Monday, January 5, 2009

The Right Tools

Three days ago, 11 p.m. my son, who was supposed to be spending the night with a friend in Eureka, called. Something had gone wrong (friend got in trouble), and my son needed to come home.

He was waiting for me outside Winco, a creepy part of town at night for a number of reasons. And don't even ask about responsible adults and what were the other parents thinking? Welcome to my world, where I am still unfortunately dealing with Eureka's social ills surrounding adolescents.

I tore myself away from the coziness of the house and headed outside to the car. Stepping off the wooden front porch steps, my sturdy boots slipped a little. This was my first clue that the temperature had dropped dramatically. Second clue was when I tried to open my car door but found it frozen shut.

I set about defrosting everything, called my son and said "Sit tight, this might take awhile." I couldn't help thinking about how cold he must be, standing outside waiting for me, in his sweatshirt and jeans, which is as warmly dressed as he will ever get. Maybe this is why I rushed things.

When the ice on the windshield began to melt and two large circles of clear glass had appeared, I started the windshield wipers. An awful snap! The motor turned but the blades didn't move. I couldn't drive all the way to Eureka in this weather without wipers, nor could I leave my son stranded, especially in a place like Eureka at night.

Luckily for me, I have good friends. Lucy came in her great big truck, and we made an adventure out of it. There was my son, safe and sound, sitting on the bench just inside Winco, not having experienced a moment of harassment, thank God, from cops, managers, crackheads, gangsters or pervs.

However, now I am left with no windshield wipers in the rainy season.

Nevertheless I have a book, the Chilton guide, and a few tools (still in their packages). Fixing my own wipers could be like a celebration of independence, right? I read up, I looked the situation over and I procrastinated a couple of days. This morning, I put on a pair of grease-stained jeans my husband had left behind and a warm sweatshirt and headed out with my book.
But it was raining and I caved. I called the first auto shop in the yellow pages that had a Mack Town address and brought my trouble to experts.

It's a good thing I did, because when it came right down to it, the mechanic and I had to struggle to deal with this. It would have been a disheartening, frustrating fiasco if I had tried to do it alone. The entire mechanism had to be replaced. The thing was located under and inside a cover, 3 clamps, 11 bolts, 2 nuts and an electrical connection, and it took an act of physics to remove it from its little hiding place.
Lloyd, a scruffy old fellow with minimal people skills, very kindly taught me to replace a windshield wiper mechanism today. He taught me how to keep track of which side things go on when you pull something apart that has 2 sides and 14 parts; how not to lose the screws and nuts; and which tools it takes to get at the inconvenient angles. We had to drive to the wrecking yard to rescue the part from another car, in order to save me $100.

Lloyd was a good teacher. I wouldn't mind learning a few more things about cars. There is something rather peaceful about it, like gardening.

But here is what I really learned:

The secret to independence is the right tools. No shit. This is the God's honest truth.


Ernie Branscomb said...

I've always found something terrifying about a woman with tools.

Kristen said...

You mean it *isn't* hopes, dreams, and fervor?! Yep, while I LOVE chewing on the high of hopes, dreams, and fervor; therapy has taught me that you are correct: the correct tools--in all areas for living--is what it really takes to survive. But, for me, surviving turns into thriving when you mix the right tools with creative openness to the possibility ... OH, shoot, I am back in hopes and dreams!

Anyway, seriously, thanks for sharing the wisdom ... I'll carry it with me, truly.

I'm glad your son was kept gracefully safe :)

In Joy,

Indie said...

Don't worry, Ernie. Many of us would still prefer a nice, helpful guy to be wielding the tools. I would anyway.

But in the absence of nice, helpful guys, it sure pays to have a well stocked toolbox.

I know that's moved up on my priority list after today.

Anonymous said...

*lol* This was a good one K.! :) Being the independent woman in a relationship I am, I own my OWN toolbox, so we have two. Well, HIS is better equipped, BUT... I'm always ready! Ready to fix loose bolts in anything in my apartment, scrape things of walls, hammer in nails... you name it. But then again... what in the world do I have a partner if I do all these things on my own? Am I stupid or what? And it makes HIM feel so NOT needed if I would. So I gave up, pretend to be a helpless female and make him feel good. Ain't I nice.
For you my dear K., that was the first step into the right direction! You don't need a guy to do that!
Only good thing about us women is that WE DARE TO ASK FOR HELP, without loosing "our face" *lol*
I'm glad nothing happened to Skyler! And thanks to good friends who don't mind giving us a lift at nighttime, huh?
Take care, hugs, R.

Carol said...

I use to work on my 1969 VW Bug (years ago) and had The Idiots Guide to VW Repair.

Nowadays, I go to Dave's 76 in Fortuna. Dave is great! Replacing wiper blade is not very
expensive, but I guess it depends on which kind of car you have. Was it the mechanism that was broken?

Indie said...

Carol, if only it had just been a blade! No, what broke was the only plastic part of the assemblage, but it was built on to the metal, so the whole assemblage had to be replaced, everything bu the motor.

I had a '71 VW van back in the '80s and an Idiots Guide too! I rescued myself plenty back then, thanks to that guide. It was a lot easier to understand than the Chilton guide.

Kato said...

I've gone through enough baling wire and duct tape to realize too, that sometimes the right tool is the telephone...

Bravo to you for the courage to learn and further applause to the mechanic who aided your effort.

Ernie, what's really terrifying is a woman WITHOUT tools.

Indie said...

Kato wrote: "sometimes the right tool is the telephone... " LOL!! Exactly right! And thank you for the encouraging words.

Anonymous said...

If you're sure tools are the answer, go see "Gran Torino." You might learn something worthwhile.

Indie said...

Anonymous wrote: "You might learn something worthwhile." Umm, cool. I like learning things.

I read a review and what sounds the most interesting about it is its treatment of Hmong culture and gang issues. I haven't seen any other film that really talks about that.

I appreciate your film recommendations.