For those of you brave souls still reading on Post #2, I bet you're wondering how getting the oil changed went. Thanks for asking! It was surprisingly wonderful thanks to Elspeth, Al, and my coupon.
Since I had to bring my car back to get the oil changed this morning, I had to leave early. Sufficiently grouchy, I drove way over the speed limit, but made "I'm-in-my-car-and-don't-even-know-what-you-look-like-but-I-think-our-cars-are-friends" friends with a white truck carrying a ladder, who kept trying to get ahead of me and failing. I think the failure part is probably why I found him so loveable.
Anyway, I made great time, and got to the dealership five minutes early - glory! Elspeth (a blonde, medium-height, slightly thick British lady with a giant wedding ring) had helped me yesterday, and I was glad to see her again. I was thrilled when she popped the hood of my car and poked her nose around - while in a boucle skirt, heels, and rhinestoned shirt. It was like the business casual version of Megan Fox's character in the Transformers movies (and thus way more sophisticated)! Women who know things about cars (admittedly, not me) are really cool, and women who do things like lift heavy boxes, inspect engines, or cook dinner in heels are a source of endless inspiration. Thus, Elspeth won a place in my heart forever, and made me wish I spent my summers rebuilding roadsters, instead of working at my office job (for those of you with roadsters, trust me when I say you want me to stay in the office).
Not only was Elspeth wonderful, but she had the luck of working with me on a day when I HAD A COUPON! Coupons are to the middle class what petri dishes are to penicillin. They give you a little more (quantity, quality, experience) for a little less (time, money, effort). My coupon was why I got to get my oil changed at the dealership instead of some scuzzy hole-in-the-wall (because when given the choice between spending money on clothes and on my car, I will always choose clothes. This is probably also why I will always admire women like Elspeth - they do both). My coupon gave me more than half off my oil change, and let me experience the classier side of the automotive world.
This included a FREE shuttle service - a blue minivan painted with the dealership logo and driven by Al, a man about the age where you retire if it's a good year and drive people to work if it's a recession. We didn't talk much on the way to my office, but he made an effort and it wasn't awkward. He was nice, genuine, and quiet - all the reassurance of a grandfather, without the armrest-gripping fear of a geriatric driver.
During work, I got free lunch (no really, I did - and you thought this was an economics blog!), and got a nice call from Elspeth telling me my car was ready, complimenting me on my voicemail message recording (I don't actually remember what it is, but people usually comment, so I leave it be), and giving me Al's number so he could pick me up.
Al was right on time, and we had a nice chat about professional sports on the way back to the dealership (I bluffed through most of it). When I got there, Elspeth took me inside to the cashier's window, which was tiled with "Wal-Mart tiles" (the kind that are intentionally made to look dirty so that you can never really say they're dirty) - it wasn't Orbitz-commercial-white, but it was clean.
While waiting to pay, I got once-overs from two young male auto techs, and one middle-aged male auto tech - all of whom implied that they wanted to have adventures in MY business casual. It was then that I appreciated not only coupons, but all the nice, classy people who worked there, like Al and Elspeth. They understood that car-related places tend to be scuzzy and that no one wants to feel a turtleneck in June is a necessity. So each took care to be classy in his or her own way - Elspeth in her heels, Al with his small talk. Thanks to them, the auto techs were the exception, and it was, dare I say it, a delightful day at the dealership.
I did all this in:
Gray wide-leg sailor-button pants (originally over $100, I got them at a store closing sale for $8!), short-sleeve cornflower blue button-down (tucked in), blue floral disk earrings, silver circle-link watch, silver ring with daisy pattern, and black and gray pointed-toe wingtip-inspired heels.