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.