car

The family that doesn’t really fight together?

My sister and I consider ourselves pretty funny. Okay, we consider ourselves REALLY funny. We sometimes joke that we should have our own reality show – the problem is, it would be 98% complete and utter boredom rounded off with 2% comedic brilliance.

We don’t exactly DO a lot of stuff.

And when those WACKY shenanigans DO happen, we’re sometimes too dry and nonplussed for what would be considered DRAMATIC REALITY TV. We also don’t really fight with each other. Or rather, if we do fight, it’s a cold war – everyone knows there are nukes, but no one is quite willing to be the one to set them off.

But mostly, we just get along. Even when things go pear-shaped

Take for example my burned fingers on Tuesday of last week. I burned them BADLY on the lawnmower. If this was a reality show, there would have been TEARS. AUDIBLE SOBBING. FRANTIC TRIP TO THE ER. TENSE MUSIC. EMOTIONAL UPHEAVAL. WOULD I EVER PLAY THE CELLO AGAIN???? WHAT ABOUT MY WRITING CAREER? WOULD I NEVER BE ABLE TO GET A MEDICAL DEGREE AND JOIN DOCTORS WITHOUT BORDERS???

What happened instead was, I ran for the cold water, soaked it and then decided this was not helping Jenge mow the lawn, so I held a cold piece of rock-gravel against the burn while we finished mowing the lawn.  Okay Jenge did the mowing. I watched and offered moral support, frantically dashing to get another rock when the one was holding wasn’t cold enough anymore. But I did help empty the bag! with my one good hand! We’d already started the lawn! It needed to be done! The next day was garbage day and I wanted to get that grass in there!.

Then we had a lackluster trip to the Shoppers Drug Mart for First Aid supplies [What about this one? No, I think that’s for sunburns. This one? Well, I think that’s just the no-name brand of this. Should we ask the pharmacist? IDK, that seems like a long line) and only when THAT didn’t to work, did we go to the Urgent Care center. Which is ANYTHING BUT URGENT. It was, like, 3 hrs of my sis and I sitting there on our phones for me to finally get called into the back and then for a nurse to finally say all they were going to do was put polysporin on it and send me home (REALLY WISH THEY’D SAID THAT WHEN I CHECKED IN). And then I STILL didn’t see a doctor! Actually that’s not true. One came in and said, “What have we here?” and I said “Burned fingers” and he said, “Are you Shelly?” and I said “No” and he left and I never saw another doctor again. After 3 hrs and then hearing the nurse say they would just bandage it and put poly on it, I checked myself out and had to sign an AMA [Against Medical Advice] form.

Then we went out to Jenge’s car and CLICK CLICK SPUTTER.

Again, in reality TV land, the car not starting at 10.30 at night after 3 hrs at Urgent care would be met with SHOUTING. CRIES OF OUTRAGE. SHOCKED FACES. WOULD WE NOT MAKE IT TO THE RANSOM DROP IN TIME? WAS SOMETHING RIGGED TO OUR CAR TO EXPLODE?

We turned and looked at each other. I shrugged. Jenge turned the key again and then she shrugged. She pushed the button on her radio. I pushed the button on the radio. She said, “I’ve been good to this car. Dammit. I took it for all it’s service appointments. I JUST GOT THE LETTER TODAY THAT SAID IT WAS PAID OFF.”

Me: Like, today-today?

Jenge: Like at 4pm today. I just opened it and was all happy it was finally paid off. It’s still sitting on the table. Figures. BASTARDS.

Me: That’s shitty. [clutches gauze to my fingertips – they still aren’t bandaged because I was going to do that AT HOME]

Jenge: [presses overhead light that won’t turn off now]: ugh. Do you have AMA?”

ME: [presses same light that jenge just pressed] No but I can sign you up online right now.

Jenge: Yeah.

Me: Well, we’ll call Darren [our bro in law], I guess.

Jenge: [shrugged again]: “Yeah. I guess so.”

So we called him. And he came out. There was no hollering. No shouting. No, “YOU BETTER GET HERE AND HELP US.” No GNASHING OF TEETH. The conversation was sorta like

Me: Um, Darren? You up?

Darren: Yeah, what’s up?

ME: We’re at the urgent care center and Jenge’s car won’t start. Can you come down?

Darren: Yep.

Me: We’re not sure what it is. Maybe we just need a boost. OR should we call AMA?

Darren: I’ll come down and take a look and then we’ll see. Be about ten minutes.

Me: Thanks, man.

Pretty anticlimactic.

So maybe we DON’T deserve our own reality show. At least, not on network TV. PBS? Can you only get a reality show if you fight desperately and meanly with your family?

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Oh Perry!

Perry was my car. He was my reliable boy. A ’97 Pontiac Grand Am. Six cylinders. Look at the hood on him!

Perry the Pontiac
Perry the Pontiac

He had issues. But so did I so it was okay. I spent a lot of time with Perry. To and from Vancouver. To and from work, to and from wherever I wanted to go. If I had Perry, I felt safe. It meant I could leave whenever I wanted.

Despite his issues, I found him strangely reliable. While I worried sometimes that he would leave me stranded, I never really thought he would do it, and he never did.

I knew pretty much how long I had once his “Low Gas” light came on, and I pushed it almost every time. I knew that when his gauges started flickering, he would settle out by Avenida [five minutes from my house]. He made a “thunkah clicka clicka” sound that only I heard, usually about 3 minutes into our morning drive. His windshield wipers weren’t so hot, and I didn’t like to replace them. I got talked into replacing them once, and they were WORSE after that so I left them mostly alone.

I could add coolant, oil and change all of his lights. I changed one of his tires once.

I ate in that car, dozed in that car, took smoke breaks from work in that car, cried in that car, drove the puppies in that car. I cursed his check engine light, on pretty much non stop for the last six years. I cringed when the ABS light came on. Or the coolant light. I would glare at the non-existent A/C.

But I knew how fast he could accelerate, and I knew how hard to hit the breaks. Sigh. I’m gonna miss him.

Don’t get me wrong, I love my new car, Johnny Fiama [pics to come soon]. He’s new. What’s not to like? He has air conditioning. He is clean. He smells like new car. But I haven’t yet bonded with him. I’m sure I will. I know we will be great friends. But new friends don’t ever replace old friends. They are just new.

Oh, Perry! I hope they didn’t scrap yard you! And if you did, I hope it was quick!

I have a degree, you know

And my degree is not in basket weaving or acrylic paints. It’s in something smarty mcsmarty pants – Math. So I’m not a slouch in the brains department. So WHY is it so hard to change my headlights?

I went out into the garage at 5 o’clock. I had 2 burned out headlights and one burned out signal light. [oh shut up, like you’re so perfect. So the left headlight has been dodgy for WEEKS but I thought it was part of my overall electrical problem. and when the left turn signal went, I thought, well hell, the lights on the left side of the car have always been dodgy and did I really need that turn signal? I would get around to it. But then my right headlight went. And I live in Calgary and it gets dark at, like, 4:30, so unless I wanted to leave for work at 9 and then leave for home at 3, I had to change them.]

I had to come back inside to get my socket wrench set. yes, I have one and it’s beautiful. I inherited it from Dad. Actually, I inherited all my tools except for my new screwdriver, which is also beautiful. My socket set has all the socket sizes you will ever need. Two wrenches and adapters. but it’s not organized because I got it from Dad. And he was not the most organized with his tools. I also got two tool boxes from him and I keep meaning to get around to organizing them, but I guess I inherited more from him than just his nose.

So, long story longer, AN HOUR LATER I’ve finally changed the headlights. I had to remove 4 bolts from each side, and then turn the light “one sixth of a turn counter clockwise.” No Joke. one sixth. and then I had to shimmy it and jiggle it until the light sprung free and then PRY it off the clip and then jam the new one on and my hands aren’t strong enough to snap it into place so I had to put gloves on so I could brace the lamp against the car and push down really hard.

I also need to replace the windsheild wipers but I’ve saving that until I get all the car grease out from underneath my gel nails.

And my story doesn’t even compare to the time my bro in law came over to help Jenge change her headlamp. I told Jenge she could do it, but little did I know that her cars design requires you to REMOVE PART OF THE ENGINE to get to the headlight. Luckily my bro in law has the tools and the knowledge to do this, but the simple act of changing a headlight took him 3 hours and left a scar on his hand.

My million dollar idea is to put the headlights in an assembly that doesn’t bolt shut. It locks. And it takes the SAME key that starts your engine. So when you need to change any of your lights, you simply pop your hood, or trunk, turn your car key in the assembly and it pops open and then you pull the burned out bulb out [which has turned black so you know it’s for sure burned out and not just loose] and you snap the new one back in and then hit the handy “Test” button that the manufacturers have also installed so you don’t have to jam the light in, hope it’s attached, jog to the driver door get in and start the car to see if your new lights work.

Next car repair, the aforementioned windsheild wipers. I can’t see out the passenger side, which really doesn’t bother me all that much. but now, I can barely see out the drivers side. I’ll keep you posted.