Hanging out at the garage.


Environmentalists have a very conflicted relationship with their cars. ~ Tom Arnold

I think I have one of those faces.  I’m not sure what it is.  Do I look friendly?  Do I look like everyone’s grandma?  Maybe I appear to be interested in what strangers have to say.  Do I look lonely, so they want to cheer me?  Perhaps they are lonely and need to talk, to share.  I’m sure I look fairly non-threatening.  In fact, I used to wish I were taller and bigger so I could threaten the occasional uncooperative student.  Since I had neither heft nor height, I had to put on my pleasant face and figure out creative ways to discipline.  Apparently that face has stayed with me.

So, what the heck am I talking about?!

I’m here at the Honda dealership for my routine maintenance and service.  My “caregiver” for the job today is Dave.  In these large garages, car service is “like a box of chocolates.”  I never know what I’ll get.  Some are grumpy.  Some are super-efficient, no-nonsense.  Some try too hard to be funny.  And then there’s Dave.

I think Honda service is Dave’s day job.  His other job is preacher/pastor.  His wife is an assistant principal at a school one county over.  She’s working toward a Ph.D.  She has several years before retirement.  The advanced degree will increase her current salary, and then her retirement benefits.

Dave and his wife celebrated their 20th anniversary recently and intend to grow old together.  He thinks they will make it because “God has his hand on” their marriage.  That means no man, nor woman, will be able to destroy it.  (Or “put it asunder” as Preacher Dave told me.)

Isn’t it shocking how much one can learn about a Dave in a five-minute check-in?  As I sit here in this state-of-the-art waiting room, looking at a grand and beautiful aquarium, I’m thinking maybe I should go find Dave before I check out and ask whether he has children and how Mama’s doing.

Oh, yeah, and why didn’t he invite me to his church?  I thought all preachers did that.  Maybe it was because I momentarily went on defense and told him I have a church already.  Am I sounding cynical?  I don’t mean to be a cynic, but I’ve learned that some over-zealous types can get pushy.  I didn’t want that.  Then our friendly tête-à-tête might have become not so friendly.

After about forty-five minutes, Dave quietly interrupted my writing to tell me my car needed clean power-steering fluid.  What?  I’ve never heard of it.  All I know about cars fits in a thimble.  He explained it to me.  Told me he could give me a discount because I’m a retired teacher.  Sweet.  I gave the go-ahead.

About twenty minutes later Preacher Dave came to tell me my car was ready.  I told him I had checked out power-steering fluid on the internet.  He smiled, raised an eyebrow, and inquired, “And…?”  I told him, “And… you were right, it did need to be changed.”  He said, “I wouldn’t mislead you, Ms. Patricia.  I wouldn’t be able to sleep at night if I did that.”

I believe him.  And it wasn’t my face after all.