For the most part, I really like people. I like making new friends and I’m not too shy to introduce myself to strangers or strike up conversations in the grocery store if the mood feels right. Airplanes are my favorite place to make new friends. I think I even fell in love once. His name was Joe and we were flying to Seattle. It was magical. But that’s another story. Joe, if you’re reading this, we’ll always have Southwest Flight 376.
Living in L.A. can be a very isolating, dehumanizing experience. I try to pretend that I’m actually in a small town and so I frequent the same restaurants and grocery stores in hopes of building rapport with the clerks and wait staff. For awhile I had a favorite waiter at a sushi restaurant around the corner from my work. Howard was his name and I loved him. He would know my order and start it for me before I sat down. Sometimes he’d pull up a seat and we’d talk about his girlfriend troubles. Howard disappeared when the place got new management and I still feel resentful when I go in, but darn if they don’t have the best dynamite rolls in town. I also have a lady at the Mexican produce market that picks out my watermelons for me. It’s like a ten minute process where we both stand by the watermelons and she taps each one repeatedly listening for just the right sound of hollowness and eventually she finds the perfect melon and holds it up to me like a new baby.
So here’s the deal – because of my desire for connectivity and small- town-closeness-in-a-big-o’-city, I am having a really hard time with the guy at Jiffy Lube. No matter what happens, he will NOT remember me. I go in every few months for my oil change, I even stop in to have my oil topped off because my car’s really ghetto and has a crack in the oil pan and I haven’t had it fixed yet. But every time, he comes to my window and I say “HI!” like we’re old pals and consistently, without fail, he says, with a dismissive look, “You been here before?” And then I tell him, with a defeated tone, “Yes,” and this last time, I almost said, “Don’t you remember, You sprayed oil all over my window and the roof of my car and spent an hour wiping it off while I said, ‘Oh don’t worry about it!’ and you kept saying, ‘I hate when I do this!’?”
I didn’t shame him though. I refrained. I just have to come to terms with where we stand – I’m just another Honda to him.