I Changed My Own Wiper Blades Today
It didn’t start out like this. My first car was a 1965 Dodge Dart — older than me! — with an engine so simple, you could look right through it and see the road beneath.
I learned every part of that engine. (Admittedly, there weren’t very many of them, which was why you could see through it.) The family friend who helped us find the car taught me how it all worked, and how to change the oil, how to jump the car (or another car) — so many useful things.
I don’t even remember all the things I learned then, back when I was an eager newly driving, newly car-owning seventeen-year-old, because it all changed after that.
Cars got more complicated, and I got…busier? Less willing to get my hands oily? I don’t know.
I just know that, though I can add wiper fluid, oh and of course gasoline (though I almost unlearned that living in Oregon for seven years), I wouldn’t have any idea how to change the oil — or do anything else, really — in my current car.
I think part of the problem was urban living. In a big, dense city, you often don’t have a driveway (or, perish the thought, a garage) where you can work on your car. You do, however, have mechanics in easy walking distance of your home, most likely. At least, I did, in both San Francisco and Portland, the two cities I lived in before moving to this remote island.
Living rural now, my husband and I are learning to do a lot more for ourselves. We’re canning, baking, making ice cream and limoncello and shrub…he’s going to do at least part of the work of rebuilding our back deck later this summer…but neither of us feel competent to do anything to our cars.
So when my car’s heater stopped working and my wiper blades started getting funky, I did what I always do: I called the local mechanic.
“Sure,” the guy said, about the heater; “I need to get a part from off-island, though. I’ll give you a call.”
A week went by. Two weeks went by.
The weather got warm. I didn’t care so much about the heater. Not being able to clean my windshield was kind of a drag, though.
Eventually I called the mechanic again. “Oh, I have to order that part from off-island.”
I won’t bore you with the back-and-forth; the upshot is, my heater still blows cold air, and my wiper blades are shredded so badly (see photo) that they basically do nothing.
How hard can it be? I eventually thought. I went online. (How did people do for themselves before the internet? I cannot imagine!) I found out how cheap wiper blades are. I read about how to replace them.
I measured mine. I ordered replacements.
The replacements arrived, in an absurdly long box. (Thanks, Big South American River Prime!)
The absurdly long box sat by the back door…for days and days and days…
Well, I was busy! Lots of work to do. Lots of articles to write. Busy busy busy.
My brother and his family came to visit, so the absurdly long box got moved to the garage. I’d deal with figuring out how to replace the wiper blades…later.
Now it’s today. August 10. And IT’S RAINING.
Not only is it RAINING, but I needed to drive my car across the island. Not our other car: mine.
So I opened the absurdly long box. I pulled out the shiny new packages. I read their directions. They looked straightforward enough.
I went out to my car.
I stared, stymied, at the old shredded wiper blades, and at how they were attached to the car. There was no way those were coming off the car.
I read the directions again. Seriously: it all made no sense.
Back to the internet! Where I found instructions that were much clearer…and so I am delighted to report that, not five minutes later, I had brand-new wiper blades on my car!
It’s an August miracle!
Every single little thing like this that I figure out how to do for myself (with help, with instructions, even with hand-holding — it doesn’t matter, it’s still a thing I learned how to do) makes me feel so amazingly good. When I learned how to barbecue, how to change squishy raw meat into juicy delicious cooked meat over bits of glowing charcoal with no dials or temperature gauges, I felt like a CAVEWOMAN GODDESS. I’m teaching myself InDesign: every book I lay out is a freakin’ miracle. I grow orchids and drive a stick-shift and mow the lawns and build fires and make Dutch Babies.
There’s so much more I need to learn, though. I’d love to raise chickens, but that would mean building a good coop for them…I’d love to learn how to build things like good chicken coops, and greenhouses, and a million other outbuildings that would be so useful here. I don’t know how to chop wood (and it scares me) (my husband is great at it, though). I don’t even know how to sew, or knit, or spin, or weave…and I could be a lot better at canning, too. And baking. I never did get pie crust down, despite my brave words not all that long ago.
And. Most urgently. It would be really helpful if I could figure out how to fix my car’s heater.