Last week I went somewhere to get my oil changed. There are only 8 things I hate worse than getting my oil changed (8. Moving, 7. My foot disease, 6. Wet locker room floors, 5. Animals, 4. The Blackberry Pearl, 3. Swimming laps in a pool, 2. Laundry, 1. Grocery Shopping). This is partly because I have no idea what I'm doing when I walk into these places. Normally I have a little pep-talk with myself before I go in, sometimes driving around the block two or three times to make sure I get through it. It usually goes something like this: "O.k. son. It's just an oil change. These people can't ruin your life unless you let them. It's o.k. to say 'no' if they offer you something you don't want. Be firm. You are a strong person. That doesn't have to change just because a bunch of men covered in grease are yelling at you using words you don't understand in a small dirty room that smells like popcorn, cars, and coffee. Why on Earth do they offer popcorn in there anyway? Do people actually dig a handful of oily popcorn out of that machine that clearly hasn't been cleaned since 1975 and has black fingerprints all up and down the sides? By the way, you need to stop by the grocery store on the way home and get some milk. Might as well pick up a couple of bags of Peanut M&M's while you're there. Oh, and apples."

Once the pep-talk has taken place, I go inside and do my best to make them think I know all about cars but I'm just having them change my oil because I'm too busy to do it myself. Employee then looks at my car for 3.2 seconds and then approaches me with a long list of things that he swears up and down have got to be fixed that day or several small children in China will die. Usually, in an attempt to feel like someone who actually takes care of his car, I choose one of the things on the list to agree to while declining the rest against employee's judgmental head shakes and warnings. I then sit down in the waiting room again with stale popcorn and girl with giant bump-it Utah hair who is screaming into a cell phone about how cute someone else's hair and shoes are. Then employee walks back in and calls out that they are finished with the Sentra. I pause for 23 seconds and look around the room to see if anyone else is going to claim it because I never can remember what kind of car I drive when I'm put on the spot like that in front of so many people. When I finally check out, I always end up paying somewhere around twice the amount I had anticipated. Oil change place, one. Eli, zero. I get into my car and before doing anything else I quickly study the new sticker they've placed on the windshield, telling me the exact date they expect to see me again. I consider it the new dooms day. Another day to dread, now months away. And I speed away promising myself next time will be different.

But last week something special happened, throwing me into a whole new routine. I stopped by the place on my way home from work. I was dressed in what I thought was classy business casual, complemented with my favorite green socks. When employee came into the waiting room to get me, he looked me up and down and said in a voice reserved for breaking bad news, "Oh, it must be laundry day."

Eli: Huh?
Employee: Laundry day. Because of how you're dressed.
Eli: Yeah . . . What?
Employee: Well I just mean . . . obviously you're wearing that.
Eli: You mean my green socks?
Employee: Oh yeah, the socks too.
Eli: Too?
Employee: No offense. I think it's great man! I love it when people dress however they want, whenever they want.
Eli: Well I don't dress like this all the time. I'm just coming from work.
Employee: Oooooooohhhhhhh. Do you work at a call center or somewhere where they don't care about how you look.
Eli: . . . So how's that oil change coming?

For obvious reasons, I would like to officially award "Oil Change Employee" the "Tellin-it-like-it-is" award.

Getting my oil changed is darn near moving between wet locker room floors and animals on my list of things I hate. Darn near it.

~It Just Gets Stranger