Wednesday morning I went to work with David so I could keep the car for the day. I was not all that excited.
The wind had been howling all night, and it was still quite stormy. It was really early……. would the roads be icy? fully of crazy driviers? Well, no, they weren’t, as Yuzhno-Sakhalinsk is exception in it’s snow removal… and most people still were not on their way to work.
Probably the main reason I was unhappy was that I needed to take the car for an oil change, and hopefully, get a couple of small electrical problems looked at. No big deal, if you know where to go, and what to say when you get there. Unfortunately, I wasn’t sure of either.
There is a 24/7 car repair center on Lenin Street – so I headed there. at least, this way I wasn’t going back home, waiting an hour, and then heading out into the storm again. Snoopy was in the car, so we could go for a walk while the oil was being changed, maybe, and then I could just go home.
Just after 8 am I arrived. Marched up to the counter where there were three people standing chatting, each with “Manager” on their name tag. they just stood around – finally one came over. I said “Mashina (car) neft (Oil)” and looked at him hopefully. Blank look……… then in English “engine – oil change?” “Da, Yes” I nodded fiercely. “About twenty minutes” he said, and pointed across the room to another counter with a young man behind it.
Across I went – and the young man, also a Manager, sat playing on his computer………….. fingers wanting to drum on the counter…………. finally he said something unintelligible ( in Russian, of which I understood not a word). finally, I went and sat down. A fairly drunk man (you could smell him a mile away) who had been trying to talk to me, even though I kept on telling him, in Russian, that I didn’t understand, came and sat down beside me. Although I tried valiantly and quite rudely to concentrate on my phone, he continued to talk.
He finally said something I understood – he was from Iran, and wanted to know where I came from… “Ya Kanadka”. Then, he proceeded to tell me that I was like his mother. Somehow, that didn’t quite fit my image of myself.
At this point, I had finally translated the sign on the desk…….. and it all made sense, all but the drunk, that is. While they are open 24/7, they take a break from 8 – 8:30, and sure enough, I had arrived about 8:10.
Ha-ha – it was 8:30, and I scurried back to the desk, where I had figured out you ordered the parts for the repair you needed. Again, I tried “neft” and got no response – but there was a man there who spoke a bit of English, and he asked for my service book. I came back in with everything from the glove compartment. He took the Mobil-1 Oil booklet, and told me that they had the oil (0w-20) but not the filter, and he had no idea who might.
Back into the car…..what now? I decided that I would have to go out-of-town to the shop Alexey said did Ford repairs.
I had no idea where in Troitskoe it was, but at the far end of town, right along the highway, was an auto repair. Two men were clearing snow from the doors – and they waved me towards the AvtoMagazin – Car store. Armed with my Mobil booklet, away I went….. and knew to just ask about the filter, which is the same word in either language. No – not here either, but she could tell me where to go. Armed with her map, and the name of the shop Forum (Форем) off we went again. Snoopy was getting a bit tired of all this….. he had not even eaten yet.
Found it – struck gold! It was the Mobil Oil shop, so they would only do the oil change. I drove the car right in, and they started right away. They understood which oil I wanted, and smiled a little when I tried to pronounce “synthetic”…..the word is much the same as English but has way too many extra syllables and “k’s”.
They don’t use the word “neft” for engine oil……… they use “masla” – which is the same as for cooking oil! Go figure. Total time – three hours, and we were going home – no other repairs, but that would have to wait for another day.
I’d had enough adventures in the wonderful, frustrating land of not understanding. And Snoopy was starving!