I waited far too long the last time I needed an oil change. I think I drove for twelve thousand kilometers. Far too long.
When I had my car serviced, I learned that there was sparse amounts of oil left in the engine. A lot of it had simply burned off, and that is never a good thing. I was lucky I didn’t damage the engine.
I had a few minutes of spare time yesterday afternoon, and with a little bit of trepidation because of my previous experience, I decided to go to Mr. Lube for a quick oil change.
I assumed I would be in and out. Fifteen minutes, tops.
I waited patiently for about twenty minutes just to get in, trying to avoid the vape mists that were waffling into my car, from the gentleman that just was ahead of me.
It was finally my turn.
Sharad served me.
I was not very patient at that moment and I will admit that I was a touch irritated. I didn’t even try to pretend by giving courteous responses, or forcing a superficial smile. All I wanted was to get an oil change, to be out of there fast, and to spend no more than forty or fifty dollars.
Sharad kept talking and talking. He was upselling me.
He told me I needed an air filter. He told me my coolant was too acidic. He recommended a transmission service and a radiator flush.
He was not doing well. He was certainly not endearing himself to me and all I really wanted was some 10W20 oil.
He spoke very little by the end, but did ask me if it was ok if he checked the air conditioner filter.
My car has an air-conditioner filter, I thought? But I politely nodded yes.
I have been driving for over twenty-five years. I have known my car since 2009 when my dad bought it, and no mechanic or any other car specialist has ever recommended to check my air-conditioner filter, until now. It seems so obvious, yet I couldn’t believe I missed it.
Sharad opened the glove compartment of my car to get at the filter, which I still somehow thought was just a figment of his imagination. He pulled it out, and it was filthy. It was horribly disgusting.
There was at least half an inch of dirt, leaves, branches, and small rocks, covering the entire surface. It’s no wonder over the years that I had to crank the fan to maximum speeds, to even feel a farts breath of cool air.
Sharad shared with me that this was nothing. Last week he pulled out a mummified rat. A few months before a dead bird.
My irritation, my sense of haste, and any frustration I felt, had somehow left me without permission. I was suddenly overcome with a tremendous sense gratitude. Gratitude for Sharad and his professionalism. I was being a little bitch and he ignored my unpleasant temperament, and simply focused on what he needed to get done. He focused on what I needed, not on what I wanted.
Gratitude is extremely underrated.
I thanked him multiple times for his time and for putting up with me.
He said it was no bother. It was just part of his job.
By this point the forty-dollar oil job, had become a two-hundred-dollar invoice, and surprisingly, I somehow felt very comfortable with it. I would have paid more if I had to, just to experience that glorious rebirth of the cold air which was now flowing through my vents, with tremendous ease.
Sharad left me for a moment, and returned with his supervisor. The supervisor offered me a twenty-dollar discount. I paid. I said goodbye. I drove away.
What a powerful human weapon!
I came in for a quick and cheap oil change and I left having learned what a pain in the ass I can be. How little I know about cars. But most importantly, I had the grace to learn how powerful gratitude can be, and how great it feels. Gratitude is self-diffusive.
I want to be like Sharad.
I want to see people for their greatness, and not their deficiencies, mistakes, and failures. I don’t want to ever stop looking for the good in people, even if they resist, and try to drive me away.
Most important. I need to remain grateful.
Grateful for anything.
Grateful for everything.