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Wednesday, March 23, 2005

That's My Final Answer

This weekend I took Dolly to Oil Can Henry's for an oil change. They also washed or flushed or replaced the transmission. Whatever.

I remember the first time I saw an Oil Can Henry's after moving to Oregon from Texas. I thought it was a fast food restaurant with really greasy food. Thankfully, one of my friends must have told me it wasn't a restaurant before I made the embarrassing mistake of pulling in to order french fries and a milkshake.

The staff at Oil Can Henry's is very professional and congenial. I like to think that all of them are named Oil Can Henry, even though they have name tags that indicate otherwise. It's more fun to think of them all as Oil Can Henry. They wear bow ties and jaunty little hats. I like their old-fashioned uniforms, so that's why I don't go to Jiffy Lube. Visiting Oil Can Henry's makes me feel like I'm living in the good old days of yesteryear and driving an old jalopy. I need to buy some ragtime music so I can crank it up while having my car serviced.

Now, as I've already established, I'm very ignorant about cars. So I have learned to prepare for the barrage of questions I'm asked whenever I take my car for service. But the one question that always seems to throw me is, "Is your transmission Manual or Automatic?"

This weekend when Oil Can Henry (Bernie) asked me the question, I was caught completely off guard. I couldn't remember the right answer. So I pretended to be reading the menu of services. Very intently, I stared at the prices and various services. I think I started moving my lips silently, pretending to read. The entire time I was trying to remember the right answer, but I looked like I was just very engrossed in my reading.

"Think, Hot Toddy's Toaster Oven, THINK! Manual or automatic? Why don't they just ask if it's a stick shift or not? I know how to answer that one! It isn't a stick shift. But does that make it manual or automatic?! I mean, "Manual" means it is operated by hand. I have to use my hand to put the car into Drive or Reverse. So it could be manual. And when I drive a stick shift, I don't have to think about changing gears. It comes naturally. It's automatic. Damn it! What is the answer! I'll just tell him the opposite of what I think it is. That's probably the best way out of this good old-fashioned mess."

I looked up at Oil Can Henry Bernie. "I'm sorry. What did you ask me? I was reading."

"Manual or Automatic?"

I smiled smugly. "Oh, it's automatic." I waited to see if he would laugh at me. I imagined Oil Can Henry Roger and Oil Can Henry Jake and Oil Can Henry Susan all coming over to laugh and point at the idiot who answered the hardest question in the world incorrectly. But he just nodded. I got it right! I got it right!!

Inside my heart, I felt so proud.

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