Fixing the Car

Car repairs

As you’ll see from the three attached photos on this blog post, Iv’e recently made several major changes to my car’s appearance.  The car itself runs fine, but the rear bar on the bumper has been broken for… let’s see, maybe three years?  Maybe more?  I think it was broken by a student at my old school, who was trying to break into my car (for reasons of his own. And what with one thing and another, I never got around to repairing it.  Frankly, the whole issue was one of feeling beaten-down about it. It got broken in the parking lot of my old school, no one ever confessed to the responsibility for breaking it, and no one ever apologized for it.  It was hard to wrap my head around how it was going to get repaired, too. I mean, I worked 24/7 in a dormitory at the old school… how was it going to get repaired if I never got to leave campus?  So, it was duct tape, and more duct tape. And gorilla tape. And two-part epoxy. And more duct tape. For three and a half years.

But then, last week, I visited my parents.  And on a Jupiter Day, at Jupiter Hour, a repairman came to fix my parents’ air conditioner.  He came in, and got right to business. “You want to join a class action suit against Toyota?” he said, “I have the same car, and the same part always breaks on the car.

Car repairs

I’ve replaced that bar across the back hatchback three times on both of my Scion xB’s.  It’s not well designed at all.”

My Dad picked up on this right away. “How much does it cost to get that part, and repair it?” The repairman was pretty breezy about it (I mean, who can blame him for being breezy? He’s an air conditioner repairman)… “Oh, maybe a hundred bucks.  And you can fix it yourself. No need to hire anyone.”

I called up the Toyota dealer near my parents. Yes. I could special-order the part. No, they didn’t have it in stock.  Yes, it was $150.00 plus tax and delivery fee.   No, I couldn’t possibly have it before the end of the week.

So, I called the Toyota dealership closer to my house.  Yes, I could special-order it.  Yes, they could have it for me on Saturday. Monday at the latest.  Yes, it was $89 plus tax, no extra delivery fee.  Yes, I could order and pay for it now.

Car repairs

And so it proved.  Getting the caked-on duct tape glue off the car was more challenging, and less successful.  As you can see from the last photo, the cleanser I chose (based on the recommendation from someone at Home Depot, alas), is that it removed the duct tape adhesive, but also the paint.  (I’m thinking I should design a cutout of Celtic designs to go around the damaged area, and pay to have it printed on the right material). However, it proved to be the case that the repair of the back gate was indeed something I could handle on my own, and that I could in fact repair this thing which had been causing me hours of misery and frantic upset while on the highway.

My dad is of the opinion that the state of my car has an effect on how people see me and think about me.  Maybe it’s not just about keeping your mental/physical chariot in good working order… Maybe it’s also about the state of your physical vehicle.  In any case, mine is now repaired (The oil got changed the other day, too, and some other repairs are finished as well).  So all in all, I’m in a state of greater functionality, and all because I’m confident that my car is in working order.  Some of our talismans don’t have to be all metaphysical to have an effect on who we are.

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  1. I’ve discovered over time that I can do almost anything technical if I take time to learn about what I am doing and perform the task slowly and deliberately, with attention to detail.

    • Stephen, I think that’s true of everyone. It’s just that many don’t actually bother. One of my design program projects is to take apart a machine and then put it back together. I would like kids (and adults) to feel more at home with using tools to investigate the realms below the shiny surfaces.

      I imagine you feel the same way.

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