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Tuesday, June 12 2012


Other Half and I both share the same character flaw: procrastination. Part of it is that we are spinning so many plates at once that we have to prioritize certain things. People who live like this have a higher tolerance for dog hair on the floor and tall grass in the yard. They also have the ability to sleep with dogs. This is due to the aforementioned tolerance for dog hair.

Now this said, our tendencies toward prioritizing and procrastination almost always have a way of biting us in the butt. The problem being - we prioritize the wrong things when we procrastinate. For example: the air conditioning in my Toyota 4Runner.

My little putt-putt car is a 2000 Toyota 4Runner that has over 263,000+ miles on it. The only thing I do to that truck is put gas in it. My idea of maintenance is - putting gas in it. When forced by the state, I will put new tires on it, and I give it an oil change then. I do not possess automotive care skills. Other Half possesses these skills, but there is that whole procrastination thing. I have a tendency to treat my cars like I treat my riding lawnmowers -

"if it's moving forward and grass is coming out the side, it's fine. Keep goin'."

Last year there was a major hitch in the giddy-up with my little 4Runner - loud screeching under the hood. Hmmm.... sounded like a belt. (Like I would even know!) Neighbor across street heard the screech and became concerned enough (code: tired of listening to it.) to advice me to try rubbing soap on the belt.  I did. Nothing. Nada.

One of the guys at my office sprayed some fancy spray on it. Nothing. Nada.

Now although my automotive skills are non-existent, I am fairly observant and I noted that while the engine was screaming, the air conditioner would quit working. As soon as the screaming stopped, the AC would resume. I noted this. I did nothing about this. But I DID note it.

One day the check engine light came on, as those suckers tend to do and I stopped by one of those auto parts stores.

I assure you that I did this only because I cannot get the car inspected with a check engine light on. Because, as was pointed out early, "if it's moving forward, and grass is still coming out the side, it's fine. Keep goin."

The woman who was diagnosing the check engine light told me that light was caused by my oxygen sensor. While she was there, she listened to the screeching and proclaimed that my air conditioning compressor was going out. That sounded expensive.

Part Two of procrastination is COST. I'm poor. All my money goes to the feed store, so anything that looks like it will cost money (except for the health of my animals!) is definitely a lower priority. And besides, after screeching for a few minutes, it would quit and the air conditioner would come back on. Remember our mantra: "If it's moving forward . . . "

This was all well and good until last August. With a final objective scream, the air conditioner died - in August - in Texas. I had *@!* - - myself. (cannot be completed in a family-friendly program.)

So, I drove without air conditioning. Too many other things were going on. I was selling a farm. I was moving. I was buying a farm. And I was poor. So every day, I drove that sucker to work, arriving at the office, sweaty and smelling like a homeless person. This went on until cold weather arrived. (Cold is such a relative term in Texas. For those of you in Canada, substitute the word "balmy.")

I was definitely going to fix the air conditioner during the winter. But the money I had saved up went other places. (As money tends to do. It's slippery stuff!) So Summer arrived and the air conditioner still hadn't been fixed. The tires had been replaced. The oil and air filter had been changed! But I was facing another Summer of sweating because air compressors cost money. I hadn't even bothered to check how much. After all, the very word "compre$$or has dollar signs in it, so why bother?

That was until something happened.

Last week Other Half drove the jeep to get it inspected. We have a jeep too. It doesn't have air conditioning either. The AC isn't broke though. It's just that it's an off-road jeep and those don't have AC. Needless to say, OH called me at work to complain that he was hot and sweaty and wanted sympathy.  At this point I said,

"See what you're feeling now? That hot, sweaty, nasty feeling?"

He allowed as how it was a nasty feeling.

"Well that's how I ARRIVE at work every day, so I don't want to HEAR ABOUT IT!!!"

Put that way, he had a better understanding of how I felt without air conditioning. So he called a friend of his who is a whiz bang auto mechanic. His friend recommended a friend of his who used to work for Toyota for years. The man was now living his dream as a cop and doing auto repair on the side. (He probably could make better money staying in auto repair work.)  Anyway, I called Peter.

I met Peter outside a restaurant while on my hot, sweaty ride to work last Friday.  He came outside, wearing a policeman's uniform and slurping on a cold drink. He popped my hood, peeked inside, and said,

"Your air conditioner doesn't work because your belt is gone."


He took a slurp.  "Your belt. See? There's supposed to be a belt there."


Alrighty then. This should have been a clue to Peter what he was dealing with.

So he picked up a belt on Saturday and I met him at his house Sunday morning.  Peter looked at my little 4Runner the way I would look at an abused puppy. After a while, he stopped asking, "When was the last time you had XYZ done?"

I think he got tired of seeing me cock my head like the RCA puppy staring at the phonograph.

At one point, he reached into my engine with some long tool and popped out something.

"Look at this!" he exclaimed as he shook it in excitement.

"What is it?" I was only mildly curious.

"It's a SPARK PLUG!!!" He was aghast. "I've never, in all my years as a mechanic, EVER seen a sparkplug so worn, in a car that STILL RUNS!"

He was so horrified at my spark plug that he informed me he was keeping it to show other mechanics and as an advertisement for Toyota. Alrightie then.

So three hours later, Peter had fixed my AC, tuned up my engine, fixed my accelerator, and fixed my back brakes. Then he charged me $120. He had the same look in his eye as an animal rescue person. I think he was afraid to send me back home with the car. As I tooled out the driveway, he decided that our next project would be to replace the shocks, because, 

"When was the last time you had the shocks replaced?"

"What? Those springy things?"

He bit his tongue.

I agreed to bring the car back to him when I had saved up enough money for shocks. And as I tooled down the road, chilling out with my frigid air conditioner, I was thankful for people like Peter - honest mechanics who believe there is more to an engine than "If it's moving forward, and grass is still coming out the side, it's fine."

I wonder what Peter would think of my lawnmower.



Posted by: forensicfarmgirl AT 09:55 am   |  Permalink   |  5 Comments  |  Email
I have followed your blog for ages - you write from the heart and sometimes I think it's my heart, lol. I feel your pain in the car area. I have found the quickest way to get my husband to fix my car is to find a reason to 'trade' vehicles with him for a while. Seems to get the job done. :)
Posted by Lisa F on 06/12/2012 - 01:09 PM
"Part Two of procrastination is COST" You bet! Lucky you to have found Peter! What a sweet guy. Had you taken it for fixin' in a Toyota garage, it probably would have cost several times that amount ... and still wouldn't have had everything fixed that needed fixing. BTW, my RAV4 (which is the largest vehicle I will ever own [now 162,000 km/100,660 mi]) doesn't have working AC either. I couldn't afford to get it fixed but it doesn't matter since the hottest day so far this year was yesterday at 33°C/92°F. I just put the front and back passenger side windows down and the breeze blows through Terri's hair ;-)
Posted by Terri's Pal on 06/12/2012 - 05:13 PM
I can just imagine the look on Peter's face - you are a great writer! I know time is as scarce as money, but is there something you could barter on a regular basis with Peter so he could keep your poor Toyota running safely - goat milk or soap or something. Hate to think of you having a bad accident due to poor maintenance.
Posted by clairesmum on 06/12/2012 - 08:02 PM
My 1982 Honda is a bit like your car just keeps mowing. Has had a side car on it all that time and now has about 400,000 km on it. Grand advertiment for Honda. However she does get an occasional service but it is the original motor and pistons. Entering her classic yrs like it's owner. Well done on yr mechanic my car one lives just down the road.
Posted by Liz (Vic Aust.) on 06/13/2012 - 03:11 AM
My Dear Husband is a mechanic at his second job, Fire Fighter at his first. So guess who's vehicle always needs work? Both of mine. Right now the promised 2 week engine rebuild on my 'Ivey', a 1977 GMC Truck, has taken 5 months and looks like it will be another 2 months at least. I love that old truck, it's fun to drive. So drive my 2004 Suburban. OK. Well it has issues too, but as long it it goes forward and doesn't stop unless I make it, those issues will be put on the back burner. When the it lets me sit, I'll grab the keys to DH's baby, a 1972 Nova. How much you want to bet both Ivey and the Suburban are up and running in short order?
Posted by Pam R on 06/13/2012 - 12:29 PM

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