Gettin’ My Truck on in the Motor City


20130918_094413Every day  in the Detroit Metro Area is an adventure.

Like last week.  I drove myself to the emergency room in the middle of the night thinking I had a kidney stone,  leaving my three kids to fend for themselves to get up and out the door for school.

This week, it was my car’s health that made for an interesting week.

Of course, these are the weeks my husband is on Japan on business. the plane can not jet across the skies fast enough to get him home.

Every day, people on the road see me coming because I am not ready to turn in my New York license plates.

You see, to save taxpayer dollars, Michiganders do not have plates on the front of their vehicle. So, when you drive a car from New York,  especially with the retro Orange and Blue old-style plates that hearken back to the gas guzzlers of the 1970’s you really stand out.

English: New

English: New “gold” New York State vehicle registration plate (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Because drivers can see me coming, the plates compel me to take on the role of an ambassador of the Empire State.  And this ambassador is a very courteous driver.

I leave intersections and shopping center driveways clear so my fellow drivers can exit and enter.

(Detroiters, have you ever tried to get out of the Trader Joe’s parking lot on Telegraph and Maple? How many of you keep that intersection clear? You know who I’m talking about.) 

I don’t tailgate.

I yield to pedestrians to cross the street, even the ones with canes, and don’t honk at them to hurry up.

All this to dispel the myth that all New York drivers are assholes.

I took my car in for a routine oil, lube and filter change the other day.

In the old days back in Brighton, I knew exactly who to use. I would leave my car at one of two reliable garages within walking distance from my home, use my coupon, and I knew my car was in reliable hands as I left for a walk,

So, I figured I would give the closest lube guys a chance. Lube Tech is about .7 miles from my house. It was a nice morning, the bike path is nearby and I was looking forward to a walk as my car got checked out.  For safety’s sake, I lock my co-pilot, my GPS system, in my glove compartment

It turns out Lube Tech is the kind of speed oil change places, where the work is done in less than 20 minutes. Fair enough, I’ll wait for my car in the tiny waiting room filled with magazines about cars and sports.

Then, a swarthy mechanic tells me that my car requires synthetic oil. Which of course is more expensive and I can’t use the coupon.

I’ve never used synthetic oil, please use the regular oil, please.

Ten minutes go by and the mechanic approaches me with a concerned look.

“Do you ever have problems taking your key out of the ignition?”

“Em, no, never. “

What is he talking about? I just drove my kid to school this morning?

“Because now the key doesn’t come out.”

Oh this can’t be good.

He tries again. I try. One of his associates tries. The key will start the car and turn her off, but won’t come out.

Next, another question:

“Have your power windows been giving you problems? Because they don’t work now either. And neither do your tail lights, ma’am.”

And I’m supposed to be PAYING for this?

So, now, I’m sitting in my car with a stuck key in the ignition and windows locked shut.  I’m a woman in a garage with four guys with my husband across the globe. And I don’t feel like paying for my oil change for some reason.

After giving them a piece of my New York mind, I drove off without paying. And I set out to locate my nearest Chevy dealer.

Now this would be easy if I could use my GPS. Too bad it is locked in my glove compartment. Locked with the key that won’t come out of my ignition. 

With a little know how, and recalling how my son taught me how to use Google Maps on my smart phone, I make it to the nearest Chevy dealer. Who reassured me that all is under warranty and they will provide me with a rental car, all paid for by the good people of General Motors.

I was hoping to not get a compact car, because on any given day I have to drive at least three kids around town, plus all their stuff.

Turns out the only GM car the rental place had available was the biggest “car” there is: A Chevy suburban.

The rental agent behind the counter, a woman, asked me if I can handle a vehicle this big.

Another rental agent looks up from his computer, raises his eyebrows and smiles at me: “Awww yeah girl, you can handle it.”

So, for a few days, while my car was being fixed for a problem that had NOTHING to do with the oil change,  I felt untouchable on the road. Completely confident on making that Michigan left on Telegraph. Or Woodward.

And what’s more, people still saw me coming.

Except this time, Detroiters thought I was from

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About stacylynngittleman

I have been a public relations professional and reporter -- and always thought I would live in the New York Metro area - before my husband took a job in Rochester, New York. Most in Metro New York can't find Rochester on a map,and neither could I before we moved. I am now a columnist and a freelance writer for Rochester's only daily newspaper, the Democrat & Chronicle. I also am passionate about gardening, fitness and most of all, Jewish education and Israel Advocacy. Here's my perspective on Western New York living - the good, the bad, and the snowy.

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