I will preface this by saying that I hope you all know I try to think and speak positively, in order to be uplifting rather than depressing. However, there are certain days that this cannot be maintained. Today, for instance, is an example of how things can go just a little bit wrong–and eventually completely overwhelm. Yes, I know, #firstworldproblems, but if you’d like to know why I’m sitting on my couch listening to indie music, burning incense and licking a spoonful of nutella, this has been my Sunday:
The story began, actually, on Thursday when I had my windshield replaced. That, in itself, was a month-long ordeal that I shall not go into describing here. What I will say is that that windshield had been cracked for three years, and I was proud of myself for finally taking care of it. I knew that I also needed an oil change, and was looking forward to being on top of my car maintenance, rather than behind. This morning, in addition to cleaning and homework, I had it on my to-do list to get my oil changed. I had also recently read that you can shine your headlights by scrubbing them with toothpaste, so I decided to try that today as well. I grabbed a rag, and then realized that I was actually almost out of toothpaste. I googled some more and saw a suggestion about using vinegar, but then remembered that I had some small toothpaste tubes in my travel toiletries box. (Yes, I have a travel toiletries box. You would too if you had my job). The winterfresh with baking soda worked just as promised, and I am hopeful that I will have brighter lights at night.
So, headlights scrubbed, I printed out an oil change coupon and started Suzuki. I was horrified to be greeted by what is colloquially known as the “check engine light”, but my manual refers to as the “emission” YOUR CAR IS GOING TO BREAK TO DEATH “something” notification light. I mean really, I don’t remember what it was but the description in there is frightening. Knowing that I was due for an oil change, I checked my oil level. It was at about half, so I went into an auto store to purchase some oil and top the levels off in hopes that the problem would be resolved. There were some mechanics working in the parking lot, and since I hate it when people make me feel inferior, I drove back home to pour it in. Only took me about two minutes to find the little latch to pull in order to open the hood (I clearly do that a lot), and then I poured the oil in and measured again. Full! Of course I set the cap on the hot engine (like you’re not supposed to do) and then dropped it in the grass. I waited for a few minutes and then headed to Lowe’s since I needed some things there, hoping that the oil would fix the problem.
I went to Lowe’s for the express purpose of purchasing two things: rust-oleum high heat paint for my BBQ, and those disposable de-humidifier dry-rid things that hang or sit in the closet. I found the spray easily. Perhaps too easily. The chemical/cleaning aisle was full of products, but there was no dry-rid to be found. Clearly the spring rains had prompted everyone else living in old units to purchase the items I needed before I was able to get them. I was a little disappointed that the products I needed were out, but I shook it off. After all they would be re-stocked soon, and I could always come back. But when I got back to Suzuki and she was still steadily displaying the check engine light I started to panic a little and made the choice to go down the google rabbit hole.
I learned that the light could be caused by anything from a loose gas cap to failed parts that could cause the car to stall and die forever. I got out and checked the gas cap. Rats–it was tight. I also learned that some stores will read the code that corresponds with the light for free. (I should mention that it was at this point I also learned that auto lights are tied to error codes that can be read. I am obviously very knowledgeable about auto mechanics). So I jetted on over to Auto Zone across the street from Lowes, also across the street from the other auto place I had purchased the oil from. They read my error code and told me what it was. Then, after I stared blankly at them, they explained that something was up with the oxygen sensor by the catalytic converter (does that sound vaguely like a real thing? I may have gotten that wrong). I was instructed to start by doing a fuel cleaning, as that could alleviate the problem, but if after a week the light was still illuminated I should contact a mechanic/the dealer to see what needed to be serviced. I also asked, twice for good measure, to make sure that if I waited a week to try this first thing if my engine would implode or explode or kill Suzuki for good. They said no, but that if I drove around for 6 months or a year I could cause irreparable damage to my catalytic converter (yup, I need to google that too). So I bought some fuel injector something from them, and crossed the street once more to Oil Can Henry’s for an oil change.
The car in front of me finished within minutes, and I was impressed at how quickly I would be able to get my oil changed. Then the worker knocked on my window and told me that since it was a first-come first-serve basis I needed to back up so that the car in the other line who had been there first could get in front of me. I was a little confused and overwhelmed by the car stuff, so rather than swap places with them, I pulled up behind them after they went in. Which would have been fine, except that the car in the left stall then finished I had to swap places with two other cars again because this time I was the first-come.
I decided that as long as they were changing my oil, they could do the fuel cleaner injector whatnot and I’d just save what I purchased for later. So that was going to take some time and be a bit more expensive. But then my transmission fluid needed replacing (and I actually believe them because I’ve never done it and I have put a ton of miles on poor Suzuki), and the air filter, and light bulbs for the license plate (again–surprise to me that my license plate needed light bulbs), so I got all of that and the cleany-mabobby. When the greeter announced to the mechanic in the pit that I was getting the injector whatnot the mechanic groaned and said “really?” I am not certain if this is because the mechanic didn’t like the type of work the required, the mechanic wanted a break, or if I am an idiot and no one really needs to buy the cleaning thing. Whatever. So they got the process started, and as he had to continually ask me questions I kept my window rolled down. This led to freezing cold air and rain coming in, for the better part of an hour.
The oil change went smoothly, as did the transmission fluid. The hang-up actually occurred in trying to change my license plate light bulbs. The mechanic took the entire back of the hatchback door off in order to access the light bulbs. At this point he also dropped a bolt down into the hole, and had to recruit someone to find it. He also dropped the inside of my door–a plastic panel–and that made a large clattering sound. He had to go back inside the main hut twice to find different tools, and at one point had someone look up my car in their database in order to figure out how to get the covers off of the bulbs. By the time the bulbs were replaced and my door was back in one piece, there had been a total of three mechanics consulted. There’s a dumb light bulb joke in there somewhere.
Impressively effusive clouds of white smoke came out of my exhaust for a while when the cleaning fuel was injected, so whether it was really cleaning out my system or was a cleverly conceived chemical reaction, I enjoyed it. Keeping your engine at 2000pms is kind of difficult when there are weird fluids being pumped through. So after a freezing hour and close to $200 later I was sent off on my way with the instructions to go fill up my tank and then drive on the freeway for a while.
I filled up, shivering, and needing horribly to pee. I figured I could drive to the mall exit and back and then head home, but I needed a coffee in order to warm me up. It was also three pm and I had yet to eat lunch. Anyone who knows me knows this is not a good idea. So, hangry, with a full bladder, and developing pneumonia I decided to go through the Cutter’s Point drive thru and get some hot coffee. I didn’t get close enough to the window, and kept having to lean out in order to pay. I also had to ask the barista to put a dollar in the tip jar from my change, because I couldn’t reach. Speaking of change, I unzipped the back pocket on my wallet knowing that since I paid in cash I would be getting some coins back. Which is a mystery to me why, a few seconds later, I thought it would be a good idea to flip my wallet over and look at the inside, thereby depositing the contents of my change-pocket into my lap. I think I was able to get all of the coins back into the wallet before the barista could notice, and I headed off to the freeway.
On the road, I decided I should swing by Cost Plus World Market as I hadn’t been there in a while and I shouldn’t waste a trip to the Westside. With that intent in mind, I drove right past Cost Plus and almost drove past the second entrance to the parking lot as well. Where I did turn led straight to Staples, and I thought “perfect!” as I needed some more matching stacking trays for my desk at work. I wanted to browse a little bit longer, but was driven by the brain-distracting need to visit the restroom to check out as quickly as possible. I was developing schemes of finding even a fast food restaurant where I would buy something for 99 cents so that I could use their bathroom, but as luck would have it someone came up to ask for the bathroom as I was paying. Of course there would be a bathroom in the store–why didn’t I think of that?
[I would like to mention, for the sake of attention to detail, that I had to repurpose an extra seat liner into toilet paper because there was none to be found. Additionally, the seat seemed to be unbalanced, because any shifting around led to the seat also shifting and threatening breakage.]
Still cold, but slightly less miserable, I finally made it to Cost Plus. After only two minutes in housewares, I reached out to pick up a jar that I was considering for the cotton swabs in my bathroom, but did not notice that the lid was askew. The white ceramic lid, of course, went crashing to the floor and broke into three pieces. I stared at it for a couple of seconds, cried out, “this day!”, and then put the pieces into my basket. Disconsolate, I walked around the store putting a few impulse purchases into my basket–nutella included–and sheepishly handed the broken item to the cashier. Either she was genuinely nice or she could sense the mounting emotional breakdown, because she took it away very kindly and told me no problem. It was about that time I noticed I must have cut my hand on one of the jagged porcelain bits. In my mental haze I was embarrassed and anxious, and actively tried to hide the cut from her view because I didn’t want her to be grossed out. In retrospect…I should have told her to be careful when handling the porcelain and warned her there may be a teeny bit of blood on it. Hungry brains are not thinking brains.
I’m back home now, much poorer, but I have eaten a sandwich.
The stupid light is still on, and I do not want to think about the type of work or money that might be required if the expensive cleaning thingy doesn’t fix the problem.
I have a happy lamp at work, I have a feeling I should probably get one for home too.
I guess when written out it’s a fine day. Maybe I’m pmsing, or maybe I’m just distraught because after fixing the windshield I didn’t even get a week without an auto problem. Either way, it’s been a rough Sunday.