That Pesky 'Oil Change Required' Light

By Katiedid Langrock

February 24, 2018 5 min read

"Just ignore that," the woman at the car rental place said.

I looked at the light-up orange icon. The words "Oil Change Required" were blinking on the dashboard. Surely, I thought to myself, she knows her rentals well enough to make that call — the way I know that my car can go another 23 miles before running out of gas after the "empty" light comes on and it dings at me. Or how I know that my bumper is the perfect height for fender benders that don't leave a scratch on either car — if I were to ever have one, I mean. Ahem.

We were finally getting the door fixed on my Chevy Traverse. Ages ago, while we were driving 55 mph through a construction zone on an interstate, a large plastic trash bin had hurtled at us and bashed into the passenger-side door. There was a large dent, and the door handle had been knocked off, making it impossible to open the door from the outside. For months, I have allowed stretching across the seat to open the door from the inside count as my daily yoga routine. It turns out that folks are right about how a daily asana practice increases positive thinking. Certainly, no one likes having her door bashed in, but the severe dent makes clear that had the bin hit a few inches higher, I would have had a face full of broken glass. And perhaps because of this grateful attitude, I felt little need to expedite the fixing of the dented door. It not only gave me a workout but also provided great resistance against would-be thieves by eliminating one of the doors they might have otherwise broken in through.

A few days ago, we experienced our first beautiful spring-ish day of 2018. All I wanted in life was some quality time outside. I put the car seats in the rental car and decided to pick my kids up from school a bit early. On the drive, I daydreamed about what we could do to enjoy our hours of sunlight and warmth. Would the kids want to head to the park or grab a bite to eat at the barbecue joint by the train tracks?

I slowly slipped from this reverie as the rental car slowly came to a stop. Against my will.

This is not my car. I have no idea why it suddenly died in the middle of the road. Perhaps the "Oil Change Required" light had something to do with it. But I was just supposed to ignore that.

I picked up my phone to call the folks at the rental place and ask them to send me a tow truck. That's when I saw my phone had only 3 percent battery left. As confidently as I know that my car can drive 23 miles after the gas light turns on, I know that my phone will die any moment after it hits 11 percent. The odds were not in my favor.

I called my husband instead. He would have to pick up the kids now, and I figured I could quickly explain to him where I was and have him take care of calling the rental place.

My phone was down to 2 percent when I dialed. He ignored my call.

I assumed he was on a work call, so I dialed his cell. He ignored my call. I called again. Ignored again.

My phone was at 1 percent. I called one more time. He answered with the words "I'm on a work call. Can I call you ba—"

"This is an emergency!" I yelled, trying to get him out of autopilot mode.

"Oh," he said, shaken. It worked. I had his attention.

"My car died, and my phone is about to die. Pick up the kids, and call the rental to send a tow truck. I'm at the corner of—"


The phone died.

It took a while, but I flagged down a driver, who let me use his phone. He didn't speak English, and the phone was all in Spanish, but we figured it out.

Then I sat on the curb and waited for the tow truck. Hadn't I said that all I wanted was some quality time outside?

I'm pretty sure we shouldn't have ignored the oil light.

Katiedid Langrock is author of the book "Stop Farting in the Pyramids," available at Like Katiedid Langrock on Facebook, at To find out more about her and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate webpage at

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