A Broken Car, A Happy Kid, and A Patient Wife

Behind every absent employee is a happy kid and a worried spouse. – Me.

 

As our young boy puts it, ”Daddy, you have an extra  Saturday!” This he said  after  learning  that  I won’t be  able to  report to work because my car’s  air conditioner conked out on a high noon yesterday. This is why children,  no  matter how  annoying  they could  get, are  little  angels—or  clowns—who possess the ability  to make  us  smile  whenever  we  need to  have some. It wasn’t the extra Saturday I wished I had but there was no choice.

The car’s Pandora’s box. (Image from Honda.)

After having  nightmares  about car  repairs  and empty  wallets,  start  of the  day  today I faced my  fear head on. I went back to the aircon repair shop anticipating a long day ahead, another day of waiting for a Pandora’s box from the car’s hood to be spread its ugly surprise. But God must have heard our bedtime prayers and must have checked my bank account balance. The mechanic made a quick bypass of the compressor’s wiring and voila, cold air from the vents.

Returning home  a  lot earlier than expected,  I  found myself seated  across  wifey who was then  busy  with  her  regular  task of  cleaning Marcus’ Legos and other building  blocks. Besides being impressed  by her patience to  place everything back  in  order  despite  knowing that  it  would  be  a  matter of time when our young boy disassembles everything according to his own liking—which did happen—I noticed something that captured my attention. A nice Lego hack. There’s no need to wait for the next Mothers’ Day or Valentines’ Day to give compliment for this one little trick…plus the fact she paid most of the car’s repair.

Lego Hack, Lego Sword Rack

A sword rack using an 8 X 2 Lego piece.

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This is the first time the car’s air-conditioning got busted. It was due to a loose compressor bearing that eventually resulted to the wheel grinding on the magnetic coil set. Repair costs us Php 6,000 plus. I might need more carpool passengers or those who could pay more.

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Mood: 2/10 Honks! (I was expecting to take public transpo for a week but I’m not.)

The Handy Manny and Guido in me

Our transfer to Batangas has made me do more things on my own. The first few weeks I got myself pretty busy. I became the real Handy Manny, I can be seen with tools that where never out of the toolbox for so long. I got drill, screwdrivers, hammer, and ladder as my usual companion—they don’t talk though unlike in the cartoon show. There were fixtures to caulk, frames to hang, curtain rods to install. All these I did even on weekdays just before or after I report to night shift.  I was a regular at the hardware stores.

Then there’s our car to take care of. I realized that I actually have an answer to wifey’s question: “Do you miss Cavite?” I used to say “no” without any hesitation but now I seem to wish I am still close to Honda Cars Cavite. The car dealership wasn’t perfect but it was home for our Honda City for almost six years. There’s a Honda dealer here in Batangas but I decided against availing its services after talking to one of its service advisors. He doesn’t not show good customer service, he gave a pricey quote, and he spelled spark in spark plug with a ‘u’. Yes, I get easily turned off by price and wrong spelling.

Soon I found myself under the hood of the Honda City, this time I become Guido. After eight years, I am taking over the car’s preventive maintenance. I discovered that the task wasn’t easy. I had to familiarize myself with the car and had to read its manual more thoroughly for the first time after I almost loosen the wrong nut thinking it was the oil drain plug. The design of the City’s engine also made it harder to access its eight spark plugs as these are deeply seated unlike the ones in our Kia Pride (duh). I almost quit changing the four spark plugs located behind the engine block. That week I went to work showing everyone a dirty finger, fingers to be exact. I will wear gloves when changing oil next time.

I need my own lift.

But other maintenance jobs are better left to the experts and the better equipped. Yesterday, I watched a car parts store’s mechanic figure out how to change the car’s gear oil. He later conceded that they do not have the tool to drain the oil. It was about an hour and a half wasted. With my temper running low, I drove a few meters to a Caltex gas station where I found someone in greasy overall uniform who did the job in barely 30 minutes. I gave him a tip.

While our routine has normalized, there are still lots of things waiting to be done. For one there are still boxes in our other room with its contents waiting to be transferred to their proper cabinets and shelves which are yet to be made (hint: budget). Others need to be disposed. Then there’s also our parking space that we plan to have cemented. Who knows I could do less messy and faster oil change when I don’t have to worry about the jack stand sinking into the loose soil.

***

Car talk

Marcus and I stayed very late last night. He played Roblux, I watched TV. I landed on a channel that shows Formula E and watched it for the very first time. I learned that Formula E is similar to Formula One except that the cars are electric but just as fast. Since there is no fossil fuel to pump, the driver transfers to a fully-charged car on scheduled pit stops. Marcus was right to remark that the Formula E cars sound like those in Star Wars. How soon would mankind be driving 100% gas-free cars? Tesla is  around so the answer should be sooner than we expect it.

***

Mood: 3/10 Honks! (Regular Sunday: no more fiesta, no more outing.)

Oh my gash

Scratches, scratches, and more scratches. It has been more than a month since I have been dealing with lots of it, left and right, front and back. Some of unknown reason, some almost obvious. The most recent is a huge scrape on my front left bumper which I noticed after we returned home from watching Batman V Superman. It is the nastiest so far since we had the car as applying rubbing compound just didn’t fix it this time.

A close inspection points to only one culprit–the wall perpendicular to our parking space. When the snafu happened wasn’t immediately clear though. Initially, I thought it was on our way back–it was my first time to back up into the tight space on a night time plus Marcus kept on annoying me with his series of questions about Batman, past and present. However, things begin to fit like a puzzle the next morning.

Curious where the bumper actually hit, I checked my sister-in-law’s wall again when I gave Marcus a stroll in his wheelchair. Nothing was obvious at first, the wall and its paint seem intact just like after I checked last night.

A few seconds of head scratching (that word again) soon pointed to a tell-tale clump of gray paint. I felt like Frank Hardy. The scrape shows that the bumper made contact on my way out which explains why a guy at the car wash where we stopped by before proceeding to the mall asked what happened to the car. I dismissed his inquiry, didn’t even bother to check the car, thinking he was referring to a damage on the rear door–one that happened more than three years ago in the same area but due to a tree’s fault.

So it wasn’t Marcus after all. My ego scratched.

I do cringe at this new unsightly mark on my front end but I know that I’ll get over it soon. It’s just like how it was with some other scratches made by envious neighbors, playful kids, careless shoppers, disappointed beggars, reckless bikers and motorcycle riders and cats, dogs, and chickens included. Name it, the car has it.

The bright side here is that I had something to draft at a parking lot while waiting for someone. I offered to drive for my brother-in-law and his family for the wedding they attended to this Easter Sunday which by the way is the main reason I decided to leave the house and have the car washed on the afternoon the car scraped the wall–and the very next day after I said the car survived unscathed its week of being parked in a tight space. Spoke too soon. Ti abi.

***
Not all scratch stories are the same.

The day we moved into our new house, we observed details that seem off: the windows’ screen frames were interchanged; bits of screen were in the sliding window’s rail; a portion of the wall had uneven gray patches; and, the front door had scratches on the bottom part. All seem to be hints of sloppy workmanship showing up. But it wasn’t.

We soon learned that someone left the dog unnoticed inside the house and it eventually panicked and tried to escape and made a total mess like the Tasmanian Devil. Fortunately, help was available in short notice and everything was restored somehow. The dog now stays just outside our front door serving as our own sentry.

***

Mood: 2/10 Honks! (Back online. We now have internet connection.)

Dealing with a seven-year old

Our seven-year old is acting up lately. The past week has been a struggle especially for me as there were so many issues that I have to deal with. It is some sort of tantrums, or as my wife puts it, ‘a sign that it is seeking attention.’ Whatever the reasons are, it is becoming obvious that this one has seen better days. Nope, it’s not our son but our Honda City.

On hump day morning right out of work as I happily imagine a hearty breakfast at home I found a screw—a screw stuck deeply into my left rear tire. Needless to say, I had to change the flat tire while tired and sleepy and hungry. Good thing I was able to summon my inner pit stop crew skill and I was out of Nuvali after less than 15 minutes which is not bad given my then present condition. (The vulcanizing shop guy was able to pull out a four-inch screw which he said must have fallen from a motorcycle brake adjuster.)

But, just like that overused TV shopping line, wait there’s more. That night, I had to deal with several rude drivers on my way to work. Oncoming vehicles flashed their headlights; some even had the nerve to honk as I get near them. Just rude, inconsiderate at the very least, right? Well, it was midway of my trip when I realized I was at fault—I was running with one headlight on the passenger side only. It would have been cool if I were in the music video of that Wallflowers’ song but in real life it’s really not. Anyway, I made it through the dark stretch that I regularly take and I even had the time to drop by True Value Solenad to grab a replacement which I was able to install the next day. Another problem solved, comes the next.

When it rains, it pours—in my car’s case, it leaks. The recent rainy days have exposed a leak on the driver side.  I thought at first that it is coming from under, that there could be a hole, that whenever I pass by this flooded part of my trip water comes in. The good news, I discovered, is that there isn’t one right below but the bad news is that it is coming from a breach either in the gasket where the wires and hood cable from the engine side go through or from an unknown location. So yesterday I had all my tools out—hydraulic jack, jack stand, hand tools, and a caulk. The front of the house was a repair shop for hours while I am trying to beat the hot rising sun.

All the caulking I made under the left fender weren’t successful though. It rained hard in the afternoon—hours after we arrived from buying Marcus’ CoQ10 and Alpha Lipoic Acid at Healthy Options ATC—and this morning I discovered the leak is still there. But I now think that I have found the culprit which is a small gap where the windshield and wiper panel meet. Another caulking session took place while I was all sweaty right out of my workout session from the nearby gym. Fingers now crossed.

I would say that if there were cars during Jean Valjean’s time then ours could be his. I know it’s an exaggeration but such inconveniences had me relate more to Les Miserables which is a story I read while killing time at the parking lot—while in my car, our seven-year old car.

Either I win the lotto or join a networking group to make his last year’s wish a reality. There are other options but would be against the law.

 

***

Wifey bought a DVD of Les Miserables which we watched yesterday while rain poured hard outside, while I was wondering if I was able to fix the leak of the car.

***

Mood: 2/10 Honks! (A part of me wishes for the El Nino to persist.)

Be carpool cool

How to carpool, how to remain accepted in carpool, carpooling in the Philippines, carpool

The ideal car pool faces. (Image from the web.)

 

It starts with an honest invite. “Hey, you live close to where I live, you can ride with me.” Sometimes it’s out of boredom from what’s on the radio or the old CD collection. “Yes, good to talk to someone while I drive.” But soon–play Psycho theme–you realize your supposedly temporary companion has gotten fond of the free ride. He begins to treat your car as his, he appears out of nowhere to just to ride with you. He becomes your nightmare. You begin to pray he’s not around. You begin to escape and evade–often futile. The woes of carpooling.

All is not lost, however. If you are among those who benefit from carpooling and sooner or later feels that your driver are making up alibis to ditch you, I suggest following some courtesy to redeem yourself. (Trust me, drivers like me, will start to like you around again.)

1. Offer to pay for gas every now and then. Yes, do not abuse your driver’s goodwill because at some point he will start to think, “What’s in it for me?” The answer at the very least is: gas.

2. Ask permission. Not all the time that the owner of the car can accommodate you. Just like how he gets bored with radio shows, he also gets bored having someone tagging along. Especially for free. So a short SMS from you and an affirmative answer from him guarantee a guilt-free ride.

3. Be infrequent. So you decide not take part in the gas expenses. Fine. But please make sure that you do not expect to ride along for free on a regular basis. That’s rude. In this case, riding only twice a year is perfect.

4. Be observant. Drivers have moods so be sensitive. If they get chatty, talk. If you receive a short answer for a long question, pipe down or better yet sleep. And if they start turning the car stereo’s volume up, do not compete with it.

5. Do not slam the door. In carpooling, the last impression lasts so how you exit the car matters. Not slamming the door is already like a mutual thank you.

(Drafted this while at a Honda car dealership. I got new brakes. Might use this to encourage seat belt use–of free riders.)

***

Mood: 1/10 Honks! (It’s been a long time since I took a leave on a Friday. TGIF.)

As Low as a Low Beam

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This is actually my second time. The last time was when we checked in at a hotel in Makati and I have to take the bus to work due to color coding.
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Mood: 6/10 Honks! (I’ll try to be friendly inside the FX.)

“…and those who own BMWs.” (I was telling wifey about the three people in this world: the poor, the rich, and the contented when a shiny brand new bimmer passed by. Talk about distraction during a financial discussion.)

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This is my first post in Status format.