Homefull 2.1: The Tricks

How many Davids did it take to change the headlamp in The Muse’s car? Trick question! David couldn’t change the headlamp in The Muse’s car. He had to take it to the mechanic after spending a good part of one Saturday failing to figure out how to change that headlamp. The owner’s manual tried, but failed to describe the procedure. One download from the internet breezily explained how removing the front bumper proved the simplest method for headlamp replacement. Humiliated, I finally surrendered. Tony the Mechanic switched it out one-handed, without looking, and charged me less than I would have paid for just a headlamp, and even replaced for nothing three subsequent ones when they failed because they hadn’t, in his judgement, lasted long enough. Didn’t even scrape his knuckles.

”There’s a trick to it,” Tony explained, without describing the trick. Why, I wonder, does every mechanical device come with some unexplainable trick attached?

This week, my new neighbor noticed that one of the new zoom car’s headlamps had burned out, so next morning I trundled off to the auto parts store, otherwise reverently referred to as alien territory; a warehouse filled with mysterious things. I found the headlamp aisle and even found the proper headlamp after surprisingly finding the catalogue that correlates make and model with specific bulb. I grabbed a 9007 and headed for the checkout, which was stalled while the clerk tried to figure out the trick to replacing the battery in a customer’s key fob remote. She asked the clerk in the next aisle if he could help, so when he finished his transaction, he stepped over to serve as an additional cook. Then the sole remaining clerk got involved, too, while the customer watched in dismay.

I watched in dismay, too, because I’d just tried to remove my burned out headlamp in the auto parts store parking lot, but couldn’t figure out the trick to it. I knew I was watching a little passion play of what my morning was likely to become, but I was to be the only cook spoiling my soup. Filled with dread, I bravely drove home with my replacement part. I’d done some studying up with the owner’s manual, and the procedure looked simple enough, three steps as illustrated, then reversing those steps to conclude. Rather than jump right back under the hood, I took the owner’s manual in the house to study over breakfast. I rehearsed and tried to visualize then memorize those three steps, wondering how I’d get my hands into the unmentioned tiny space provided. Breakfast finished, I studied more deeply.

I knew there was going to be a trick to this, and I almost just drove over to Tony’s because he undoubtedly would have already figured out the trick, but I ached to experience that peculiar esteem figuring out the trick brings, so I studied and visualized and memorized some more.

A couple of hours later, I emerged into the driveway, confidence quivering. Opening the hood, then holding the owner’s manual open to the diagram, I probed into the narrow, dark cavern, looking for that little clip illustrated in there. I couldn’t be sure, my squeezed fingers didn’t seem to have the strength to make the clip go click, so I retreated to my workbench and my tool box, removing a screwdriver. That might do it, and it did.

Then I had a headlight assembly loose, but there was a large ring than needed loosening, counter-clockwise according to the manual, which had flopped closed during the clicking step. Reopening the manual then regaining hold on that threaded ring thing, I encountered an eternal mystery: counter-clockwise relative to what? From the back, counter-clockwise becomes the front side’s clockwise, so I needed a point of reference to turn the piece counter-clockwise. I tried one way, then the other, getting nowhere either way, thinking there must be a trick to this.

I almost gave up and drove to Tony’s then, figuring that I’d given the procedure most of the morning and even figured out the click trick all by myself, but I was turning stubborn by then. I continued randomly working that piece counter or clockwise, depending, with the three fingers with mobility in that narrow, dark space until the ring gave way. Whatever the trick was, I must have invoked it, because I was already up to step three and I’d had the hood open for less than an hour!

Now, to somehow unplug the old headlamp (step 3), using two mobile fingers, the other one holding that ring to prevent it falling irretrievably into the pit of doom, thoughtfully provided beneath the headlamp area. How many fingers does it take to unplug a headlamp?

So I got the old one unplugged and the new one plugged in. I took a break there to go turn on the car to check that the new headlamp actually worked before trying to harness it up, and it did. The hot new headlamp rewarded my caution by singeing one of my three mobile fingers, but, being no wuss, I worked through the pain. Of course I installed the ring backwards once, perhaps twice, and jiggled the new headlamp so much that I was certain I’d broken it getting it plugged back into it’s space, and only had to redo that step twice before it clicked, with a little help from that long screwdriver, which I did not once stab myself with.

Ta-da! Done. Five minutes left before the morning’s completely gone, too. And it’s worked for a whole day without failing so far.

I did not learn the trick for replacing that headlamp while replacing it, though I stumbled into a couple of things that seemed to work. I almost wish I could have seen what I was doing so I could describe what those tricks actually are. I am missing the burned out headlamp. I suspect that it fell into the pit of doom.

Yesterday, I began reassembling those industrial shelving units I’d disassembled when vacating the storage space earlier in the week. I managed fine on the first part of the first one, then misread the connections for the second tier, which left me banging steel and losing pieces for an hour or so before I zoomed off to the hardware store (headlamps fully functional) to buy two ‘necessary’ needle-nosed vice grip pliers. When I’d returned and the hammering and crashing resumed, The Muse moseyed in to notice that I was attaching them wrong, a trick I suppose only someone with some distance from the steel could ever notice. She helped me attach the top uprights before I chased her off, for I was again pursuing that curious juice I sometimes need that only comes from figuring out the trick for myself.

©2012 by David A. Schmaltz - all rights reserved

blog comments powered by Disqus