Banner photo of Larry Eugene Meredith, Ronald Tipton and Patrick Flynn, 2017.

The good times are memories
In the drinking of elder men...

-- Larry E.
Time II

Monday, May 31, 2010

Nobody Knows Anything -- Including Me

"Doubtless you are the people, and wisdom will die with you! But I have a mind as well as you; I am not inferior to you.
Who does not know all these things?” Job 12:2-3

Apparently no one.

It snowed on Saturday. All day the forecasters said “a chance of snow showers or flurries”; the same forecast for the night into Sunday morning. Who fears flurries; who shutters at showers?
It didn’t begin until late afternoon. I peered out the window around three o’clock and flakes were falling. The distance between flakes was so wide I could have walked between them and never been touched. I went in and took a bath.
An hour later I came out of the bathroom and stopped amazed at the window. All was white, the lawn, the lane and the street. You could not tell where the sidewalk ended and the road surface began. Snow was falling in those small flakes that never bode well. It was falling rapidly and on a slant.
It still was at 5:00.
I do not know what forecasters think they know, but this was not my definition of snow showers or flurries. After two hours of blinding white this was an out and out snowfall.
Weather forecasters do not know these things.

My wife and I go out to dinner on Saturdays. I made the decision this Saturday would be no different. We would just go to a restaurant not too distant from our home. I figured once we got out of our development to the county road it would be okay. That road is mostly straight and flat and the restaurant sits aside it.
The street we live on is not straight and flat. It is a series of S-curves down a hill until it dead-ends in the cross street below. The picture (taken this morning, not on Saturday when the street was under snow) is steeper in grade than the photo shows. A winter sport is to stand in the comfort of our living room and watch the foolish attempt to drive up the hill on snowy days.
It is not necessarily easier going down either unless you know what you are doing.
When we came out to leave there was a car parked along the curb just above my driveway. It was facing down the hill, so was parked on the wrong side, but we thought nothing about this. We figured it was a visitor to my neighbor and cars often park on the opposite side of their travel direction around here.
But as I walked to my own car a man came along the street side of that car. I thought the car seemed odd somehow and as I stepped a bit nearer I saw the right fender dipped strangely and the man was looking at it.
About this time a police car, with lights sparkling and spinning came down the hill and stopped. As we backed out of the drive we saw the right side of the parked car was smashed in. 
It became obvious what happened. The man had driven around the curve just up the street, gone into a skid and whacked the cars parked across the street. Both those vehicles between the trees are damaged along the left side and on that night there was a third car behind them that suffered the same fate.
The man did not know how to maneuver down our hill in snow.
My neighbors didn’t know not to park on the street in bad weather.
These people did not know these things.

The county road was not in the best of shape. Obviously no plows had been along it yet and glancing down at I-95 as I passed showed none had swept over it either. Well, who has all the plows primed to go for snow showers and flurries? I had gone down our hill and out the somewhat hilly cross street in low gear. I could push it up to drive on the county road despite its condition. It was hard to see and I had to take it slow, but it wasn’t long until we approached the restaurant.
It was to the left, the first left turn I had to make on this trip. I snapped on my left turn signal and instead of the usual tick tick tick tick there was a ticktickticktick and the little green arrow indicator was just blinking its pointer off.
“Ut oh,” I said.
“What?” asked the little woman.
“That usually means a light is burned out.”
Sure enough, my left rear turn signal was not flashing. There was no reason to worry; there was nothing to be done at the moment. We went in to dinner.
At a long table near our booth was a lady on a cell phone. I am not a fan of cell phone yakkers in restaurants.  They always seem to talk too load as if the whole world should be interested in their one-sided conversation. It this case it was justified. Some of their family was to join them for dinner, but they were being delayed because they were in an accident.
There were a lot of accidents in the county that evening. All we people didn’t know better than to be out and about on such a night. It is still furiously snowing when we leave the restaurant at 7:00. The roads were slippery and dangerous.
We did not know these things.

Sunday was a sun day. The snow melted quickly off the highways and byways. The evening’s men Bible study was cancelled due to inclement weather. They didn’t know the roads would be fine by nightfall.
With my work hours constantly shrinking we find money sometimes tight. This particular month it was long between revenues flowing in and thus our pantry shrunk down to near nothing by the last day of the month. There being little in the house to prepare for dinner, we ordered out from a nearby pizzeria on Sunday. No big deal to call and then go pickup. We use this particular place often for takeout.
My one daughter was visiting and my son would soon be home from work. I passed out menus sent to us by the pizza shop and took orders. My wife wanted the veggie wrap with horseradish and Dijon sauce. I went in and called the restaurant.
After the usual confirmation of phone number and name, the fellow asked what I wanted.
“A veggie wrap with horseradish and Dijon sauce.”
A long pause. “Just a moment,” he says and there was more silence.
Then he comes back on. “Sorry about that. Could you repeat?”
“A veggie wrap with horseradish and Dijon sauce.”
“Ah, just a minute.”
More silence, then he is back. “Ah, I don’t think we have a veggie wrap.”
“It’s on your menu.”
“It is?”
“I don’t see it.”
 “Yes,” I say, then, “is this so-and-so’s?”
“Well, it’s on your menu.”
“Look,” he says, “if you want a veggie wrap, I’ll make you a veggie wrap.”
“Okay, but it’s on your menu.”
 “ No, no, I can’t find it. Hold on. I will ask my manager.”
Silence again and then he’s back. “Okay, what else you want?”
“A turkey wrap with horseradish and Dijon sauce.”
“Okay, that all?”
Oh boy, now I know my son’s order will be trouble because it usually is.
“A large Italian sub with just meat, cheese and mayo.”
“You don’t want lettuce.”
“Uh, you no want tomatoes?”
“No pickles, peppers, onions.”
“No, no, no. No anything but meat, cheese and mayo.”
“You want oil or mayo on that?”
“Anything else?”
“Yes, a large Italian sub with everything and oil.”
“Uh, you want lettuce on it.”
“Do you want tomato…?”
So I drive down twenty minutes later to pick up my order with fingers crossed. There is a young woman behind the counter to whom I give my name. She places a large bag before me and I hand her my debit card. She runs it and gives me the slip to sign.
I glance down and see, “Chicken wrap with horseradish and Dijon sauce”.
“What’s with the chicken wrap?’ I ask.
“Oh, we don’t have a veggie wrap so we have to use another wrap.”
But it’s on your menu!
The servers do not know these things.

Not quite on par with the squid and the whale perhaps, but it was still a tussle with the dealer over the bulb.
After getting off work Monday afternoon I drove straight to a nearby Chevrolet dealer. This seemed the easiest place to get the correct turn signal bulb. I went to the parts department and stood at the counter. I stood and stood until finally someone in the back took note and came forward to serve me. I said what I needed and the man went to his computer. This brought up a schematic of the rear lighting assembly on my year and model car. There were little arrows and letters marking each bulb contact.
The fellow began clicking away at the keys.
He studied the screen, and then clacked some more keys.
He said hmmm a few times and shook his head. He went back and looked through some drawers in a cabinet. He came back and tapped the keys some more.
“I can’t seem to find that bulb,” he said.
“That’s great,” said I.
He pulled up a couple of charts on his screen. “I think you want a number 3175,” he says.
“No,” I say, “it says in the manual that’s the front turn signal. I need the rear.”
“Hmmm,” he says and presses the keys again.
“The manual says I want a 3075KX,” I say.
He goes back to the cabinet, then returns again empty handed. “I don’t have a 3175. I have a 3075.”
“Yeah,” I say, ‘that’s what the manual says I need.”
He gives me a fish-eye, but goes and gets a 3075 bulb. It is just the bulb, no box or wrapping of any kind. He hesitates. He is still reluctant not to sell me a 3175. I take the light and reach for my wallet.
“Pay at the cashier,” he tells me.
$3.57 for a 3075KX bulb. I wonder what the charge would be if they installed it, but how hard can it be to replace a bulb. I pay and leave. The parts guy is still shaking his head.
He still doesn’t think it’s the right bulb.
The parts guy does not know these things.

I look at the directions in the car owner’s manual. There is a diagram. A note says this should only take a few minutes to do.
Step 1: Set the parking brake and pull the keys out of the ignition.
I admit I am not the most mechanically talented guy around. Perhaps it is good the directions are starting with this level of basics.
Step 2: Open the trunk using the driver’s side trunk release or by manually unlocking it.
It’s pretty simple so far.
Step 3: Detach the fastener holding the trunk trim to the inside of the truck.
All right, where is this thing and what does it look like? It was kind of dark over in the side regions of the trunk. I feel around and find a plastic knob of some sort. I twist it and it unscrews, but the trim doesn’t budge. I feel some more and find the trim also has a big long tab-like structure at the top, which fits into a groove on the body. I pull this down and expose the backside of the taillight assembly.
Doin’ good, my boy.
Step 4: Remove the outer screws holding the taillight to the car’s body.
I see some long things sticking out and I have my screwdriver in hand. However, these things don’t seem to have a groove in their tops, neither flat head nor Phillips. In fact the back here seems pretty solid and doesn’t look much like the diagram.
I’m weary. I close up the truck and decide to wait until the next morning.
That evening I go online and Google “replacing a taillight”. I get a site with directions for my year and model. They are a repeat of what is in my manual. To the side is a video on how to change a turn signal bulb. I watch it. It is not my car, though; it is some kind of SUV hatchback. The guy on the video lifts the hatch and says remove the two screws along side the trunk lid. He has real screws. They are right there easy to see and get to as well.
Next morning I am out there again in the below freezing temperature with my useless screwdriver. I get a flashlight and twisting myself half upside down take a closer look at these “screws”. They are not screws. It is a nut and bolt connection. There is a long bolt and at the base these tiny nuts. I must get a wrench, although the manual says I only need a screwdriver.
My first wrench, despite being fairly small, is not small enough. I go in and look for my small ratchet set. It is not where it belongs and I cannot find it. My screwdriver set comes with ratchet heads for removing nuts, but I realize these are too shallow to fit over the long bolts. I dig around and come up with some smaller wrenches.
One finally fits the nut. This is a teeny tiny bend piece of metal I believe came with a piece of furniture I had bought that I had to assemble. But it works, if slowly, because there is little room to turn this device. It takes a while but I finally remove both nuts.
Step 5: Disconnect the wiring harness by lifting up on the tab and pulling it straight out of the assembly.
There is the harness and there is the tab…that will not lift no matter how hard I push and prod endangering my nails. I now have a use for the screwdriver. I snip and snap at the tab with the blade of the screwdriver, fearful of snapping off the stubborn tab because everything is plastic. Finally it gives up the ghost and I can work the harness connection off.
Step 6: Once the wires are clear pull the assembly out of the quarter panel.
In plain English, grab the red taillight plastic cover before the whole thing falls off the back fender to the ground. I catch the assembly in my hand.
I stare at it.
Step 7: Turn the faulty bulb’s socket counterclockwise to remove it from the assembly.
Oh yes this is easy after that socket has been solidly twisted in there for five years of varied fits of weather. I twist till my fingers hurt without any sign of movement on the part of the socket. This calls for priers.
Again I am reluctant because again the whole socket is plastic. It is not easy to get a grip either because those blasted long bolts are in the way from every direction. I keep trying and at long last the socket turns slowly counterclockwise. I pull it from the assembly.
Step 8: Pull the bulb directly out the socket and then replace it with the new one. Reconnect the socket to the assembly and replace the wiring harness.
The bulb resisted pulling. None wanted to come out of their comfortable beds after all these years. I tugged it loose and then shoved in the new bulb, which was the correct one, despite the dealer's parts department guy's opposing opinion. Now I just reversed everything and got it all back together.
The turn signal flashed.
I did not know these things.
Now I do.
I was just amazed that this weekend we all did not know these things.


Gigi said...

Good heavens...that was some kind of weekend!!

n. davis rosback said...

all i can do is sit here and grin.

thanks for sharing your poem on your comment at my place.
i really liked it.

Ron Tipton said...


I enjoyed reading your travails with the turn signal light. You are braver than I. I wouldn't even attempt it. However, I do make a good apple pie (which I did last night.) Try to find a mechanic who bakes an apple pie like I do.


Greg said...

Larry, this was one of the funniest posts you're ever done! What a week! It was especially poignant for me, since I've had similar experiences fiddling with our previous car. I don't dare mess with our new(er) car, now!

BTW, I've found that those plastic screws can break when it's cold out. Finding a heated garage might have made the experience a little more tolerable.