By Jerry Zezima
The Stamford Advocate
Early to rise and to the garage gets a man an oil change and a massage.
That new version of the old rhyme has been motoring through my mind since I found out firsthand (both hands, actually) that if your car needs work by a mechanic, your body might as well get a workout by a masseuse while you wait.
“It helps relieve stress when you get the bill,” explained Rich Heins, a service adviser at Mid-Island Hyundai in Centereach, N.Y. The dealership recently began giving free massages to customers who might stall, overheat or possibly even backfire as they contemplate the repairs being done on their vehicles.
“Are you going to put me on a lift?” I asked.
“No,” said Heins, “but we will put you in a massage chair.”
The stimulus program, he added, rubs customers the right way.
“And a lot of them could use it,” Heins said, noting that one guy needed repairs for a problem that could have gotten him rubbed out.
“He said that whenever his car went over a bump, it died,” Heins recalled. “So we looked at the car and found two bullet holes in it. One bullet hit the door handle and the other hit the harness and frayed the wiring, which caused the car to die whenever it went over a bump.”
“It’s a good thing the bullets didn’t cause the owner to die,” I said.
“I don’t know if he was in the car at the time of the shooting,” Heins continued, “but when I called and told him about the bullet holes, he said, ‘Oh, yeah, I know about them.’ Like it was an everyday occurrence.”
“Still,” I said, “that can make a guy tense. He must have needed a massage.”
“Do you have any bullet holes in your car?” Heins asked.
“No,” I replied. “But I need a massage anyway.”
I got one from Sarah Chen, a registered masseuse who was waiting for me in the lounge. I was her first customer of the day.
“You are going to enjoy this,” Sarah said.
She wasn’t kidding. After I had positioned myself so I was leaning forward in the massage chair, with my face sticking through a round opening in the headrest, Sarah began to work her magic on my neck, shoulders, arms and back. I was putty (and a fair amount of flab) in her hands.
She explained Chinese pressure points, which she knows all about, not only because she is a thorough professional, but because she is from China. She also is very nice.
“Am I hurting you?” she asked as she used her fingers, palms and elbows to loosen my muscles, which I keep in tiptop shape through a rigorous exercise program that generally involves walking to the refrigerator for beer.
“Mmmm,” I responded happily. “Not at all.”
“You’re very tight in the neck,” Sarah said.
“That’s because I’m a pain in the neck,” I explained.
Sarah then massaged my head, noting that I have hard hair and a soft skull.
“I always thought it was the other way around,” I said.
Speaking of my head, Sarah said that rubbing a pressure point on my left hand, next to the index finger, can stimulate my brain.
“If I’m feeling stupid, which happens every day, I can rub that spot and feel smarter?” I asked.
“Yes,” Sarah replied with a giggle.
The 20-minute session was one of the most sensational and sensuous experiences of my life. I felt great from my head to my toes, even though Sarah didn’t massage my feet. A good thing, too, because she probably would have passed out.
“Sarah was wonderful,” I told Heins when he gave me the bill, which came to $101 for an oil change, a state inspection, an air filter replacement and a left rear marker light replacement.
“I don’t feel any stress,” I said.
“That’s why we do this,” Heins said. “Bring your car in for regular maintenance. And get a massage every 3,000 miles.”
Copyright 2010 by Jerry Zezima