Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Southern Wal-Mart Car Repair

Sometimes I miss living in the south, not this last week when the heat and humidity have been oppressive in Virginia, other than the weather there are things I miss, more people than things. My wonderful wife and I are down here visiting my parents, and are fixin’ to head home soon. Before embarking on a trip, I like to check the fluid levels on my car, and with this being a new-to-us car, I wanted to be sure. Everything looked good, but the brake fluid was a bit low, so I thought I would head on over to the Wal-Mart and pick some up.

Folks, let me tell you, their ain’t nuthin’ like workin’ on a car in a Wal-Mart parking lot in the south. Having that I have not lived below the Mason-Dixon line for about 15 years, I forgot. I think there are guys that hang around in their pick-up trucks waiting for a hood to open, so they can help out. That has got to be the answer. Not really, lots of guys tend to sit in their cars, havin’ a smoke with the air conditioning on while the wife goes in to pick up some things. Just happens their car tends to be a pick-up. (Further south it is referred to as a pick-’em-up truck.) Anyway.

So I wandered out of the store with my brake fluid, and popped open the hood. In the time it took me to break the seal on the fluid, a guy had moseyed on up. “Havin’ problems?”, “No sir, just adding some brake fluid.” “Brake problems eh? Don’t want to mess with that, they makin funny noises?”, “Nope, just need to add this here fluid.”

A side note to the the designers of the 2003 Ford Windstar, why the heck did you put the brake fluid reservoir in such a spot that you cannot get to it without making a mess, much less able to pour anything into it, can’t even see a way to put a funnel there. I mean, this is perhaps the first car I have owned that I can get to the transmission fluid stick without burning my hand, and the brake reservoir is under the dashboard?

Back to the story.

As flies are attracted to certain things, guys are attracted to other things.

Guy 2: Need a jump? I got my cables in the truck
Guy 1: Naw, he’s havin’ brake problems.
Guy 2: I don’t like workin’ on these new cars with all the computers and stuff on ‘em.
Guy 1: Yeah, it’s gettin’ so that ya can’t do nuthin’ to your car.
Me: yup
Guy 2: yup

By now I filled the reservoir, and was trying to close the hood.

Guy 3: Problem?
Me: Well...
Guy 3: Usually the problem is that the terminals on the battery are dirty, just need to take a wire brush to up and clean it right up, got a brush right over there in my truck.
Guy 2: Naw, his brakes are ruint. (ruined, as it tiir runit- your tire is flat)
Guy 3: I got a guy that works on Fords, does I good job, want me to give him a call?
Guy 1: Really who?
Guy 3: Jimmy..uh..can’t remember his name, used to work down to the Midas down over
Guy 2: Smitty?
Guy 3: He opened his own place where the old BP used to be..
Guy 1: Yeah, Smitty
Guy 3: I can get you his number if you need, might need a tow over there if your brakes are bad.
Me: No, just topping off my brake fluid, not a problem really. But thanks for your help.
Guy 3: hey your battery terminals look good, you should be all set to go, give it a try.
Me: Uh, thanks guys. I appreciate your help.

I put down the hood, started up and eased away from the conversation.

Where as usually in my neck of the woods, you can have your hood open, holding onto jumper cables, and you still have to ask for help, or just call AAA.

One day I helped a guy get his car started, and someone came sheepishly over and asked if I could help her with her car, spent a fair amount of time that day in the parking lot.

Hey Audi designers- Why the heck is the battery hidden? Had to get her owner’s manual to figure out where it was.

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