The dreaded parts run

“I’m heading to the grocery store. Need anything?” I asked my husband last weekend.

“Yep, run by the auto store for me, will you?” he replied, then rolled his eyes at my look of horror. “Don’t worry, I’ll make you a list.”

And just like that, without any advance warning, my plans for the day took a scary turn. I was roped into a parts run.

The guys who work at the auto parts store we frequent in Slayton are very kind and patient. They don’t condescend, they are helpful and they understand that no one has a ton of money, so they try to get you the best deal they can.

It doesn’t matter. I still feel like an idiot every time I walk into a parts store.

I have basic auto knowledge, thanks to my dad and my three brothers. They wouldn’t let me get away with anything less. After I got my first car, the boys and Dad were firm about “showing me how to do it once, then you are on your own.” I learned to change my oil and flush the radiator and change a tire, along with a few other basic things.

Then I got married and was sent on parts runs instead.

So I walked into the parts store and two young men looked up at me.

“What can I help you with?” one asked.

“I have a list,” I answered, producing it with a flourish.

He looked it over and smiled.

“It must be oil change day,” he noted, and began to gather oil and filters.

It was indeed oil change day, which is Eric’s version of spring cleaning, along with rearranging everything in his garage for umpteenth time. His goal that day was to change the oil in all our main vehicles, plus the 1968 Fury III, the 4-wheeler and the lawn mower.

“You don’t happen to know what size motor is on the Lumina, do you?” the parts guy asked, looking at the list.

Geez, this is why I hate parts runs. I mean, I know there’s a motor in the car, but that is generally the extent of my knowledge. Except … deep thought, deep thought. Eric and his buddy had been chatting about cars and the Lumina the night before while we were hanging out in the garage. I remember, because I had asked them to please stop.

“It’s a 3100,” I said proudly.

“Hey, way to go,” the parts guy said with a smile.

Just then, another woman entered the store.

“What can I help you with?” the other parts guy asked.

Instead of answering, she pushed a button on her cell phone and said into the phone, “OK, I’m here.”

She listened for a moment, asked a few halting questions, then looked at her parts helper speculatively.

“Here,” she said, and handed him the phone.

I couldn’t help it. I started giggling. She looked over and smiled.

“Its oil change day,” she confided.

“I brought a list,” I admitted.

She hadn’t brought a list. Instead, she had been told to walk into the store and call home.

Just when I was feeling better about all this, my parts guy asked what size motor was in my son’s car. Well, um, er … I had no idea. And apparently the fact that the car is blue is not particularly helpful. I had to call home, which had the other woman giggling at me.

By the time I left, all four of us had chatted and laughed, and I walked out with a smile on my face.

I guess a parts run isn’t so bad. As long as I only have to do it once a year.