implicity is not what it is supposed to be!
It seems the most menial of tasks not only take the most time, they can make you feel like you need professional help for ever believing they could be easy.
My wife asked me to pick up a new set of wiper blades the other day because the ones on her car barely made it through the last winter. I went to the nearest auto supply store to buy the wiper blades for a 2002 Toyota Camry. I might as well have gone on a search for the Holy Grail!
The book of wiper blades, yes I did say book, was hanging from a rack that held what I assumed to be every windshield wiper that been built since the days before cars had windshields. The numbers ranged from A-1 to ZZ’b-287C. After about an hour of attempting to figure out what number would fit my car, a young man aged about three came over and figured out which replacement wiper I should bring home.
When I got home I went to swap the old wiper blades for the new wiper blades, which I also thought would be pretty simple. I pulled up the wiper arm to remove the blade but, no matter what I tried, the blade would not be removed from the arm. After another hour had passed, I decided to look up the protocol for changing wiper blades in the driver’s manual that resided in the glove compartment of the car and had never been opened before.
Looking up in the index under ‘Windshield wipers’, I discovered that this was a task that required seven pages to describe. I am talking about the removal of the old blade here as the installation of the new blade took another five pages! I attempted to follow the instructions as to how to take off the old wiper blades and, when that also proved to be a total failure, I decided to use an old and trusted procedure for removing anything that has to be removed. I tore the thing off with a pair of pliers. By the way, my two favorite tools are my pliers and my hammer.
After selecting the correct tools from my toolbox, which looks very much like an old Budweiser box, I tried to remove the new wiper blades from the plastic container they came in. Because wiper blades are the most fragile items in the auto world, and not meant to be exposed to anything as unkind as the weather, the type of plastic that protects them could deflect bullets. I wondered if the people at Fort Knox knew about this stuff because they could probably use it to save money on steel doors.
After cutting most of my fingers and my tongue because I thought I might be able to bite the package open, I decided to use a pair of scissors. I finally got the package open but only after developing blisters the size of boiled eggs between my fingers. But, the package was now open.
Out fell two long black blades that had absolutely no means of attachment. Looking deeper into the package I found a small white rectangular box that was taped shut. What I thought was the top of the box turned out to be the bottom, because as I flipped up the cardboard cover the box literally self-destructed in my hand and out flew what looked like thousands of tiny plastic ‘things’ that were supposed to attach the wipers to the wiper arm of my wife’s car.
After collecting all the little black pieces of plastic I wondered why there were so many different types of wiper blades, since each box contained enough gizmos needed to attach the wiper blades on every automobile built since 1901 but I did not give up. After fiddling through most of the plastic pieces, I found two that looked like the ones I had ripped from the wiper arms.
I attached them carefully, feeling as if I should have a jeweler’s magnifying glass clenched in my eye because the pieces looked like they belonged in a wristwatch. I then attached the blades to the little plastic pieces that then attached to the wiper blade. To my amazement something made a clicking sound and it actually appeared that I had succeeded in attaching the blades to my wife’s car.
I was ecstatic, to say the least. I then copied what I had just done to the other wiper arm, and believing I had successfully attached the wiper blades to the wiper arms, called to my wife to observe my handiwork. At last I was on the way to challenging the often-expressed opinion of my wife’s family that she had married the most mechanically-inept man in America.
My wife, thinking that I must have injured myself, ran out into the garage with a look of concern on my face only to find me standing by the car with a victorious grin on my face.
“You mean you actually changed the wiper blades all by yourself?” she said.
“Of course!” I answered, as if offended by such incredulity. I then glanced up at the house and wondered if I should fix that crooked shingle on the absolute peek of the roof next.
Her next question was even more insulting.
“Do they still work?” she said.
I chuckled, opened the door to the car, turned on the ignition and clicked up the arm on the steering wheel that started the windshield wipers. The arms immediately swept across the windshield and fired both wiper blades into the air, one of which headed unerringly for my left eye. The rogue blade knocked off my glasses, which then smashed on the garage floor. At the same time my wife bent double and ran for the safety of the house before the second blade impaled her.
The wiper arms then moved back into position but because they no longer had any blades attached they made loud scratching noises across the windshield. I later found out that deep scratching noises will often leave deep scratches. The blades continued raking back and forth across the windshield until I was able to focus well enough with my one good eye to find the ignition key and stop the car.
The windshield wiper replacement blade cost $12.95. The corneal scratch cost $159.95, the new windshield cost $400.00, and my new set of glasses cost $159.00. One last expense was the installation of a new set of wiper blades that cost $12.00. The attendant at the car dealer wanted to give it to me for nothing but I insisted on paying him, because that kind of charity would only rub salt into my wounded pride.
I just hope I never have to change a tire!
When that deep scratching noise is your wounded pride by J. G. Fabiano
Jim Fabiano is a teacher and a writer living in York, Maine, USA
e-mail him at: firstname.lastname@example.org