Dalton’s waving at me like I’m a pilot and he’s on a runway, except I’m a driver and this is Jiffy Lube. He’s motioning with both arms for me to drive over the black pit. Clearly, he can’t see my blood pressure rising. Usually, I park and get out and they take care of the rest. Not this time. This time he’s waving and watching my tires unaware of the panic setting in. He’s pointing left and I’m yanking the steering wheel right then left then right again. His whole body jolts suddenly to the left and I get it. He waves me forward. I compute the information through my eyes to my brain and act accordingly. I think. Then after moving a tiny inch, he starts frantically waving for me to go left again. It’s painful to feel my anxiety so intensely this quickly and then I hit a bump. I’m inching, bravely tapping the accelerator, but then I roll back a little. Tap, roll back.
“Gun it ma’am!” Dalton hollers at me.
I tap the pad and the engine revs because somehow, I’ve knocked the gear into neutral. “C’mon!” I breathe out.
“Gun it, ma’am!” Dalton hollers again.
“Be the you, you want to be right now!” I hiss to myself.
I do. I give the vehicle enough gas to get over the hump, roll into position, and put it in park. I’ve hardly lifted my hand from the center shift and Dalton’s at my window, blond waves flowing under his black cap, covering the side of his face and across his covid mask.
“Here for the same high mileage synthetic oil change?” He asks.
“That was so scary for me. I’ve never driven in—”
“No worries. Here for the same high mileage oil change?”
“Yes, and can you check my tires? The light came on that says the pressure is low.”
“Yes, yes, we can do all that. what’s the mileage at currently?”
I read each number carefully like I don’t know how to pronounce numbers past the one-hundred thousand mark. Every time I do this, I think what is happening in my brain right now? When he asks for me to pop the hood, I stare at the gas cap. Then I look at the little switch for dimming the console light. I rest my eyes for a long time on the area that opens to a cubby of sorts. Basically, I examine areas that are irrelevant until Dalton reaches in to pull the handle that releases the hood.
“No worries.” He says.
“Sorry, I did know where that was! I must have forgotten.”
I’m ready to hand over my entire vehicle when I notice the guy hovering over the pit across from me. He’s in his car. He’s put his seat back, feet up on the dash, totally chillaxing on his phone. This is what we do now. I think. We stay in our cars while they change the oil. As Dalton types something into the computer a short distance away, I notice a female has gone to lift the hood.
In all my years coming to Jiffy Lube, this is my first female helper. Delilah is her name. My body calms. I think it’s the internal shift from attention to self to attention to another. My hypersensitivity about doing everything wrong turns to curiosity about Delilah doing everything right. I can’t see her through the raised hood, but I can hear her voice call out vehicle lube language. I’m pretty sure she’s saying something like Yep, another full oil car in clean oil condition coming in because the maintenance light went on.
Like a flash of Dalton before her, Delilah is at my window.
“Can you start the car, please?”
“Sure.” I push the ignition button with my foot on the brake.
“Can you push lightly on the gas pedal?”
“Sure.” I triple-check that the car’s in neutral and rev the engine. “Is that good?” I ask. Her brown eyes are soft but intensely focused on my odometer or something. I can tell her business is as serious as her smooth ponytail. She tells me to give it one more tap. I do. Moments later, Delilah returns to show me clean oil on the stick and the level it rises to now.
“Looks great!” I say like she’s showing me a flower arrangement.
The experience is almost over and it feels like I just arrived. Matt checks me out in the tiny lobby that smells like melted tires. I was hoping his name would be Dirk or Daryl anything with a D. I think this right as Dalton appears behind him, again like a ninja—so fast—and pulls apart the crevices of my air filter to reveal debris and dried leaves. “We recommend a new one, ma’am.” He tells me with a quick jerk to move his loose curl out of his eye. “No, thanks. My truck used to get so bad that thing’d be black almost.” I say hoping he asks me more about my old truck. “No worries.” He says instead. Matt gives me my total and Dalton disappears. I go to put my credit card in the machine to pay and ask if this store is under new management.
“Why? What’s the situation, ma’am?” Matt asks quickly, making eye contact with me for the first time.
“No situation. It’s just a very different experience than the last time I was here.”
“When was that?”
“Maybe two years ago.”
“Oh, that explains it. I’ve been here a year, Dalton about seven months, and Delilah’s newer than that.”
“Well, I’m impressed! I want to write a review!” I say smiling. Conquering my fear to the beat of “no worries” set the tone. After reading Dalton and soon after Delilah on their nametags, I wrote Matt in as Daryl—from a distance of course. I guess getting full service from a Dalton, Delilah, and Daryl would have been going too far. Even without Daryl, I’ll be driving the extra mile in the future in the hopes of seeing these three again.
I thought about my review on the way home. I thought about Dalton holding the door for me and Delilah wishing me a good day, and Matt… well, Matt being Matt, and something clicked. We share a brief time in a small space. We shift the time and the space and the people, but it’s all very brief. Can we make each brevity pleasant? Can we leave ready to write a positive review?