I kept track, glancing at the sticker stuck on the inside of my windshield every once in a while. The date on the sticker read 6-09-20. Don’t know why I’m secretly pleased when I get past 6-09-20 and my time is not up yet, like it’s a contest. It’s not. Still it pleases me nonetheless.
Had it not been for COVID this winter/spring/summer/fall (geesh) the Jeep would not have made it to 6-09-20. Lucky to make it to 5-1-20 because we would have tacked on a couple thousand miles with a trip to northwest Iowa in mid-April. Hubs brother Jimmy was diagnosed with acute leukemia and given days to live. We certainly would have driven to see him before he passed away, plus attend the funeral and visit with the family. (It’s odd-what a difference it makes when you don’t participate in the visitation/funeral. You’re left hanging without closure. Even more odd, knowing this, I want no service for myself. Maybe denying others closure? Don’t know or understand that either).
There were federal mandates about attending funerals. Basically the whole country was shut down. Who knows how many restaurants, gas stations, motels remained open? Plus we’re at that ‘vulnerable age’ and told to stay home at all costs. So the days ticked by with the Jeep tucked in the garage and rarely driven. I went to the grocery store about once a week, which felt like part vacation, part-if I leave my house I’m gonna die.
Finally, by September, 3 months later than usual, the Jeep was due for a oil change. Made an appointment at my dealership which is about 15 miles away. I grabbed my book and headed to Chelsea.
Drove through a service door, turned the car off and waited for the tech (Matt) to get my information. “What ‘cha in for?” (5 to 10 which I didn’t voice out loud) “I made an appointment to have my oil changed and my tires rotated. One of my tires has an issue. The right rear has a slow leak and my husband adds air every couple weeks, especially if the Jeep sits for a few days.” (Pandemic) “Ok, that’s going take some time, maybe an extra hour. You gonna wait or are you leaving it?” “I brought my book, I’ll just wait.”
I wander through the door to the customer waiting room, watch 3 minutes of those twin brothers who remodel. Lost interest and turned to my real time filler, John Sanford. (Only because I’m done with my Jack Reacher series. I’m so homesick for Jack. I feel like he’s my best bud who just moved across the country-without me. More on Jack later). After 90 minutes, Matt says my car is done. I have a coupon for a discount 4 pack of oil changes I slap on the counter. “Well this is gonna cost you more because the Jeep uses a semi-synthetic oil, and 6 quarts instead of 5.” “Umm, I got the last packet of 4 without any additional cost. What’s up with that?” He didn’t even try to explain his reasoning. Just tallied up my charges for the day. Ka-ching.
Gave me a copy of the service sheet to sign and hands me my keys. I walk out to the Jeep which is still dripping water from their complimentary wash. Nice. Turn the key and the ‘low tire’ warning starts flashing. Shut the Jeep down, walk back into the service department where Matt is sitting in the back office but the door is open. “Hey, my low tire warning light is on again.” “Don’t worry about it. After you drive a few miles, it will reset. Nothing to be alarmed about.” “Ok but it wasn’t on when I drove in today.”
Walk back to the Jeep, start it and realize it’s after 2 o’clock and I haven’t eaten today. (No I’m not one of those crazy people who say, oh I just forgot to eat. Trust me, I never forget to eat, but the car dealership is on a very busy road. Either I walk to a Big Boy (without sidewalks on uneven surfaces which is like expecting/accepting I’m gonna fall) or play ‘frogger’ trying to get to McDonald’s or Coney Island across the road. So I didn’t eat while I waited and waited for the car.
I go through the drive through, order, pay, get my McDouble and park the car and eat. Call the Hubs and let him know I’ll be home shortly. Start the car and listen to the low tire warning again. Drive a half mile to the stoplight, take a right and ease on to 94 west. As I merge, doing about 60, two more warning lights pop on. My red battery light and a big gold A with a circle around it. (This is a default button which turns your engine off when you are stopped/idling at a light. I detest it and disengage it every time I start the car. I learned to drive during the time where cars stalled frequently from rough idling, popped clutch, you name it. This gas saving device just conjures up bad memories for me).
About a mile ahead is an exit which goes right back to Chelsea and the dealership. So far I’ve driven about 4 miles since the oil change. I limp into town and about 2 blocks from the service door when I lose my power steering. (Another memory of some of the older cars from the 50’s I drove as a kid where turning the wheel took some effort). I wait for the automatic door to raise and smoke is pouring out beneath the hood. Stinks to high heaven. I turn it off and Matt-my dude lumbers up. I hand him the keys with, “when I arrived for a simple oil change and tire rotation my Jeep was running great with 26,000 miles. Now I have 3 warning lights, no power steering and it’s billowing smoke. Fix it.”
Forty five minutes later he brings me a small black circular (broken) wire thing and says, “this is an O-ring on the bottom of your new oil filter. It’s not supposed to be broken. Oil was leaking out all over your engine.” “I want a picture of that O-ring to send to my husband.” He obliges. He stands there for a couple minutes then says, “it’s gonna take awhile to check everything out and make sure there’s no damage. I’m gonna give you a Jeep Wrangler for the weekend while we work on the Cherokee. Call us on Monday. And I’m reimbursing your payment for the oil change. It’s free. So you still have 4 left on your plan.”
Jeep Wrangler’s are not for great grandmas. They’re high, huge, no room inside and the door feels like it’s made from tin. Or maybe aluminum foil. I didn’t dare to park in the garage for fear it was too big with the truck beside it. We drove to get an ice cream cone, otherwise it sat in the driveway for the duration of the weekend until Monday when I got word my Jeep was ready.
Matt assured me the Jeep was fine and still had 3 quarts of oil in it when I brought it back. They washed the engine numerous times with degreaser and taken it out for several test drives over the weekend. Hands me the keys and says, “you’re good to go. Sorry for the inconvenience.”
“Umm, there’s no paperwork?” “Ah, no, you want something?” “Yes I do.” Brings out a service sheet that says customer brought in a car with steering issues and smoking. “No, this isn’t going to work. I need documentation stating a brand new oil filter failed and leaked 3 quarts of oil out, interrupting my power steering after I’d driven it 5 miles. Total.” “Well that’s gonna take me awhile.” “Fine, I’ll wait.”
What’s the big deal? Isn’t the broken O-ring protecting the dealer because it was a faulty part? (Actually Hubs thinks the oil change guy just tightened it too far). With a second service sheet explanation in my hand a half hour later I start the Jeep and drive away. Sounds good, doesn’t smell or smoke and I notice the dealership has tacked on about 50 miles since I dropped it off the second time. Doubt if anyone was carousing around but merely testing it after degreasing, driving, rinse and repeat on Saturday and Monday.
We went out for supper for our anniversary a day late and drove to Lansing and back (maybe 75 miles cause I needed a sports store for a pair of New Balance shoes). Jeep’s running great (so far) and I’m hoping no permanent damage was done. But feel at least I’ve got the documentation needed if things with the Jeep go haywire that’s it’s not my fault. Crazy but sometimes it’s the simplest things…