Stories From The Road: "Well, you don't look exceedingly rich…"

Last weekend while my mother’s husband and I were replacing my alternator he found my oil leak: two lines that went from the block above the filter to an oil cooler thingy beside the radiator. Which was really good, because ever since the last time I changed my oil a couple weeks ago the van has been leaking a lot (compared to the little that it normally leaks) and I thought I had a bigger problem. The reason for that, I discovered as I was crawling around under it, was the oil pan plug gasket thingy. This caused me to think I was crazy for a little while, because I could swear I made sure there was one when I was changing the oil and it was still there when I put it back on, but the way the oil was coming out I thought I must have lost it. Turns out it was just wore out. Anyways. While we were under there my mom’s husband also noticed that the gasket around my transmission pan was leaking and I needed new shocks in the front. Today was the day that he finally came back this way (my mom and her husband don’t live together: they prefer to visit each other on weekends) and he brought parts from town for my van. We did the oil stuff tonight. Actually, he did the oil stuff. All I had to do was clear out all the annoying plastic shit that’s in the way of getting to anything under the hood. Tomorrow he’s outta here, and I’m gonna escape, too. He said if he has time he’ll do my shocks at his shop in the little big city.

Since nothing interesting and blogable happened today, I thought I’d tell you guys about the time an exceedingly wealthy man gave me two gallons of oil.

It was when I lived in the bus, and my girlfriend and I were driving through Canada. All of a sudden the bus, which had never leaked a drop of oil in it’s life, started leaking half a gallon of oil a day. We were in that part of Canada where you pass a little gas station/laundromat/campground/restaurant every four or five hours, and have to pay $9 for a little thing of oil. We were also driving an ailing bus who’s top speed, going up hill, was 35mph. What is a two day drive in the van took almost a week in the bus.

We went through the two gallons of oil we had with us pretty quick. Eventually we found ourselves at a beautiful pull-out near the top of a mountain. We checked the oil and determined that we could not budge from that spot without more oil. With that decided, I made some tea and settled in to take in the view while my girlfriend started freaking out about being stranded on a mountain in Canada with no cell phone service. Eventually, a caravan of RV’s pulled in. They were those super expensive RV’s with multiple pop outs and extra shiny wheels, and they spit out four men wearing pleated khaki’s and golf shirts, and four women with big bleach blond hair. I know my men and I could see that these were men who would give me their oil. So my girlfriend hid in back of the bus (she was always afraid that the presence of a big tattoo’d butch woman would lower the odds of them giving me oil) while I wandered over, tea cup in hand.

The leader made himself known immediately. “You trying to sell us some coffee?” He laughed. Maybe it’s just from being a super sensitive paranoid stripper for so long, but I’m really sensitive to this kind of thing, the way some men structure conversation from the begining so that they are the ones with the money and the power.

I smile anyway, of course. “Actually I was hoping you might have some oil I could buy from you. I’m running kinda low.”

“What makes you think that, honey?”  He gives me the most patronising look ever.  See, normally this is where I’d get pissed, but I was trying to get oil.

“Um… the dipstick?” I giggled.

The men eyed each other and decided that they’d better come take a look.

First they had to get out their gloves so their hands wouldn’t get dirty, and then three of them gathered around my dipsticks, arguing about which one was oil. Luckily, the one who was right persevered and they decided to check my actual oil. I’m telling you, this was a process. Once they determined that my oil actually was really fucking low, the leader gave me a little lecture. “I don’t know what you think you’re doing driving this antiquated contraption through the wilderness, honey, but you need to check your oil. You need to check it every day, or you’re going to be stuck in the wilderness.”

I didn’t point out that I had checked it every day, I was stuck in the wilderness, and he was probably about to unstuck me. Instead I simpered and stroked his ego until he sent one of his underlings to get a couple gallons of oil from his rig.

“Thanks,” I said. “How much do you want for it? I’ve only got fifties in Canadian, but I’ve got American twenties.”

He looked me over. He looked my antiquated contraption over. “Well. You don’t look exceedingly rich. Just take it.”

I laughed. “Are you exceedingly rich?”

“I do own a couple dozen gas stations,” he told me.

You know what I did then. I told him where I would be dancing that summer, and a couple weeks later I found myself wiggling around in his lap for $800, explaining how offensive his condescending attitude was. He took my constructive criticism well, and came back to see me four more times while he was in town.


  1. Outstanding. Just outstanding, Tara. If only I could use your entries in my classes to help teach writing – but something tells me the same condescending, judgmental thinking would take over. Too bad, they’d write better if they read this stuff…. 😆

  2. You will have to tell me more about that guy…..maybe we will run into him in summer again 😉 ……luv your style!

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *