Thursday, January 04, 2007

An opportunity for gratitude

Yesterday Olly and I got in the car to bring her to the train station. She was going to Milan to spend the night at her father's, but unofficially she was going to spend the day with her new beau. I knew this because her father works until about 7.00 p.m. and she was itching to leave by 10.00 a.m. so it wasn't hard to put 2 + 2 together. Plus, she was willing to travel by train. Until today we've had a decade full of her father and I meeting half way between Milan and Modena any time she wanted to see him. On my part that's 120 round trip kilometres plus the time getting it all together, probably about two hours total if there is no traffic. The train? A seven minute car ride to the train station, a one hour twenty minute train ride for her.

We get in the car, I turn the key and it makes this "mpehra..." sound, and then nothing. I knew what it was right away. The battery was dead. Olivia panicked. "Oh no!! I'm going to miss the train!". She had tears in her eyes. I'm more practical (comes with age) so I just told her that there was nothing we could do in that moment about the car but we could see when the next train was. We looked at the schedule and saw that we had an hour and a half to get it together. She suggested a cab, I suggested one bike, four legs. I won. I had about ten errands to do that morning and I needed to be mobile after I dropped her off at the train station. Plus, it's only a three kilometre trek from our house, so off we went.

After I put her on the train I had to deal with the car. Piero is away for a week so no male to take care of the mechanical stuff for me. Now, I don't know anything about cars. I can pump my own gas, but that is truly the extent of my mechanical knowledge. There is a car mechanic just three hundred metres from our house but he is a THIEF! He totally overcharges on anything he does plus he surcharges any parts. Yes, he would walk over to my house and tow the car off and fix it, but he'd be charging me a ton of money for the whole thing. I knew that it'd take him about ten minutes to change that battery and he'd charge me $200.00 for the operation. I don't know where it came from but my first thought was "can't I do this myself?" Now where did I ever come up with that idea?

My across the court mechanical type neighbor Andrea confirmed to me that it was a simple operation. He threw in "if you have trouble just call me". It was comforting to know that I had a backup. I asked him where I could buy a new battery and he told me that just behind the bowling alley not more than three minutes from our house was a battery store. It was like a dream. I mean, I've lived in this neighborhood for eight years and not more than three hundred metres away is this huge store where he sells nothing but batteries of every type.

The first thing I had to do was get the old battery out and remember the sequence with which I took it apart. This actually wasn't too difficult. The hardest part was getting the bolts to turn because they'd been in place forever. I also have to admit that I Googled "how-to-change-a-car-battery" and viewed a few sites that confirmed how simple it was. The only thing that I messed up was taking off the negative before the positive (or the other way around), but I'm still alive to testify that it wasn't a problem. Andrea also popped outside in the crucial moment when I couldn't get this thingy with the spark plugs that was screwed on top of the battery off because the bolt wouldn't budge. After a mere fifteen minutes I had my old battery out. Now how to transport it to the shop and trade it for the new one...the baby jogger! I got a few stares from people seeing me pushing the battery in a stroller, but I'm not that self concious so I didn't care. The salesman looked at my battery and asked if I wanted the same type or a new "no maintenance" one. I went with latter because I found out that in all these years I was supposed to check the water levels every year. Who knew? Equipped with my new "no maintenance" battery I wouldn't have to ever worry about that again. (I'm laughing on that last sentence...I've never worried about it in the first place 'cause I didn't even KNOW about it...sigh...)

With my new battery back in the baby jogger, I headed back home. In front of the open hood I did have a moment of hesitation. "Maybe I should just wait for Andrea...". "No, you do it." That was still me talking..."Just give it a try." Getting the new battery in was ten times easier than taking it out. Then, like a true mechanic, with the hood still up I went and tested the engine. Unlike any other mechanic, I gave out a little squeal when it turned over in an instant. I CHANGED A CAR BATTERY ALL BY MYSELF!

I have a lot to be grateful for in this experience. Don't laugh, it's my brand spankin' new 2007 point of view:

- I am grateful that I will be able to cut out a lot of driving by sending Olly on the train. Now we know that she can travel with no problem. It's ecologically more sound and will save both parties time and money.

- I am grateful that my mechanic has overcharged me all of these years because I would have never been inspired to change the car battery myself if he hadn't.

- I want to thank my old battery for nine years of service even if I never once checked its' water levels (though I'm sure that someone did at some point).

- I am grateful for the whole experience because it has opened up a whole world of mechanical possibilities to me: my bike, the house, my bike, my car, my bike. (I need to work on my bike but have always taken it to a bike mechanic. Hey, I can change a car battery, can't I change some bikey thingy?)


ironjenny said...

Good for you!!!!
You can be grateful all you want, but I am spankin' PROUD of you!!!!
I'll bet you have a silly little grin that keeps appearing on your face everytime you think about it. Way to go!

Bolder said...

thanks for dropping by my blog Julia!

just, for you, i'll remove those hair pants!!

bet you never thought anyone would ever say that too you, huh?!?

take care, bold.