So Mom’s Retired, and I’m Totally Not Jealous…

I’m not jealous of my mom.

Last week, a friend of hers from work, who recently retired, called me and asked for my mother’s number and address. Apparently, she’d lost the information when she switched phones. While we were talking, she professed how excited she was for this new phase in her life and that she was looking forward to spending more time with my mom.

I guess I should mention Mom’s been retired a little over six months now. Yep, that was her Christmas present to herself: retirement…and a trip to the Rose Bowl.

Totally not jealous… totally.

Anyway, before we got off the phone, Mom’s friend again exclaimed that she was so relieved to finally be done with work and to not have that burden and stress always on her shoulders, and that she knows that retirement is going to be so fulfilling. Then she paused, as if waiting for me to agree with her, as if she expected me to say, “Yes, retirement is everything they say it is, everything it’s cracked up to be!”

Mind you, I was currently at work when she called.

So no, I have not experienced the bliss that is retirement. And the way this economy likes to cheat us degree-possessing millennials, I probably won’t know that elusive period of life called retirement for at least another 50 years.

God help me if I’m still working at age 75!

It can be quite annoying when I’m minding my own business, doing my work, or writing, or reading, or eating breakfast or lunch, or walking down the hall, or hell, even using the bathroom, and someone stops me to ask, “How’s your mom doing?”

I DON’T KNOW! 

While she is at home, lounging around, not lounging around, cooking, not cooking, planting a garden, not planting a garden, sweating in gym class, not sweating in gym class, taking spontaneous road trips to the beat to buy fresh fish,  not taking spontaneous road trips to the beat to buy fresh fish, blasting radio music, not blasting radio music…

…I’m at work. I have no idea what she’s doing, how she spends her day. One thing I do know: she ain’t working. Meanwhile, I’m trying my hardest not to curse people out, or cry from getting cursed out. The joys of working in customer service.

And I’m totally not jealous.

But I’ll admit, I was a little depressed when I left the house for work this morning. Not because it’s Monday. Although, no one would blame me—having to spend eight of the most precious hours in the day in a cold, gray office after such a beautiful and warm weekend, who wouldn’t get depressed about that?

But this morning, I was in a good mood before I got ready to leave. I didn’t sleep through my alarm (insert slap the snooze button twenty times) and woke up on time. I read several chapters from Psalms to receive encouragement and strength from God’s holy word. I packed my lunch—homemade chicken noodle soup I cooked the night before, and tuna salad (also homemade) spread on toast for breakfast. I got a laugh from some of the ridiculous cases on Judge Faith (in this episode, a woman sued her ex-boyfriend for a vacation he promised her when they were together). I watered my herb garden (unfortunately my cilantro died, but my mom, since she has the time now, bought be a new cilantro plant). I even packed some gym clothes and tennis shoes because I plan on going to Planet Fitness after work (my aunt seems to think I lost three pound since Memorial Day, because she’s gained it, so I want to spend about an hour on the elliptical just to make sure those pounds I apparently lost stay off).

Today was going to be a good day.

Then I walked past Mom’s room, and she was lying in the bed watching Iron Man.

I want to lie in bed and watch Iron Man. I don’t want to have to go to work when I could be lying in bed watching Iron Man!

But I’m not jealous.

Nope, totally not jealous.

 

Dear Jiffy Lube Mechanic

Dear Jiffy Lube Mechanic,

Remember me? I came by for an oil change on a rainy Wednesday afternoon around lunchtime the week before Memorial Day. You weren’t my first choice. I originally intended to spend my lunch break at the garage closest to my office, but when I turned the corner, the parking lot was completely full—everyone apparently having the same idea as I, to get last minute service work done on the car before holiday travel.

In comparison, your establishment looked closed, and I was tempted to turn around and go back to work, half my lunch break already wasted and I still hadn’t eaten, but you were leaning against the side of the building waiting for me. So I pulled in, and you approached my window, gestured for me to roll it down, and asked what you could do for me. I informed you that I only needed an oil change. You asked me the mileage on my car (around 61,000—I don’t do much driving), and listed for me the pricing options and complementary services you offer for every oil change, like breaks and lights check, tire pressure, windshield wipers, and vacuuming (which I really needed, since in the two and a half years I’ve had that car, I’ve never gotten the floors vacuumed).

While the men were under the car, took me aside to your computer and informed me the services my car was due for: transmission service for every 60,000 miles at $149, fuel filter change every 30,000 miles at $79. I wasn’t prepared to spend all that money when all I wanted was a basic oil change, and I’m still not so sure you weren’t just trying to sell me stuff, but I wrote it down, just in case, for future garage visits when I had the funds. However, you sold me on the new air filter and the more expensive oil change that would give me 7,500 miles, which meant my next oil change won’t be for at least another year with how often I drive, and you also offered me ten dollars off.

Is it common practice to tip mechanics? If so, you deserve at least twenty percent gratuity for such great customer service. Miles ahead of the garage I usually take my car.

I stayed in the waiting area inside while you worked on my car. I brought my writing journal along to do some character sketches and story outlines. I was participating in the Short Story a Day May Challenge, and I had also challenged myself to write a new short story for literary magazine submission. With May nearly over, I was successful in posting a new flash story on my blog every day, but I had yet to start on my new literary story. I wanted that to change, because believe it or not, It’s been almost two years since I’ve written for anything other than my blog. So doubt was seeping into my mind.

Then you came in to tell me my car was ready and saw me writing. You asked if I was a writer. After hesitating, I said yes. Claim it, I thought to myself. Don’t apologize, don’t make excuses, you are a writer. You are published. You asked me if any of my work was available for you to read, and I tore off a sheet of paper and quickly scribbled down the online magazines where some of my favorite stories are published. Like “Full Court Drama,” published in Agave Magazine, “Clouded Memories” in Cease, Cows, “Folly” in Minerva Rising’s “Sparrow’s Trill” issue. I also wrote the web address to my writing blog and gave the scrap paper to you.

You stayed while I paid the girl at the counter, then walked me out the door and to my car. That’s when you asked for my number. And while I’m not one to just give any guy my number, especially one I just met thirty minutes before, I gave you mine, not only because of all your help with my car, making me feel like I truly received service and didn’t just spend a bunch of money, but also because you showed more interest in my mind rather than my looks. You opened the driver’s door for me, let me in, and promised to call me soon, take me out sometime, eager to hear me read some of my stories to you. I left with a smile and much anticipation.

But you never called.

I thought maybe you were abiding by the rule—wait a few days to call, don’t appear too desperate and available, make them sweat a little.

But now it’s been two and half weeks, and while there’s still a possibility that you might call, my hope is stretching thin. I’m not mad . . . not really . . . just a little disappointed. I’m at a place in my life where I’m not interested in a romantic relationship, but I was really looking forward to making a new friend, someone who was supportive of my writing. I don’t have many friends like that, apart from my blogging family online.

What happened? Did you change your mind about me? Was getting my number just a bet between you and the other mechanics? Did you forget my name and lose my number amid your hundreds of contacts? That happened with a lady at church once. Maybe I mistakenly gave you the wrong number. Things like that slip my mind quite often—remembering my own phone number. If I did, believe me, it wasn’t on purpose. Maybe I gave you the right number, and you did call, but I didn’t answer. Because of the rise in scam phone calls, I don’t answer numbers I don’t recognize. But you could’ve texted me; I do answer those. It might’ve even been better if you’d called me while we were both standing by my car. I could’ve saved your number in my phone then.  At least I could’ve gotten your name. I’m sure you were wearing a nametag, but I don’t think I ever looked at it.

I guess my only option now, if I ever want to see you again, is to go back to Jiffy Lube, use the over due transmission service or fuel filter change as my excuse for my visit. But let’s be serious, I’m a bit of a penny pincher, and I probably won’t go back to a body shop until after I attend the “Getting to Know Your Vehicle” seminar that the Men’s Ministry at my church is hosting, just so I’m sure I understand all the maintenance work that’s required for my car to keep from over spending.

Also, I’m afraid you won’t remember me, and that would be so much more embarrassing.

So if you happen to read this, I’d like to say I’m still waiting for your call—maybe we could meet up to see Wonder Woman together—but if you’ve chosen not to continue your pursuit, it was really great meeting you. You seem like a great guy, and any woman, especially if she’s a single, insecure writer like me, would be lucky to have you as a friend.

Sincerely,

The car illiterate writer with the red Hyundai