There was a time, way back when, that I could do basic maintenance on a car. Oh yeah, no problem tuning my very first car, a rather used 1964 Plymouth Valiant, complete with push button automatic transmission. No problem changing the starter motor in my "Smokey and the Bandit" type car, a 1973 Dodge Polara.
I was very good at oil changing, lube jobs and fiddling with my dipstick.
These days, cars are computers on wheels. Something goes wrong now and if I don't happen to have a mega expensive computer tuning thingy for my car, I have to rely on a mechanic to download new software, or whatever the hell they do, to get my car running properly. Oh how I remember the battery going flat in one of my previous computer cars. Not just a matter of replacing the battery, but a complete car computer retune just to have my car run efficiently.
Of course, when I take my latest car in for a simple check-up, the mechanic gives that concerned look and a sighing noise. This means that what should be a cheap repair turns into a funding for the mechanic's dream vacation in Hawaii.
Okay, I understand I cannot just fix cars the way I used to. However, something as simple as changing a brake light should be totally straightforward. Right? Well, no, actually. Check the car manual to double check how to change the brake light. Seems easy enough. Just remove two screws from the side of the brake cover and away I go. Wrong! What the manual doesn't explain is that there are mystery plugs holding the brake cover in place. Could I get the cover off? No fucking chance! Gone were the days of just opening some flap and changing the bulb.
Reluctantly and rather embarrassed, I headed off to the local car parts service centre. On the way there, I hit every red light. I shall return later and fix the red lights. Still, it's better than jumping red lights.
Upon my arrival, the guy in the service centre noted my accent. "Here we go again", I thought. Standing there, wearing a "Canada" baseball hat, the guy asks me "What part of the States you from, mate? I always wanted to go to the States and be among the American people." I replied, "I guess that means you want to go to Orlando to experience America." "Oh no, mate, Orlando is full of bloody British tourists! No, I want to get out into the small towns and see the real America." "Excellent! There's a trailer park in Alabama just waiting for y'all", I responded.
"Ever thought about going to Canada?", I asked the dude. "Yeah, that would be okay, I guess. Oh, is that a Canadian accent you have? Can't tell the difference!" he confessed.
We go out to my car and he notes I drive a Chevrolet. "What a small Chevrolet. They'd laugh at your car over there. I mean, everything is bigger in the States, right mate?" I nod in agreement.
He tries to remove my brake light cover to get to the brake light. Like me, he has no joy. A fellow employee comes over to help him and still no joy. Both scratch their heads in unison. Various tools are grabbed to try and pry off the brake light cover. Still nothing. As luck would have it, the local tug-of-war team are strolling by. They attach a rope to one of the tools draping off my brake cover and give a mighty heave. Finally, the brake cover pops off.
Okay, I made up the part about the tug-of-war team. However, it took the two of them fifteen minutes to finally release the brake cover and put in a new brake light. Being so much fun, I thought it best they replace the other brake light just in case it was about to burn out.
Yes, another typical day in my rather surreal life. And yes, another posting done in rapid time without ever applying the virtual brake lights......