people don’t get mad when I question something.

After that he moved the conversation on to The Economy. The man recently sold a business that employed thousands of workers. He obviously knew about the workings of The Economy. Concerning the nation’s financial situation, he said that Ronald Reagan was our last great President.

When I’m standing in a car dealership in Conroe, I’m not stupid enough to question the greatness of Ronald Reagan. “Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall!”

Truth is, every president we ever had was responsible for some good stuff happening as well as some bad stuff. And, each had good stuff happen IN SPITE of his efforts as well as bad stuff.

I didn’t say any of that to the man. I just thought it. The man went on to say that the problem with this country is that there are no term limits. Nobody should serve more than two terms. And, we need to elect people who have no political experience. We don’t need politicians making our political decisions for us. He put it in smarter sounding words, but that’s what it meant.

While I was smiling, I was thinking “Elect people with no knowledge of politics to run a political institution. And, get ‘em out of office quick so they don’t have time to really mess things up.” Ingenious? Or lunacy? There’s a fine line sometimes.

The man then said that—“Excuse me, sir, but we need to talk.” That’s what the service manager said to the guy before he could say what he was gonna say. Completely ended the discourse.

But, the man was polite as could be. He smiled and thanked me for the discussion (the listen) and then walked off with the manager.

During the visit, I heard no easy answers to anything. And, I shared few thoughts of my own. The only thing I accomplished was letting someone vent. I’ve found that if you can do that, you’ve pretty well done all you can do.

Everyone just needs to vent. It won’t change the economic, political or ecological landscape, but it’ll make you feel good. Make you think that at least one person has the answers. That’s a great feeling.

Me? All it takes is an oil change. Life is good when I get that thing behind me.


To view Brad and Mark’s latest restaurant review, click on the photo of the two goobers.

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