It’s Tuesday at 7AM, and I’ve just admitted to Jim the Manager of the Honda Service Department that my last oil change was in June. Now my oil light is on (again). It’s lucky Jones [my car] and I made it here at all, if you want to know the truth.
The good news is that now I’m just hours from owning a working radio. Plus, the sign on the wall says “Free Car Wash!” This early-morning trip to the dealership is totally worth it.
But the radio is my most pressing issue. “My car battery died in June,” I say to Jim the Manager of the Honda Service Department. “And since then, my radio won’t work—not even the CD player. I guess I’m supposed to enter some sort of code to reprogram it?”
“We can do that for you,” he says. Then he rests his chin on his hands and raises an eyebrow. “You’ve been six months without a radio?”
“It’s been awful. Lots of long, silent drives to work.”
He shakes his head in mock-commiseration. “Ok, so you need an oil change. And a radio reset. You have two recalls, too—wiper motor, and [something else I can’t remember]. Anything else?”
“That free car wash would be lovely!” I gush. Because, truly, Jones needs it. Along with an intense interior scrub-down. Nasty.
Jim the Manger of the Honda Service Department smirks at me. Then he looks at the bored-looking guy next to him. “Mike. We runnin’ the car wash today?”
Mike doesn’t look away from the Deep Space he’s staring into. “It’s 10 degrees.”
Jim the Manger of the Honda Service Department looks back at me. “Too cold.”
I glance at Jones and sigh. Sorry, buddy, I think. No bathtime for you until spring.
I trudge through the slushy parking lot and pass Jones on my way to GB’s nameless car. Now that I feel like an idiot for asking about the Free Car Wash! in freezing weather, my nerves are rubbed raw from embarrassment.
When I open the passenger side door, I can see that my three guys aren’t faring much better. The small ones are hungry and bored. The big one is frazzled from trying to keep the small ones from crying.
“I’m sorry, guys!” I say. “Thanks for waiting. Let’s go home and I’ll make you breakfast before I start working.”
“You were in there so wooooooong!” O wails.
“Dat took forEVer, Mama,” H chimes in. And while I’m attempting to soothe them, this comes on the radio:
The Singing Dogs ~ Jingle Bells (via YouTube)
I’m almost embarrassed to admit this, but that’s really all it takes. Two happy guys in the back seat, one happy guy in the front, and me, crying with laughter. I think under usual circumstances, this song wouldn’t be funny. But it is today.
Even better, the next song is this—my favorite Christmas carol arrangement of all time:
Johnny Mercer & The Pied Pipers ~ Santa Claus is Coming to Town (via YouTube)
Happiness. There’s just nothing like a Big Band horn section.
Later, Jim the Manger of the Honda Service Department calls to say my battery is old and needs to be replaced. I think he feels badly about the Free Car Wash! thing, because he gives me a 15% discount “on the sly.”
I suspect he’s upselling me, and that the discount is his way of reconciling his guilt. But I don’t really care to test my theory by saying no and driving around with a dying battery. Instead, I’ll tell myself that he heard The Singing Dog’s version of Jingle Bells, too, and now he’s full of holiday cheer, and as a result this discount is Honda’s gift to me.
It’s a Christmas miracle.
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