The Gift That Keeps On Giving

The Gift That Keeps On Giving

I’m aware the inauguration is today. It’s a distant event that holds little interest for me because my own little world holds my attention right now with a fierce two-handed death grip.

Whoever randomly broke my windshield last week has set off a chain of events that continue to plague me. I got the new windshield installed on Monday, but the guy installing it warned me that the windshield wipers may need to be replaced or fixed soon — not the wiper blades, mind you, but the arms, the whole mechanism. They looked fine, if a little wobbly, so I merely filed that bit away in my mind.

Then, I had to drive to a meeting yesterday in the rain. The forecast said there’d be storms from Thursday through Tuesday, and while I was on the freeway, it started to pour in earnest. I hit the wipers, and they wiped. It was a bit jerky in its movements, but it was effective. My brand new windshield was wiped clean.

It continued to rain, and I kept the wipers on. The arms were still jerky in their movement, and the left one especially limped along, dragging like a lame leg. Worse, its movement was extended all the way to the edge of the glass and a little bit beyond.

I drove on to my meeting, but with each swipe, it got worse, until finally, the left wiper went way past the edge, as though striving to become the driver’s side sideview mirror. And it stayed. Stuck. Sticking out like it was trying to hitchhike.

And because that one was stuck, the right wiper refused to move, too.

It was like I had no windshield wipers at all … in the pouring rain.

Visibility vanished rapidly. Soon, all I could see was a wavy waterfall on the front of my car, and I slowed down, hit my hazards, and drifted onto the shoulder so I could stop, push the wiper arm back in place, and continue on my way to the meeting. I didn’t think it would happen again, or if again, that it would happen frequently.

I didn’t leave the wipers on this time. I thought the steady rhythm caused it to extend out. So I manually turned them on only when I needed a swipe — once, just once, and wait until I desperately needed another swipe, then again.

So the half-hour drive became a multi-tasking activity where the thought lurking in the back of my mind was that “I’ll probably die today.”

The manual single-swiping wiper strategy worked for a while, but pretty soon, my little work-around stopped working as effectively, and the lame arm would again extend, get stuck, and stop working altogether. No matter what I did.

I ended up slowing down, hitting the hazards, drifting over to the shoulder, and getting out to knock everything back into place before I started up all over again, hoping the rain would let up a little bit and give me a break the rest of the way. I did that entire cycle more than several times in my commute, probably at least a half dozen times. My left side got a little soaked each time. I thought for sure my rain blindness would have me driving right into something, or that my slow driving and constant shoulder stops would get me hit from behind.

I’m pretty sure there were drivers all around me cursing me for driving like a little old lady on the freeway and in the rain. I could hear them say, “No one knows how to drive in the rain in California. WTF are you doing?! MOVE!”

I wanted to apologize to them all for having a faulty set of windshield wipers.

I was already partway where I needed to be, so it seemed senseless to turn around at this point. I tried to plan what I would do once I got to the meeting. If it was still raining after my meeting, I could maybe call the one person I knew in that area and ask him if he knew where I could get my wipers fixed nearby, because there’s no way I can drive home in the rain with broken wipers.

But the rain finally let up. I parked, had my meeting, and came out to lovely warm sunshine.

So I drove home, made myself a lunch, ate it, and did a little work. When my sister called soon after that, we discussed my situation, and then I called the company who replaced my windshield, and they had me drive out to their shop so they could look at it.

Yes, the mechanism is broken. No, they don’t have the needed part(s). The receptionist referred me to an auto shop down the street, so I went there and had it looked at. My car being old and no longer made, the company no longer existing, parts are hard to come by, so the guy said he’d have to call the junkyards to see what they had and at what price. He gave me a three-digit number for the entire wiper transmission, so I had him give me his card, and I asked him to keeping calling around.

I went home, stopped by the auto shop that I normally go to and asked them what they could do. It was pretty much the same, but they said they could take a look and see what parts I actually needed — as I might not need the entire wiper transmission — so I agreed to leave my car overnight so they could check it out first thing in the morning before calling around for the specific parts.

It occurred to me a little late to ask a friend of mine for help. He has junkyard connections, too, and he would have done the labor for free.

But it can be hard to think when you know the weekend will be full of rain, and you need your car the next day.

All this trouble is for a car notorious for having cheap plastic parts in the wiper transmission — a bad decision made by engineers trying to save the company money. And this is all thanks to some random vandal hell-bent on giving someone the bad luck promised by Friday the 13th.

It’s the gift that keeps on giving.

It’s not enough now that the vandal should get painfully explosive diarrhea and a horrible all-over body rash. If I get into an accident on the road because of this, it would only be right that the vandal be the other party in the same accident.

That way, they get what they give.

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