Monday, 9 November 2009

Beauty parlor, for men

Our car is moody, and that's at the best of times. Its favorite trick is not to start when you turn the ignition. But now we know that you have to try three or four times, sometimes hitting the accelerator instead of the brake to get things going. We think it objects to wet weather and also nighttime, maybe.

That said, it's gotten us across the country and up and down half of the West Coast.

We get it looked at every couple of thousand miles, to check that everything's working all right and to see whether anyone can figure out the ignition thing.

No one can.

Not even Oil Can Henry's, the best car-fixing place ever.

An Oregon-based business, Oil Can Henry's is staffed by men in bow ties who look like butlers and call you 'sir'. All that's missing is a fake British accent.

We had no idea.

When we pulled up to the company's Florence, Oregon branch, a rather rotund butler greeted us, handing us a newspaper ("for your enjoyment, sir") and a menu of treatments, including some combo deals.

"It's like a nail salon, for men!", exclaimed Daniel.

When it was our turn, we pulled into an immaculate garage and parked next to a video screen split in four showing a commercial for Oil Can Henry's (there seems to be a company academy, where butlers take classes and then graduate, all standing in a row!), the company logo, the chief butler next to our car and the junior butler working underneath our car - from a sort of basement level.

I read the paper, while Daniel looked over the menu, helpfully guided by our businesslike butler. They went through the list of oils - from basic to premium - performed tests on various fluids, the results of which were reflected in color marks indicating how badly they needed replacements, opened up everything that can be opened up on cars and tested the lights. We were offered two kinds of new windscreen wipers.

Meanwhile, the butlers sang observations and orders to each other, all communicating from their different levels, behind and in front of the car, and next to computers.

I asked Daniel if he thought they would break into a chorus and dance when it came time for us to leave. "Oh no, it's too masculine for that", he responded.

It was a dizzying experience. We all felt more beautiful afterwards.

We spent $240. We are kicking ourselves for not taking a photo. Because then it would have been 100% worth it. Even though the car's still not starting that well.

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