The Continuing Saga of the Upsell at Mr. Lube
They see me coming a mile away. They, the mechanics in their overalls, and I in my ponytail and SUV filled with car seats and crumbs. I steel myself for the upcoming battle of knowledge, or lack thereof on my part, and wonder how much they will take me for this time.
They impatiently wave me forward into their garage, and I inch along, for the umpteenth time cursing the width of my car. Plenty of room, he says, but his definition of plenty is different from mine – in mine, it is more than one inch.
Just the oil today, I tell him, trying to speak their language of brevity, and looking him straight in the eye as I do so. My eyes tell him, I may be a woman, but I am not a pushover. I am quite certain he gets this message, as I see his eyelids widen and then squint ever so slightly. He knows I’m on to him.
We go over my details, and I am dutifully up-sold on the type of oil my car requires. Not just standard issue for this baby, I get it. No need to explain.
He passes me a newspaper and a coffee – my favorite part, it always keeps me coming back. The promise of caffeine, news, and five minutes of peace. I dive into the news, gleefully dissecting the Life and Business sections. As though happening across an oasis in the desert. Just as I’m drunk on information, the mechanic taps on my window.
You do realize, he says sternly, you are 7,000 kilometers overdue for your transmission fuel replacement, as well as your rear differential fluid?
I’m forced to pause my news party and consider this. I have had a transmission drop out of a car once, and it wasn’t fun. I don’t fool around with transmissions. But the rear what? The last time I came in it was air filters, and they got me with the idea of my children breathing toxic fumes from the exhaust. But this sounded different.
Of course I pretended to know exactly what those things were. Oh yeah, those, I said casually, I knew they were coming up. And how much is it to replace those…fluids?
The figure he rambled off was roughly four times what I had expected to pay for my oil change. And do other people replace these fluids, I blurt out, blowing my cover and proving to him that I know nothing about cars, as he no doubt suspected from the beginning.
Well, people who properly maintain their cars do, he answers. Which of course resonates with me: knowing nothing about cars, I’d rather err on the side of proper maintenance.
Finally, I ask him how long this will take. He shrugs and says 15 minutes. I consider this. I have yet to peruse the Politics and News sections, I could put that fifteen minutes to good use. And then, the kicker: he will throw in a free car wash. Well, in that case…I tell him to go ahead. He does so, humming as he works.
As I leave the garage, I wonder if I am driving a well maintained vehicle, or if he is a commissioned salesperson laughing at me as I exit.