Thursday, November 03, 2005

Greasy hands, late night car repair and friends....

Interesting evening last night...

My friend "PK" lives just down the road from work. She works for a major construction general contracting company and her current job site assignment is up north in a town about 50 miles away. Yesterday afternoon she calls me about 4:00 and tells me that he car is dead (starter is shot) and would I possibly be able to come and pick her up? Not one to leave a friend stranded 50 miles from home and her kids, I tell her that I will leave work in about 20 minutes and come pick her up.

As I am driving I call her and after some discussion around 'how are you going to get back to work', we decide to get a new starter and replace it on site. Now she has another Crown Vic, a year or two newer (that car is deader than dead) and was going to use the new starter off of that car however after a call to a parts shop she finds out that the starter cannot be used on the car she is driving.

So I go home, get changed and start grabbing tools.

2 socket sets
2 combination wrench sets
a special curved wrench for using on starters
hydrolic jack
jack stands
wheel chocks
extension cord (50')
halogen flood light
handhelp shop light
large rubber tarp for the ground to slide on under the car

So I stop and get the new starter and drive up to the site. I get there around 7:00 pm and start to work.

Being that it is a construction site the ground is not totally level. The spot where the car is dead is close to the site trailer, which is a good thing so I can get electricity for the lights, but the old pavement under the car is slightly 'convexed' and does not make it easy to get the jack under the frame. I am also a 'bigger' guy over the past year for obvious reasons (divorce, stress, long hours at work, etc.) and it does not make for an easy time of getting myself under the car, oh how I yearn for the days when I was in my 20's and beanpole thin......

Well it took approx 1 hr 45 mins to get the starter off. The first 30 to 45 mins was jacking up the car (using two jacks and jack stands), setting up the lights, checking everything out and getting off the bottom bolt. The rest of the time was a mixture of swearing, wanting to beat the auto designer, quiet reflection and thought, followed by more swearing, asking god to strike the guy who designed the placement of the starter dead where he stands, you know the drill, all this for trying to get the 'top' bolt off... I am trying to figure out which combination of sockets and extensions will work.

Oh yeah that special curved wrench for using on starters/alternators... 5/8" at one end and 9/16" at the other.... bolts to be removed are 1/2 "of course.

PK says that she has her own tools and will get out a longer extension that might help. She looks in the back of her car and comes back saying 'I'm gonna kill me a kid' at which point I know and she confirms that 'the fippin toolboxes are not there'....good thing I brought my own tools....

OK, I finally get the starter off. I go to put the new starter on and it takes me all of ......10 minutes...

Now, take the car off the jack stands, off the jacks (one of which, the hydrolic, has been destroyed as it is a 'jack in a box' and obviously not made to lift a 'real' car), put the tools away, and go to start the car......nothing. "PK" tells me that the battery was dead when she first tried to start the car after work.

So now we throw the jumper cables on and sit for about 20 mins trying to get the battery to charge. After this time all the car will do is 'click' the solenoid... the battery has obviously curled up and died.

So it's off to Wal-Mart to get a new one. The store is 4 miles away, by this time it is about 9:40 and the store closes at 10:00. Oh yeah, my gas tank is running on fumes as "PK" told me not to put gas in as she wanted to pay for my gas in exchange for driving up and helping her. So off to the 'Speedway' we go. After stopping and filling up the tank we go to Wal-Mart, I drop her off in front as it is now 9:55. I park and walk in and while walking towards the auto department the store announces that it is closed and please bring your purchases to the register.

PK is already back by the batteries but cannot get the code for the battery that we need as there is a couple standing at the rack who also need a battery, and they are using the electronic 'book' to figure out what they need, however there is a problem.....they obviously came across the border not too long ago, and barely speak english......let alone read it.... so they are punching buttons on the box like it is a 'leap-frog pad' for kids and will magically give them the answer

I found the paper manual and being that I understand the english language, in about 15 seconds found the code number. PK would of course been able to do the same thing, I just happened to find the manual first, as I wasn't going to wait for the other folks to learn the alphabet while at the same time impede the progress of two people who actually know what we are doing. So we grab the battery and head for the register.

While in line at the register two mennonite gentlemen in nice suits, white shirts and very nice 'fedoras' are in line ahead of us. Unfortunately someone else has noticed these two gentlemen. I do not know if I can describe this guy so that you get the picture but here goes.. 19 year old white male, jeans, white 'concert design' t-shirt, short dark hair with red highlights and a 'womans' red-brown short waisted 80's style leather jacket. To look at him you think 'white trash', then he opens his mouth and you KNOW 'white trash'.

This guy is talking on a cell phone to a girlfriend and is telling her that there is a guy about his age in a suit and a 'top hat'. Then he approaches the younger of the two and with cell phone in hand asks if he would tak to this girl on the phone as she dosen't believe that there is a guy in a top hat at Wal-Mart. The gentleman politely declines and tries to ignore this extremely ignorant guy in a womans coat, but this guy just stands there talking to his girlfriend and telling her that he is not lying and no he can't take a picture of the 'guy in the top hat' as he does not have a camera phone. Fianally this idiot just walks away. I was embarrased just listening to this idiot, but these two gentlemen handled the situation great.

So we pay for the battery and are on the way.

Once back at the site it takes 3 mins to take the old battery out and put the new one in. Keys in the starts....

So after 3 1/2 hours car is fixed and we are on the road to our respective is about 10:45......

I helped a friend who was in need of assistance and got my hands dirty in the process. As a guy that is a great feeling. However now I am looking forward to getting back to the house and talking a nice hot shower.

Now those of you who know me are aware that as a result of my divorce I had to sell my house. My folks were generous enough to offer me the opportuntity to move back home for a period of time and get back on my feet financially.

On the way back home I have a message from my dad. The sewer is backed up, the village sent out a crew to try and clear the line to the street (it gets clogged with tree roots) however they cannot get close enough to the house with the cutter that goes into the pipe (due to city regulations) and it is still clogged. So a plumber is going to have to come out to try and figure out what the problem is and that means that we can only use the water 'sparingly'.

So no shower for me.....grease up to my elbows....crap in my hair.... When I get home I end up using some waterless hand cleaner and paper towels. Not like a shower but hey at least I get most of the stuff off my hands, arms, face/forehead.

I go to sleep feeling tired but good, but without a shower I also feel like a used 'Q-tip'....


Blogger peachblossom said...

Ok...first of all I really appreciated the help I got last night from my friend Scott. Now about the battery escapade/fiasco...I would have had no problem getting the right battery and I was trying to wait politely for my turn. I also did not see the book hanging around the corner as it was very ragged and filthy. I am a very indpendent single woman, raising 3 children all on my own, who is very capable of fixing most things (if I would have had my tools) and would have figured out the battery size given a few minutes. but I do so very much appreciate the help last night.

All I can say in my defense is that I was tired, stressed out, worried about my kids, pissed at my Ex for the situation I was put in by him, and cold. Sorry to complain...just stating the facts.
We were both highly agitated with the nights progression and of course my ex was thrown in their for good measure a few times.

Anyway, I will close by saying that if you have a good friend...make sure they know exactly where they stand with you and how much they are appreciated by you. Great friends are so very hard to come by and you should always let them know they are special.

Thank you Scott...lyl

12:48 PM  

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