Oil Changes, Respect, Routine, and Acceptance / by Michelle Cowan

Barely missed the rain! Had to get my oil changed today, so I left my car at the shop and rode my bike in to work. They called later to say my auto was ready for pick up, and I planned to either get a ride or take my bike after work. Well, I saw the clouds forming and then checked the weather. Storms were afoot in the afternoon.

So I hopped on my good old Raleigh and headed for the shop, where I was taken care of in due time. The rain started sprinkling as I turned into the parking lot, and minutes after I entered the building, it started pouring. Perfect timing if ever there was!

Anyway, I got out of there without spending too much. Final conclusion - and one that I've made dozens of times: I hate all car-related business. I go in guarding against being taken advantage of, which probably only increases the likelihood that they will try to do so. Energies, my friend. They always call with extra “recommendations” that I rarely take. This time, it was low washer fluid, bad battery, and tire rotation. Well, I have my own washer fluid for changing, I get free tire rotations at Discount Tire, and AutoZone will install a new battery free if I buy it there. There are also brake pads that need to be replaced, but my boyfriend assured me he would do that. (He also assured me that we would change the oil again this time, and it never happened. We’ll see… It’s a matter of time constraint.)

So, I hightailed it out of there and back to work. Another conclusion: I love it when my day has variance. I hate getting stuck in the same routine over and over. Well, today, I was free of that. Car work tends to do that for me – but it also causes tremendous stress. Positives and negatives to all. But what is the stress about?

Well, I have a driving desire to “stick it to the boys.” It’s always been that way. But the fact is, I don’t know that much about cars. I could very easily be taken advantage of in auto mechanic situations. So I put on a face. I immediately rebuff the car guys when they try to explain the car situation to me. I am fine when I ask friends, my dad, my boyfriend about cars. I want to know. They know I’m smart. I trust them to be smarter in this area than me. But with the car guys, I have to show them. I don’t want to hear their reasons. I just want them to change everything out and be done with it. Do what I say and move on.

So I do whatever I can to prove I am capable. And that includes taking my bike. I like that I refuse their offers to help me load my bike into my car and then dazzle them with how quickly I remove the tire and slide it in. I feel like I win a bit of respect when I ride of on my wheels or when I return and handle things smoothly. With auto work, I feel like my bike is my only asset. It allows me freedom beyond my automobile and a trump card outside the car guys' expertise. Maybe it’s a sort of leveler.

It all takes me back to high school. I worked out with the men’s cross country team once a week. This always thrilled me. Sometimes, I got to do it twice in a week. There were only one or two guys I couldn’t beat, and I truly relished that. Plus, it made me better to be pushed a little harder. We were a smaller program, but still AAAA (if you know the Texas system). I was good, and I liked affirmation of that – and respect.

I’m constantly craving respect. And I try to get it from any source. I wanted it from the car guys, but it’s so hard to get when I know significantly less about the subject matter than they do. It’s the same in regular conversation. In my topic areas of expertise, I feel comfortable. Only if I can treat the situation as a learning experience am I content with times when I’m completely out of my element.

I have to give myself a pat on the back here, though. In the past year, I have been repeatedly pulled into new territory. I’ve changed groups of friends, moving in and out of different groups and subcultures. I have learned more about cars and climbing and bikes and cooking and Asia and spirituality and traveling than I ever thought possible. My horizons have been expanded. And I find that I savor the learning.

It’s just that the mechanic shop adds a financial quotient to the mix. I do not want to be ripped off. I am suspicious of them, and that wrecks the trust required in a learning experience. I want to trust the person telling me information enough that I can accept that he or she or I might be wrong, and I still listen. I don’t want to feel like the other person is giving me a fully one-sided view designed to take me down.

So – for today, I am trying to win respect and have variance in my routine. I need to do different things. I’ve been wanting to do nothing but hole up in my apartment and eat or cry or feel or...I'm not sure at this point. It’s odd. I want a bit of solitude – although I welcome the love of my boyfriend or my family and fear the depression that often accompanies my alone time.

I crave one-on-one interaction most of all. The big party stuff is a bit tough right now. I also haven’t been seeking out as many new, off-the-wall events. There has been less cultural searching. I’m sitting and flowing right now. Hopefully, I will begin to branch out more soon. I want to continue going to gallery shows and movies and theater. It will be good. I trust myself to break out of the mold.

But for now, I seem to like sitting alone, exploring, riding my bike, going shopping. Just being alone. But still, there’s a nagging inside – what SHOULD I do? What is the BEST thing? These questions drive me insane! Like I can’t choose to do something (whether social or solitary) and that be okay. I trust a higher power to balance me out because I don’t know how to find balance. I think I just need to let it happen. I'm not sure of the next step.

I want new friends; I want to explore music more. I want to feel okay. But the bottom line is - all I have is now. This day is going well so far, so I pray for it to keep going.