Getting to Jiffy Lube is easy. You just drive to it. When you arrive, you just stop your car kind of in front of the garage doors and wait for a guy to come out. He* will say, “Welcome to Jiffy Lube. There is coffee inside. Give me your keys.” You will be grateful for the coffee and to yourself, for being such a responsible adult that you are getting your oil changed only 1,500 miles after you were supposed to.
The waiting room smells like Jiffy Lube. You pump some coffee into a paper cup and fish a book from your purse. A Toni Morrison has been living there for longer than you’d care to admit, so you are pleased to have the chance to knock out a chapter. You sip your coffee, crack open the book, and get comfortable in your distressed leather chair.
“Excuse me, miss? Can you talk for a minute?”
It’s the friendly man who took your keys. Does he look worried? Is he about to tell you that your car has two weeks to live? No. He only wants to know which kind of oil change you want: the regular one, or the premium one that entitles you to free fluid top-offs between changes. Opt for the premium one. You have seen the puddles your car leaves; you’ll make the $10 back in no time. Also, they will vacuum the floors.
This is the only time you should say yes at Jiffy Lube. Yes to more fluids; yes to vacuuming.
You pick up your book again and work to remember what is going on with Violet and Joe.
“Excuse me, miss? Will you come with me a minute? We need to get you updated in the computer.”
Well, Jiffy Lube sure is speedy today. You follow the friendly man into the garage, where there is a computer kiosk between your car and another one. The friendly man begins asking you questions. Mostly they are easy: “Do you still live at this address?” Yes, you sure do. But these easy questions are just the lead-ins. This is going to be like a newspaper interview. They start with the easy stuff, build trust, and then go for the kill. The friendly man is about to ask increasingly blearingly complicated questions to confuse you into saying yes. You know this because, when you were 23, you were a reporter asking a lot of hard-hitting questions about charitable spaghetti dinners.
“The manufacturer suggests getting an oil filter change every tenth of a mile. Would you like an oil filter change?”
Just say no to this. You got a new oil filter once, and surely that is enough.
“I see that there’s a little bit of wear on your tires right here,” says the friendly man, pointing at a tire-looking spot on your tire. “Would you like to have your tires rotated, to improve their lifespan?”
Say no to this, too. Each time you drive, your tires rotate. You’ve got this.
Study the computer screen that changes with each question. There are visualizations that represent your mileage timeline, and each new screen has alarming red arrows pointing at your current mileage situation. Do not be alarmed. They are just arrows with red coloring. Continue to decline each offer that promises to make your car run better.
You return to the waiting room and refill your coffee. You sit down and open up your book again.
“Miss, your car is ready. I’ll get you taken care of right here.”
Already? You find your debit card and pay. When asked to rate your service, you circle ‘excellent’ on the receipt, not just because the friendly guy is watching but also because he was very friendly, and the coffee was good.
Now that your car has oil in it again, you’re free to drive off, secure in the knowledge that free top-offs await you for the next 3,000 miles. Still, you experience momentary disappointment. You don’t know any more about what’s going on with Violet and Joe, for the book has gone back into your purse. And there it will wait until the next time you have to wait for something, and the something arrives a little too jiffily.
* Are there women who work at Jiffy Lube, ever?