Striking it Rich

Tuesday, October 24, 2006
I'm a suspicious and cynical person.

When my cat shows me too much love, I think about this medical study I read that said animals can smell cancer.

So when the cat plops down on my lap, that is an obvious indication of my undiagnosed pancreatic cancer. His paws on my chest signal a breast tumor. His nuzzles and cuddles and snuggles are a sure sign I am a diseased woman and he is trying to show me some affection before my untimely death.

That's the kind of person I am.

I don't just look a gift horse in the mouth. I pry the lips open, push the tongue around and dissect everything in there.

So I was nervous when the man at Jiffy Lube was far too kind to me.

The car was in and done within a half-hour. That was great. I was in a real hurry and had some other work to do.

But first, he said, they wanted to run the car through the car wash. Sure, I agreed. No biggie. How long could it take?

While I waited, I paid for the oil change with my credit card.

Suddenly the man got all weird and jittery. He ran out to check on the car, then came back inside, then went back out to the car.

"There's been a problem," he said. "The guy who put your car through the car wash didn't do it properly. I have to do it again."

"Actually, I need to get going. I'll just take the car as is."

"No, no, no. Please. We want to take care of you, and we want to do your car right. I insist."

"I don't think so ..."

The man grabbed my hands and looked into my eyes, almost tenderly.

"You deserve it," he said.

So there my vehicle went, back through the car wash.

A full half-hour later, I was reunited with the car. I was more than a little angry at that point, because even a Hot Wheel could make it through the automatic washer in five minutes flat.

I am sure that in this time, the Jiffy Lubers have ransacked the glove box, made copies of my keys, gone for some wacky joyride like the valet in Ferris Bueller.

And then I see my car. It looked as though it had been detailed with a toothbrush. My car has never been so clean, not even when I drove it off the new car lot.

From the driver's seat it was the same story. The floors were vacuumed. The windshield was flawless, wiped spotless even on the inside. Even the cup holders -- where my Americanos often splash over the side and leave dried splotches of coffee -- were immaculate. Clouds of new car air freshener hung near my head like a halo.

But there was more. Before I drove off, the Jiffy Lube man handed me a special VIP discount card for all my future purchases.

"Take care. Hope this is everything you hoped for an expected in your oil change experience," he said.


As I drove off in my sparkling car, I could see him waving until he became nothing more than a speck in my rearview mirror.

"Who cares why he did it?" Jason said later, while we were relaxing on the couch. "Maybe he was just being nice."

"But what did he do in there?" I said.

"Baby, you have a really clean car. Just enjoy it!"

The cat hopped into my lap and began rubbing his head on my abdomen.

"I think I know exactly what happened," I said.

"It's because of the tumor in my liver, isn't it?"