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Oil Can Henry's

Updated on May 26, 2020

Not long after I moved to the bay, I awoke one morning remembering that I really needed to put windshield wiper fluid in my car. The pollen was terrible that year, and though what my car really needed was to be washed, I was satisfied with just being able to see out of the front window for my morning errands. I had big plans that day. I opened my hood, and there, sleeping like a hideous baby, lay a possum the size of a cat. I have to play the chick card here, by saying he was sleeping by one of the square parts in the car, either the engine, or the battery, I didn't take the time to ask, really. I closed the hood, rather calmly as I remember, but I knew I had to come up with a solution, so naturally I called my Dad--the Dad who happened to be three thousand miles away, and wasn't happy that I'd chosen to work this far from home in the first place. Once on the phone, my dad brought out the point, that there was nothing he could do about it from Maryland, and that even HE, my heroic father, could not take care of it over the phone. The nerve of this man. It took a little time for that to sink in, and when he suggested that I try to get the possum out of the hood with a broom, I suggested that he have his doctor check him for dementia. There was no way I was about to open that hood again. I went back up to my apartment to shower.

It was there in my apartment, that I realized I wasn't going to be able to take the rest of the day off, and I was considering taking the rest of my life off, while the possum stayed under my hood forever. I didn't know how he'd gotten in there, I didn't know how he'd get out. Now understand, what goes on under the hood of a car does not interest me in the slightest way; I have no idea what happens under there. Once the hood is closed, that's when all the cartoons begin. I imagine sharp, grinding objects maneuvering in various ways under the guide of a cartoon wizard, and I'm completely satisfied with that. As long as the thing starts and continues to run, I have no interest in how that happens. Because of this sound reasoning, and my wealth of automobile knowledge, I had no idea what would become of my new friend if I started the car. I didn't know if he could run inside the car, or if he'd get hacked up by all the cartoon machinery in the car? In my eyes, I was too new to the area to ask for favors, but I certainly was not going to try to get that possum out myself. I also knew that I would eventually have to go to work, or get groceries, or leave my apartment community by car. About a half hour of stewing over this, and I was able to come up with a solution.

It was time to get an oil change.

I know, I'm horrible for coming up with that, but at the time I just didn't see another way. I drove in calm, but very real, terror to the closest place to get your oil changed--Oil Can Henry's. I arrived to Oil Can Henry's in under 10 minutes, and found them to have only one other customer who was finishing up, and they told me to pull into the garage, over the pit where some of the mechanics were. A pale, and very lean, very tall guy opened my hood, while I cringed. He came calmly back to my window, and took my information. I was instantly so relieved. Clearly the possum had run out of the car sometime while I was getting ready in the morning, and I could even still make the appointment I had after the oil change. Maybe it was time for me to get an oil change anyway, who knows? It had all worked out! But then, somewhere around asking my address, the tall guy started shrieking, and screaming like the shrillest princess I've ever heard. I realized my possum was still with us, but clearly, "whatever are you screaming at, sir?" was a much better response than, "yeah...I was going to mention that there might be a possum under my hood."

"THERE'S A POSSUM BY YOUR ENGINE!" He screamed. So that was the engine he was sleeping by, not the battery. I learned something. I was thinking he was going to need to change his pants he was so scared.

Actress that I can be, I attempted the role of frightened girl, though I had already made peace with the fact that there was a possum under my hood, still sleeping soundly I might add. The hood was still open. This mechanic who had tried to take my information, had no problems showing his feminine side as he cowered away, and went for help. Minutes later, he returned with a man whose name I never knew so I'm going to call him, "Grease-Stain Steve." Grease Stain Steve earns this name due to the large, circular, and almost mysterious grease stain on his white undershirt that covered his beer belly. The stain could have come from work, or a sandwich, and I liked that he could keep a girl guessing with that kind of sexy. I liked him. He came with insults, calling the guys in the garage pansies for calling animal control. The guys were too wrapped up in their hormone war to notice that I was very busy laughing at them quietly (from a safe distance), and that for a shocked and frightened girl, I was rather calm about the situation.

And so it began, man against beast. A lot of ideas went on the table about what the mode of attack would be, but somehow "sicking the hose on him" had won. I'm no animal-wrangler, but that seemed like a terrible idea to me. One mean-looking, tattooed mechanic, who looked as if he was late to role call at prison, swore he wasn't getting involved because "possums are vicious." I wanted to buy him a purse, and I couldn't believe he was actually willing to say that around all these men. He said it nonetheless, and after a few more insults, Grease Stain Steve went happily for the possum, armed with a hose.

Believe it or not, the possum really did not like being awakened by shooting water, and woke up in a fit, hissing towards the guys. The water drove the possum angrily into the pit underneath my car where some of the mechanics who hadn't volunteered to get involved in this whole thing were eating. I do not know what took place under there, but I do know that Grease Stain Steve went for the pit with a redneck howl, the cry of his people. He loved this! Whatever was going on in there lasted for about 10 minutes and sounded like an illegal circus where animals were making exhibitions of men. There was lots of yelling, lots of clamoring, and I really wasn't sure who was going to win. But Grease Stain Steve came up from the pit proudly saying how he'd eat the possum, and that there was nothing wrong with eating possum. He had, in fact, come up the victor.

I thanked everyone, in part for the rescue, but also for the sideshow. They changed my oil and gave me a discount.


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