Sunday, September 6, 2015

Car Maintenance by Charlie (from the Material Witness Series by Diane Vallere)

I guess it’s a good thing the people of San Ladrón don’t know how to change their own oil because if they did, I might be out of a job. But let’s face it. The way salons keep popping up around here says the women around here place a higher value on their hair and nails than their cars. Bully for me. I’m Charlie of Charlie’s Automotive. I’m tough, I’m independent, and I’m a girl. Woman. Whatever. I really don’t care what you call me as long as you call me when you need work done on your car, because that’s my specialty.

Which brings me to this: if you did know you were taking your car in for work, don’t you think you might clean it up a little? But people don’t. I’ve seen piles of trash stashed behind the driver’s seat. Recycling, too. I once found a pair of panties that didn’t belong to the dirt bag’s wife. Ask me to tell you the details sometime.

It’s like people operate on an out-of-sight-out-of-mind code. They move their trash to the car so the house seems clean, and then they go on about their business. I could probably work up a personality profile on any one of them based on the condition of their cars.

Most people don’t trust mechanics, which I just don’t get. Sure, we charge for labor. So do hairdressers, right? And people pay whatever they’re told. There’s no negotiating. And people tip! When’s the last time you tipped your mechanic? Yeah, that’s what I thought. People tip hairdressers even when they know they got a bad cut. Don’t even say it’s not true, because I see some of these people when they leave the salon, and honey, the mullet went out a looooong time ago.

You seem like a decent person, so I’m going to give you some free car advice. Oil changes? Yeah, you need them. Probably every five thousand miles. If you go to one of those fancy places that do it while you wait, they’ll tell you to do it more frequently. Of course they will—right? They’ll charge you double what I charge, too. Remember that. There are exceptions to every rule, like if you drive like a crazy person, live in the desert or the arctic zone, or cart a trailer around behind your car. Here in San Ladrón, California, where the weather hangs pretty consistently around seventy-five degrees and the most people pull behind their car is a kid on a skateboard who grabs their bumper 
when they’re not looking, you’re probably safe.

But if you hear a weird rattling sound, you better give me a call. Clean your car first. And don’t forget what I said about tipping. 


  1. I love this series! Thanks for the visit from Charlie!

  2. Thanks for that, Charlie! I've changed my oil every 5K every since Click and Clack told me to. I wish I lived nearer so I could take my Petey (that's my PT Cruiser) to you.