All that and he fixes cars too…
Published On: April 3, 2009

My car is, well, I don’t want to say elderly. Perhaps proto-vintage is a better term. He (His name is Theodoric and he does not truck with nicknames. In fact, he prefers you to use his full title, Theodoric King of the Ostrogoths, but I don’t encourage this.) will be ten this September. We have a complicated relationship. He’s not yet broken 60,000 miles, yet the total of his repair bills would basically finance a new car. I find this distressing. We’ve been in counseling, and seem to have reached an understanding, but, heeding the once burned twice shy theory of car maintenance, I still approach the mechanic’s shop with caution.

Theodoric just had his 50,000 mile service and passed with flying colors. He was rewarded with a nice soapy carwash of course. Alas, a few days after the service, I started noticing an exciting array of organic material whizzing out of the air vents. A pine needle to the cornea while zipping down the highway is rather distracting. Part of the service had involved a new air filter (or at least that’s what the sticker on the filthy thing they left on the seat in a plastic bag seemed to indicate). I called the mechanic and asked if the two could be related. He said something alarming about small animals building nests in cars which I promptly forgot (lest I suffer another fit of the vapors) and suggested I bring it in for them to take a look. I gathered up my courage (seriously, most mechanic’s trips run around $500) and headed in.

I had been assured it would be a 10-15 minute visit at most, so I planned to just wait. I had, of course, brought my knitting and proceeded to settle in and quietly knit. A few minutes into the wait, Mr. Dreadfully Important Businessman arrived. You could tell he was Dreadfully Important because he tried to cut in line and talked over the mechanic at least three times and was astonishingly huffy when he was told that his car would be ready at the agreed upon time, not at the instant he decided to show up. He flounced (seriously, best flouncing ever performed by a 40 year old bald guy in a suit, very amusing) over to the chair next to mine and proceeded to play with his four phones /organizers /electronic ego boosters.

These proved insufficient to hold his attention and he began to fidget and sigh. These were no ordinary sighs. They were truly epic. They involved every muscle in his body and stirred the leaves of the plant on the windowsill. These were pay – attention – to – me – lest – I – DIE – of – neglect sighs. Now it’s important to note that I have a younger sister. She, in her youth, was a master of this technique (sorry sis, you were a very sigh-prone six year old, mom will back me up). Thanks to heavy early exposure, I am generally immune to this tactic.

Sensing my resistance, Mr. Dreadfully Important Businessman changed his approach. He leaned way over into my personal space and asked what I was doing. Knitting, I replied. Not discouraged by my one word answer, he asked why. Because I like to, I answered. Then, further cementing my opinion of him, he asks “Oh, why don’t you do something useful instead?”

I glanced at his iphone, at that moment displaying his facebook page, then at another phone on which he seemed to be playing some sort of shooting game, then at him and said “Useful…like updating my facebook status and shooting aliens? Thank you, but I’ll pass.” He started to inflate preparatory to what would no doubt have been impressive blustering, but just the the mechanic came by to say my car was ready. Then, in a move that will forever endear him to me, the mechanic (having overheard the previous discussion) said rather loudly that he just loved handknit socks. Marvelous.

In a final stroke of good fortune, the detritus seemed to just have been crud shaken loose in the service and was not the result of nesting creatures. No charge to fix it.

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