AUTHOR: Beth TITLE: Wipers DATE: 2/25/2005 12:33:00 PM ----- BODY:
Let's get back to some more of my patented lighthearted retardation, shall we? It snowed last night, and so I was faced with the always-charming task of clearing off my car before I could leave for work, a fact that put me behind schedule slightly to begin with. I hollowed out small pockets of snow-less space around the windshield wipers first, as I always do, and then pulled the "arms" of the wipers into an upright position to get the blades away from the windshield glass, the better to more effectively clear the windshield and vents below. With me so far? I pulled the driver's side wiper out first. The blade of the wiper proceeded to fall off onto my hood. Well, shit. Okay, seriously, this pissed me off. A lot. Because it was so stupid. It was the stupidest thing that had ever happened to me in the history of things happening to me. It was so stupid, so little, and yet so completely prohibited me getting to work on time no matter which way I sliced it that it made me completely, if rather quietly, enraged. So I did what I do whenever I'm feeling that way, which is to call my father. "Well, ok. Describe the arm and the blade," he said. "Kay, there's a hook at the end of the arm, and there's a, uhm...uh...a, um...? swivelly thing? on the blade." Yeah, great, Beth. Swivelly thing. Your father may have taught automotive repair for many years and may be the world's expert on things which function mechanically, but "swivelly thing" isn't exactly handing him a blueprint. We struggled along for a while, with me attempting to sputter out some new description of the blade's attachment assembly, always coming out with some variation of "swivelly thing," be it "swivelly dealie," or "swivel doohickie" or "swivel type doodad." Try as I might, I simply lacked the ability to convey an image of this...swivelish device? to my dad over the phone. But we soldiered on anyway, my dad giving me suggestions, me trying them, each of them ending with me standing back slowly from the wiper arm and carefully letting go of the blade, and the blade hitting the hood of the car again with a cheerful "Clonk." Once we almost had it--I pried the blade back onto the hook effectively and it survived me letting go. It even survived me putting the arm back down onto the windshield per my dad's instructions. "Okay, now," my dad told me. "Go in the car and try turning the wipers on". Thing flew off the car about ten feet on the first pass. "Hang on, lemme get [automotive guy at his school] on the phone," my dad said as soon as I stopped cursing, which is precisely when my phone died. Great. Have I mentioned that this was the stupidest thing that has ever happened to me, ever? It was so stupid it wasn't even worth getting mad about, which made me even madder. Finally, I cleared off the car, perhaps doing a more thorough job of it than was really necessary, but I can't stand people who can't be bothered to clean off the perfectly reachable roof of any vehicle smaller than an 18-wheeler, and so I refuse to be one myself, even if I am getting later for work by the nanosecond. Having assuaged my compulsions, I jumped in the car and headed out into the wider world with the windshield-wiper arm still standing upright from the windshield, as if my car was signalling, "Please help us. My owner has completely lost her mind." So, gritting my teeth, I did something I hate, something I hate even more than I hate the fact that a stupid windshield wiper was keeping me from getting to work on time: I had to pull a stereotypical female routine and pull into a gas station in order to find some large burly strong smart MAN to fix my problem for me. Normally I pride myself on the fact that I am not a stereotypical female, especially when it comes to handling my possessions of a mechanical nature. I check my own oil, inflate my own tires, refill my own fluids when necessary, could change a tire if forced, know the difference between the transmission and the exhaust, and know enough about the car to at least know when a mechanic (or, more often, Jiffy Lube service technician) is trying to screw me. But here I was. I might as well have been batting my eyelashes like Betty Boop. Because of a stupid, stupid, STUPID windshield wiper. I actually contemplated just driving all the way to work, or just pulling over again and working at it till I figured it out. But then I decided that even though being a stereotypical female is something I abhor, I was also not going to handle it like a stereotypical male and fuck around with it for three hours or until I broke something else simply to avoid having to ask for help. So I pulled into the Citgo station with the attached garage, where it turns out perhaps a working knowledge of windshield wipers is not an inherently gender-dictated trait after all, as the Citgo employee failed in his attempts to reattach the wiper blade also. Finally, my dad called back with the automotive guy on the line, and we went over it, and he informed me the blade was probably broken, and I'd need to go get a new one. This sent me on yet another detour in the already arduous journey of getting to work, and as it was already 7:30 and I hadn't left Lowell, it was now time to bite the bullet and call to say I'd be late, which was another painful experience given that I couldn't say anything impressive and automatically excusatory like, "I will be late this morning. I have been in a terrible accident / the front axle of my car is currently on the other side of the road / midgets have set fire to my house." No, I had to call up and say it was my windshield wiper, and in essence I really meant, "I will be late to work today because I am an inept female who doesn't care for her mechanical possessions properly and lacks the essential wherewithal to fix them independently when they inevitably malfunction." Fuck. Have I mentioned I hate that? It was getting on toward eight o'clock before I found a gas station / garage that was a) open and b) capable of fixing my problem. The men there were very nice about it, in that overly-cautious way men not used to encountering females in their daily work are; as I was paying one of them, a baby-faced mechanic in a full-body Car-Hart winter suit and Patriots hat, sucking on a Marlboro Light behind the greasy cash register, I said, "Wow, I wish I could smoke at work." "Where do you work?" he said. "Oh," I flapped my hand in annoyance. "I work in an office." "Hm." He nodded. Then, staring off out the window, he said mildly, "Yeah, I can smoke. But I still work at a gas station." Ouch.