“You gotta get your lug nuts fixed or else when you get a flat tire you’re gonna be absolutely screwed,” scolds my dad two seconds into the phone call I placed two seconds after the the Walmart mechanic said the word “problem” not to me, but to my license-less boyfriend whose car it is not.
I don’t explain to him that I also have no idea how to change a flat tire so the lug nut problem would not be the number one issue to tackle in this imaginary scenario.
“I’ve never heard of a mechanic not being able to get lug nuts off,” Dad continues. “He’s never heard of a mechanic not being able to get lug nuts off,” I whisper to my boyfriend to convey to the mechanic.
“The lug nuts had to have come off when you got your brakes fixed!” Dad explains. “Tell him that the lug nuts had to have come off when I got my brakes fixed a bit ago,” I explain to my boyfriend to explain to the mechanic.
The mechanic makes the same “puh” noise he made when I first asked for snow tires instead of all seasons, and walks away. I walk over into the deer truck decal aisle. “So what’s he gonna do?” I ask my boyfriend.
“Probably nothing.” “I don’t think the mechanic is gonna do anything,” I tell my dad. I start to zone out over his lecture about all the things I should’ve demanded the mechanics to do before walking away. Suddenly, I’m back at the desk inside the used car place a single block away from my house, being handed the keys to test drive my car for the first time solo before I buy it. The ride around the block was the most stressful event of my life, mainly due to the 20 minutes that were spent parked in front of a Rite Aide, rehearsing what my dad told me to tell Moe, the mechanic, that I didn’t hear the brakes “catching” due to a loose “caliper” anymore but he needed to fix the headlight or no deal. Returning to the shop, parking completely sideways and somehow over both lines a centimeter from hitting two different minivans on either side of me, I march into the little office with $2000 in cash in my purse, determined to confront Moe.
After successfully chastising Moe (aka: politely asked to fix a singular problem and then immediately paid in advance, another action that would lead to a long, frustrated lecture from my father), I forged my mom’s signature on a few documents before getting ready to perform the respectable and masculine deal-sealing “put-er-there,” handshake I had practiced on my dog earlier that morning.
“I have a question,” he asks, ruining my mental script. “Actually two, unrelated to the car.”
My heart starts to physically hurt and I instinctively start to reach in my purse, searching wildly for my pepper spray which I should really start putting in its own certified area.
“I’ve been wondering this all week,” he smirks, my fingers still digging desperately in my bag for the tube-shape I’m looking for.
“I figured I would just go right out and say this to you,” lotion, lotion, chapstick, cool rock I found, no pepper spray.
“Is your age right on here and are you free tonight?” he asks with a sly chuckle tapping my ID.
My chronic apologizing syndrome kicks in with a litany of “sorry’s” and “I’m flattered but’s” attempting to convince this toothless man who has my address, a copy of my license, and both cell and work numbers written on three different documents in front of him that he is very, very, very sweet for asking and not creepy at all.
I brought my 6’8” little brother with me to pick the car up later. I’m back in the spray paint aisle of Walmart, my dad in my ear telling me to climb over the counter, grab the mechanic by his shirt, and demand him to hand me a wrench to get the lug nuts off myself, or something. He finishes by asking me if I could just take my car over to the guy I got an oil change from last week, the one with the fading neck tattoo of the naked lady silhouette best known for her role on semi-truck mud-flaps in movies; the one who offered to drive me home while I waited, and when I accepted said “Niiiice.”
“I’d really rather not,” I tell my dad. “I don’t understand why you have so much trouble taking care of this stuff yourself,” my three hundred pound, ex-bodybuilder, straight, white dad sighs.