09 October 2010

The Sweet Sound

The Sweet Sound

So I come home and it's already been a day, I mean it has been one of those daily grinds where nothing in particular has gone right or wrong and there is nothing really to make it an easy day or a difficult day or even to distinguish it from any other day. The only quality of the day that comes to mind is of what I call grindiness. That is the grind of daily life that has made the hours between pulling in and out of the driveway seem so long and at times tedious.

I turn off the ignition, get out the car [buzzing] and walk down the drive to check the mail. [buzzing] I hear this continuous buzzing sound like a leaf blower, but [buzzing] cannot quite identify where it is coming from. Okay, part of my brain clearly knows exactly where it's coming from because I am looking everywhere it's not coming from. I don't want it to be coming from my car so that's the last thing I check. [buzzing] I peak over the fence into the backyard, realize the noise is behind me, look across the street, and finally give in, lower my head close to the engine compartment and sure enough the cooling fan is buzzing right along in there.

At first, I am not overly concerned. Don't car fans always run for a bit once you turn the engine off? Well in point of fact my Honda is close to fifteen years old and I have never known that fan to run after the engine has been turned off, but it speaks to my complete terror and distaste for car repairs that I am willing to say to myself that perhaps I've just never noticed it, that the fan [buzzing] has probably been doing this for years without my noticing. On some level I know better, but this idea is an easy sell to me because it's one that will let me go inside my house and eat a bowl of chocolate chip cookie dough ice-cream while [buzzing] I give the situation a chance to resolve itself.

Thus once again I have failed to live up to that uber-male ideal in my head who knows the mysteries of yard work, work politics, electrical work, plumbing, talking to women, and car repair. The uber-male would change out of his nice work clothes, come outside in jeans, roll up his sleeves, hang his shop light from the hood over the engine compartment, and with a magician's flourish, reach in, check and adjust ten or eleven things, [buzzing] then walk into the garage, pull out a high temperature thermo sensor fan switch off the shelf where it's grow dusty since the day uber-male picked it up "just in case." It would take uber-male five minutes to replace the part, a good two or three minutes of which would be devoted to him wiping his hands and putting away his tools after he's finished. "There!" uber-man would say as he closes the hood and wipes a spot on the car's gleaming finish, "That should fix her!"

In point of fact, I don't dress as snappily as I should, I don't have a garage, I don't know all that much about cars, and as for that gleaming finish… well it doesn't describe my car because whatever gene allows uber-man to devote the time and energy necessary to keeping his car meticulously detailed, I don't have. Nor have I hit such a point in life or in the lottery to allow me the ability to delegate such tasks to others. My solution to the probleme du jour is to try denial and hope the problem will just go away on its own. [buzzing] I decide to give it a half-hour and then come back outside and reassess the situation.

I enter my domicile, turn off the alarm, [beep] stash groceries in the kitchen, and prepare the aforementioned bowl of ice-cream. I settle on the couch to ponder the matter and to give my car's engine a chance to cool. [beep]

So I sit on the [beep] couch eating ice-cream and feeling no small amount of self-loathing at the calories I am downing (uber-man wouldn't, he's naturally thin and looks a lot like Charles Atlas did in those ads in the back pages of comics or Boy's Life) when I realize that ever since I have entered my house I have been [beep] hearing one of those damn beeping sound. I look for the obvious source, a smoke detector. Most of them are lying fairly near where they normally mount to the ceiling and none of them currently have batteries. Evidently, prompt replacement of batteries is not something I have yet to achieve judging from the layer of dust I find on these wonderful devices that could save my house and potentially even my life if I could just be bothered to put batteries in them. I will have to go out of my way to avoid firemen, rescue workers, my insurance agent, and more practical minded friends until I get this situation resolved. I cannot stand disapproval.

I my search for the source of the beeping I come up empty. In fact [beep] I am having a terrible time identifying what room the sound is coming from. So I begin to circumnavigate the house trying to triangulate the source that is beeping about once every sixty seconds. It doesn't sound like a harsh interrogation technique, but after only five minutes I am ready to start giving up my secrets. [beep] I stand in the hallway sixty seconds [beep] stick my head in the hall closet for sixty seconds eyeing the burglar alarm suspiciously[beep] then I try the living room [beep] master bedroom [beep] hall again [beep] kitchen to refill ice cream bowl [beep] study [beep] guest room [beep] hallway again [beep] coat closet [beep] guest bedroom [beep] guest bedroom closet [beep] guest bedroom [beep] hallway again [beep] guest bedroom again [beep] guest bedroom [beep] guest bedroom closet [beep. I open the lid and look inside a large plastic bin containing a large wooden antique telephone and one combination smoke alarm carbon dioxide detector from my old apartment. I remove the batteries, and wait and… [_____].

I return my ice-cream bowl to the kitchen, find a flashlight, and venture out into the darkness to see if the fan is still running on my car. Oh please let it not be running. [buzz] Still going. It has been a long day and I am not at my best. I don't want to deal with this, but clearly something must be done or the battery on my car is going to run down. It cannot power the fan forever. I scratch my head and wander inside to consult the modern day oracle for all questions, the Internet. The Internet is a marvelous tool, but diagnosing obscure car problems isn't something it's particularly good at. I leave my computer confused, befuddled, and annoyed, but I know that I need to stop that fan from running at least for the night. So I drive the car down the interstate for a bit, turn around and come back to the house just to see if that resets anything. It doesn't. I realize that it's time to disconnect the battery, get some sleep, and reconsider the entire matter in the morning.

By now it's gotten dark. I don't have any working lights on the driveway. [buzz] That's one of the home repairs that uber-man does without breaking a sweat. So I am standing in the dark with a Maglite jammed into my armpit going through every possible socket in my collection of tools trying to find the size that will allow me to unclamp the terminal and disconnect the battery. Uber-man would take a look at the bolt, reach into his carefully organized set of tools, and pluck the correct size from its resting place on the first try. But in the dark after a particularly grindy day, it seemed like I had a plastic file box of sockets that were all the same wrong size I had to try about twenty of them [buzz] and was seriously beginning to wonder if I was going to be standing out there all night trying to disconnect the battery and listening to the fan get slower and slower as the battery died when on or about try number twenty one I found the right socket, loosened the battery cable, and disconnected it. The fan fell silent. [_____] I reconnected it. [buzz] I disconnected it. [_____]

The next morning after much debate, I decided to take the car to the shop rather than to try to follow the long list of possibilities pointed to by the Internet. I think multiple parts, multiple junk yards, many multiple hours driving around disconnecting and reconnecting the battery every time I stop might make it worth paying a professional to figure it out. I call the shop, make an appointment. I gather my things. I go outside. I connect the battery. [buzz] The fan starts buzzing away again. At least it seems to be consistent and reproducible.

I drive to the repair shop about fifteen minutes away and worry about how late I am going to be to work. Can I really afford to be late? I park in the repair yard at Summit Automotive. I turn the engine off and get out of the car.


It's been a few days now. I have been carrying around the wrench in the glove box needed to disconnect the battery. The problem has not yet reoccurred.

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