Monday, September 01, 2008

Engine Trouble

Overlapping to-do lists are great if you and your sister get along, can commit to multiple hours in the car and don't mind spending part of the time waiting for her to do overtly embarrassing things, like say, filling the cart with multiple bottles of 100% cranberry juice, Vagistat (Buy 2 get 1 free!), and bodily blocking the birth control aisle while holding two different brands of the same huge bottle of 'intimate warming liquid' and discussing the pros and cons of each in an affected valley girl accent while women with children in their carts give you both the evil eye and rattle quickly past after snatching maxi pad value packs off the shelf.

"So like, this one kind is like, sooo slippery! It really does, like, heat up and stuff. You could totally use it for anal."

Luckily, my sister and I meet the first two qualifications and only speak hypothetically about the third.

The last time we decided to take a joint foray into the world of errands, we found ourselves at Jiffy Lube in July waiting in a tiny, Easy Bake Oven called the Customer Lounge where we stared listlessly at the certificates on the walls and listened to the static on the grainy TV where occasionally Oprah would burst into definition and show us a morsel of whatever emotional feast she was instigating. A heavily tattooed mechanic already talked me into replacing a bunch of parts I didn't understand and we were instructed to "take it easy" until the time he could significantly lower my available credit balance and turn us loose.

We passed a 20-ounce Dr. Pepper back and forth between us and shifted our attention to a newly arrived vehicle pulling into the garage. A woman in her mid-30s stepped out, fanning herself with a piece of paper.

"There's something wrong with the air conditioning. It just blasts hot air and then the car overheats." There were rivulets of sweat running down her like mountain springs headed toward the sea.

"Wow ma'am, you could have opened the windows on the way over here," said Tattoo, stepping involuntarily back from the interior of the car. My sister and I smirked at each other.

The woman was instructed to join us in the Customer Lounge while they "got to the bottom of it", and we dutifully moved over one chair to keep the social balance from getting out of whack.

Not five minutes had passed before she was asked to come and take a look at something.

"I think we've discovered the problem," Tattoo held up her dipstick, a dingy athletic sock dangling from the end. He swung towards her. "Do you recognize this? It was wrapped around the air filter." She stepped back in surprise and exclaimed "How did that get there?" We busted up.

The bell went ding and Tattoo handed off the stick with the offending article of clothing to a colleague (who asked if she wanted the sock back before whipping it across the garage into the trash) and called me up to the desk to go over my charges. I just handed him my credit card. At least the woman knew what she was paying for- how would that be itemized? "Undergarment removal?" "Sock excision?" Maybe someday I'll find out for myself.