I grew up in a car family. My dad was a HUGE car guy! He would always, and I mean ALWAYS be trading one car in for another. In fact, true story, one year my dad was told that if he traded his car in one more time he would have to apply for a dealership license. We got a lot of mileage (pun intended) out of that one. We were a pretty middle income kind of family so these were not high end vehicles by any means, but dad would find a great deal on an “oldie but goodie” and bring it home, excitement dancing in his eyes. It was like he could smell the paint fumes, hear the sound of the buffer and see the stains being whisked from the carpet even as he proudly leaned a hand against “her” (you never called a car an “it” in my home) upon her inaugural coast into our driveway. My dad would polish these cars up until they gleamed and he took great pride in maintaining that mint condition inside and out. Let’s just suffice it to say that we were a French fry free family. At least when it came to eating in the car. “ That’s why Mc Donalds has tables.” My dad was fond of saying.
At any rate, my dad raised us to know how to take care of our vehicles, but the crux of the thing was that while he wanted us to know how to check the oil, watch the tire pressure and monitor the gauges we always knew we weren’t really going to have to pay all that much attention because dad was always going to be on top of things. He sort of pathetically lived for a good oil change. Sad. I know.
Enter my husband. It is sometime in the early fall of last year. It is Sunday morning and my five skirted and Khaki clad children are piling into our Ford, Excursion. We are church bound. We roll rather lazily up the gravel road and onto the highway. We are a few miles from town yet when we begin to hear a very ominous CLUNK! Before I have time to wonder when the last time I had the oil changed the vehicle has already breathed it’s terrifying last. Steve looks at me in astonishment as he struggles to coast to the side of the highway sans power steering. “What could be wrong?”, he seems to ask wordlessly. Steve hops out of the car and pops the hood.
Now, my husband, bless his sweet and tender heart, is absolutely NOT a car guy. He is a man’s man. He hunts. He fishes. He farms. He runs a business. But the man doesn’t know a carburetor from a spark plug.
So for a moment I think I might be safe.
I am wrong.
You see the thought dawns on me fairly early on in this little scenario that perhaps I have forgotten to have the oil changed for a very, very, veeerrrryyy long time. I begin to wonder as Steve’s head disappears beneath the hood of the car, just how long it takes for an engine to actually be ruined by lack of oil.
About that long.
Steve gingerly pulls the dipstick from the oil receptacle thingy and I can see from a mile away that the thing is dry as the Sahara desert. I look away quickly hoping he won’t know what that means.
Steve stalks slowly…silently back into the car. “How long,” big sigh, “exactly” long pause, “Has it been since you have had this oil changed?”
“Well I’m not sure. I really can’t remember.”“Then, I would guess that’s been too long… wouldn’t you SAY?”
Steve was actually doing pretty well with things. He was remaining calm. He was in control, at least, until I said this… “Well, ya know, Steve I grew up in a car family. My dad just always took care of that kind of stuff. I’m just USED TO the man taking care of that.”
Steve looked at me a really, really long time before he screamed into the eerie silence that had descended over my usually rambunctious brood… “YOU HAVE BEEN MARRIED TO ME FOR 16 YEARS, CHERIE. YOU HAD BETTER START GETTING ‘USED TO’ SOMETHING DIFFERENT!”
I guess I sort of understood his point. At least over the next 15 minutes I began to understand. Something about “I don’t drive this car. You do.” And “What is so hard about making a little phone call?” helped to speed the comprehension process.
Well one new engine and a couple of weeks in the rental car from hell later I feel confident that I will not be putting 13,000 miles on an oil change ever again.
And, Dad if you’re watching from heaven. I’m sorry about that. The daughter of a car guy really should have known better.