regular maintenance

Site Note: Speaking of regular maintenance, the site has just undergone some of its own. Along with significant code changes over the last week, today I dropped more RAM in the server, which now has triple the memory it did yesterday. What does that mean for MH? More speed, for one, since every operation doesn’t have to be paged to disk anymore…

knowing that my car, the plucky little saturn, was due for an oil change.. overdue.. past overdue.. i decided to take lunch one day last week and head to the jiffy lube for some routine maintenance, and taco bell for a quick lunch on the way back to the office.

taco bell’s bean burrito, by the way, should be classified as a drug delivery method by the FDA, and not simply a food item. whatever the bean-based goo is in there, it should be a controlled substance, prescribed by doctors as a laxative. those things are too potent to be available over-the-counter.

as i pulled into the jiffy-lube (the oil change establishment, not the taco bell) there were two cars ahead of me in line, both being worked on in the same bay. great, i thought, busy day, lunchtime, and they only have one bay running. so a technician i will refer to as gomer, who looked like nothing less than the long lost pyle brother, inquired as to the nature of my visit.

“i need an oil change”

“that it”

“yup. you only have one bay working?”

“nope. both running now.”

and so, he informed me, their crack squad of oil-soaked technicians would have me out of there in twenty minutes. leave it running. wait in the office.

and, as more lunch-breakers arrived, dropped off their cars, wandered into the office, i was smug in the knowledge that i was first in line. reading through the paltry excuse for a local paper, the even less informative and objective USA Today, and about half a dozen sports and gearhead magazines, i wondered when i would be notified my car was ready to go.

another technician came into the office, mumbling something about number seven. you number seven? seven? eventually he looked me in the eye, and asked me if i was mumble seven, at which point it dawned on me, he was asking for the driver of the saturn. me. good. i’m ready to go? not quite.

first, it was a requisite that befre they do any maintenance on my car, that i approve and see the condition of the pieces and parts mentioned. there were various pieces of metal and plastic. there was a printout. there were numbers. it was all very technical, though soaked with oil and antifreeze and thus illegible. mushmouth proceeded to tell me what exactly he recommended i pay him to do to my car.

i couldn’t understand a word of it, so i stopped him and, quite bluntly asked him to speak slowly, in english, and to enunciate so that i could understand him. honestly it sounded like he was talking around a wad of tobacco or a half-chewed sandwich. he slowed down enough for me to catch the words “flush” “radiator” “transmission” and a couple of prices, all ending in nine. i sensed he had asked me a question, but not sure exactly what.

“so you haven’t done anything to my car yet?”

“nope shir.”

“what have i been sitting in the office for twenty minutes waiting on?”


is it too much to ask for that people working in the services industry that need to communicate on a regular basis with customers, need to impart information, be able to do so in a manner that is understandable by the average english speaker? mushmouth’s long winded speech about the ills of my transmission was, though incomprehesible, seemed to be accurate. i don’t doubt the man’s technical savvy, nor his intelligence, only that, if he were in need of information from me, or in need of aid, that he could not have readily gotten it from me for the simple reason that i couldn’t understand two words of what he was saying.

“just do the oil change and air filter, like i asked for, and i’ll get the other stuff done somewhere else.” and i meant it. my brother’s a motorhead. i’m having him look at my car, and the oil-soaked list of recommended services, to determine just how much i should have done. i may be able to take apart and reassemble my computer blindfolded hanging upside down by my toes, but i’ll be damned if i know anything about my car’s transmission fluid or how to flush the radiator.

so, back to the office, to stand – my seat having been taken by the umpteenth lunchbreaker in line that day – for another twenty minutes, before another technician called me up to the desk to take my money and push me out the door. meanwhile, mushmouth and gomer have managed to start my car and jerkily navigate to the front parking lot, stalling it on their first attempt. they must not get a lot of manual transmissions.

for the duration of the five minute credit card transaction (since when did it cost $45 to get an oil change? maybe last time i had a coupon..) my car was left running, the door open, in the front parking lot on a busy street, teeming with foot traffic. if there are any car thieves reading this, hang out on the corner of western boulevard where the jiffy lube is. it’ll take you all of three seconds to get a car there. nice ones, too. why someone would bring the $40,000 lexus that was parked a few spots behind me in line to the jiffy-lube is beyond me.

i did finally manage to get to the taco bell, though, and for $4.44 i received two bean burritos and two hotsauce-delivery subsystems (soft tacos) and a medium drink at the drive-thru. all in less time than it took me to give, for the second time, all my name and address information to the jiffy boob behind the cash register. now that’s what i call service.

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