Maddie and I were at Jiffy Lube the other day, where I was reminded that being a parent can have its perks.
I had planned this trip for a few days, and I was determined to carry it out. Even if something unexpected were to happen, like, say, oh I don’t know, Maddie FALLING ASLEEP ON THE WAY THERE. One moment she was chatting away, the next, BOOM, out like a light. This caught me way off guard because she rarely takes naps these days, she being the ripe old age of 4 1/2.
So there I was, driving like a zombie with Maddie snoozing in the back seat, unable to think of an alternate plan. That’s been happening a lot lately, by the way. Maybe because we have a 5 month old baby in the house. My brain can handle one big event each day, then it shuts down and just sits there, slowly humming and churning in hibernation mode.
I pulled into Jiffy Lube with a big dumb grin on my face, feeling successful, and vaguely wondering if they would notice the little girl sleeping in the back seat. Now, normally I would have let her sleep, but GOD DAMN IT I had been planning this trip for days and I had actually remembered the coupon this time and do you know how hard it is to find an open window of time to do this and I’m not sure when the next opportunity will be could be another week and you know this car is overdue for a tune-up…
Suddenly my door was opening. A young Jiffy Lube mechanic guy stood there.
“Hi, here for our signature service oil change, sir?”
“Why yes, yes I am,” I smiled.
We both looked in the back seat. I expected him to turn on me, to loudly expose and shame me. What kind of parent are you, bringing your sleeping child to an oil change?!
Instead he just motioned me inside.
“Umm, ok, I’ll be right back!” I rushed inside and knew that the gig was up. I would have to wake poor Maddie up, and she does not wake well, as they say. Sigh.
And then, the heavens opened up and there before me stood an angel. Or, a mom, actually. With a Jiffy Lube patch on her shirt. She ran through the service list with me, as they always do. And then she asked if I wanted to sit in the car with my daughter while they worked on it. Huh? Really? Oh yes, happens all the time. You could see it in her eyes, that parental empathy. What she was saying was, go ahead, I got your back. I didn’t see her wink, but it was as if she had.
So there I sat, reading the newspaper in the front seat of my car, Maddie gently snoring behind me, and Jiffy Lube employees hovering around the outside with all manner of pneumatic gear.
We are everywhere, us parents, in some of the most unexpected places. A vast underground network, invisible and all seeing. If you’re still for a moment you can hear the low murmur of our intention, and realize that the world is being driven by our needs. How wonderful it is to be a part of this secret society of parents.