Optimist Prime

WAY TO GO

You know that feeling you get when you see pictures of yourself at a party and you gasp at how old and flabby the photographer made you look?

It shakes the soft foundation of your fragile ego.  Well, this blog isn’t about that….at least not directly.

I’ve been reading back on some of my older material, and decided that I’ve been a bit bitter lately.  Not ‘Ben’s Bitter Bog‘ bitter, but at least pretty sarcastic with a touch of nasty thrown in.

But that’s not me!  Like those terrifying photos, where I try to convince myself it was bad lighting or the camera put on 10 or 40 pounds, I want people to know that this guy is actually pretty light-hearted and fun.

I can tell jokes, and smile at strangers.  I even used to whistle, until I heard on the radio that no one whistles anymore….except for old people.  That sucks, but what song would you whistle to now anyway?  ‘Wrecking Ball?’  ‘Uptown Funk?’  Not exactly whistling music. Even older stuff by my standards wouldn’t do.  ‘Black Dog?’ ‘One Scotch-One Bourbon-One Beer?’ They wouldn’t work either….maaaaybe ‘Hotel California’.

Anyway!  Back to me.

I thought about how I might be perceived based on my blogs, and after reading them, I figured it was time for a change.
grave

So, I had this epiphany about being a bit too negative, and realized that I don’t want that to be etched on my gravestone.  I mean, that’s the one thing in your life that really is written in stone, isn’t it?

Oh, boy – now you probably think I’m being morbid and obsessed with death.  Not true!  In fact, I typically take stupid risks believing that I won’t get hurt.

Alright – off topic again.  This self-realizations stuff is harder than I thought.

Back to the blog.  I think I need to start being more positive.  More glass-half-full, as they say.  I need to share the silver lining in life more often, and leave people smiling and happy.  And, dammit!  That’s what I’m gonna do, even if I hate it, and have to drag my family along kicking and screaming on this impossible mission!

For starters, I’m going to stop commenting on all those political attack ads.  They are poison to the soul, and I for one, will not be a party to such negativity.  Of course, if it’s against someone I support, it would be wrong to just allow malicious comments go unchecked.

Springtime has not been my favourite season.  You may have even read an earlier blog from me, attacking this very important part of the year.  In fact, it’s my second favourite season – right behind the other 3.  But, I’m a new man, and I will embrace the spastic weather, the frozen then thawed dog poop stuck to the bottom of my shoes, and those annoying little bugs that show up and get into everything.  Yup – I am Mr. Spring Sunshine and Rain!  I’m almost even looking forward to allergy season.  Bring on the pollen!

Traffic is another area where I will transcend road rage and frustration, and will endeavor to find peace and harmony even if that dingbat in the left lane won’t move over. People who cut me off are simply poor heathens who aren’t as developed as I am.  So, I will wave a finger at them in show of support of their growth opportunities.  And I can’t forget to smile while doing it…it’s important to repeat actions until they become habits.

Telemarketers are brothers, sisters, children, parents and friends, just like real people.  Why should I add to the misery of their scum-sucking jobs by yelling at them for interrupting my supper, or TV, or staring at the wall?  No, from now on, I’m going to engage them in a fully detailed account about my colonoscopy.  If they give me their email address, I can even send them some high-res pictures.   Who else but a complete optimist would be happy to share a bit of their personal lives with a total stranger?  Now, that’s sharing with my fellow man!

I’m already feeling very in tune with nature, just by opening up and sharing with you, my faithful blog-groupies.  The sun is shining a little bit brighter as the glare blinds my path.  Birds that nest in my dryer vent sound all the sweeter as I try to dig them out with a broom stick.  I even feel healthier and lighter, particularly since I switched to stretch-waist pants.

Wow!  Being a positive, optimistic blogger has been a life-changing process.  No more crabby weather complainer, or disgruntled customer service guy.  From now on, it’s all good!

Even today, while watching the hockey game, I was overheard saying,  ‘Good call, ref!’. Ahhh…peace and harmony.

By the way, there really is a ‘Ben’s Bitter Blog’ – it’s really depressing!!

http://bensbitterblog.com/

 

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Do they call it ‘Chinese Food’ in China?

DSCF1557If you ever find yourself standing on a street corner in Shanghai, you might find these handy tips helpful – I wish I had them before I went there…

  • It’s really, really far away…like on the other side of the world far away.  You should pack some snacks for the trip….and definitely go to the washroom before you leave.
  • You will stand out.  Especially if you’re ‘Caucasian’ with white hair.  It’s like ‘Where’s Waldo’, but the total opposite.
  • Crosswalks are for dare-devils…unless your host insists that it’s okay for you to step out into traffic, ‘because the locals are terrified of killing a foreigner’.
  • If you have a language barrier, giving them the ‘thumbs up’ sign of approval doesn’t translate.  They probably think you’re asking to hitchhike.
  • Massages are very popular there – everyone goes to get massages…but if a lady approaches you on the street and asks if you want a massage, say no.  In fact, just walk away and pretend you didn’t see them.
  • People will try to sell you Rolex watches that only cost $50 here….see above.
  • $1 = 5 RMB (Chinese Dollars) and you should haggle down to less than half of any price for merchandise.  Make a ridiculous offer, and when they say ‘no‘, just walk away – they’ll come and find you.
  • You won’t find Sweet & Sour Chicken Balls on any menu, but you will find jellyfish, duck tongues, eel, snake, and other things you didn’t know you could eat.
  • When your host offers you an exotic dish that you really aren’t interested in trying, it’ll get put on your plate anyway….and you better eat it.
  • Forks and knives look like 2 sticks…it’s okay to stab your food with them.
  • Don’t drink the water unless it comes in a bottle or has been boiled….just trust me on this one.
  • Tea comes in 2 flavors; black or green. Both are safe to drink.
  • There’s a lot of people there…like more than you can count.  Even if you could, double it.
  • The roads seem the same as here, but 4 lanes means between 3 and 6 lanes of traffic there, and the lines are only vague recommendations.
  • The concept of personal space on the subway in Shanghai doesn’t exist.  Have a mint before commuting.
  • The police drive around with their emergency lights flashing, but they don’t seem to be going anywhere in particular, and no one gets out of their way.  I don’t know what would happen in a real emergency….for example, if a foreigner gets run over at a crosswalk.

For more travel tips, check out my blog; ‘No Gravy for Old Men’.

https://troypulchinski.wordpress.com/2014/11/11/no-gravy-for-old-men/comment-page-1/

Things that bug me (but probably shouldn’t)

Bugs meDon’t know if it’s just that I’m getting old and crusty, or I’ve been reading too much of ‘Ben’s Bitter Blog’, but there’s a bunch of stuff that drives me nuts.  Stuff that really shouldn’t:

  • People who call water heaters ‘hot water heaters’….you don’t need to heat hot water!
  • Running out of soap in the soap dispenser and pumping the thing like crazy and finally giving up but not going and refilling it and doing it again later
  • Opening the door to let the dog out and having a swarm of flies come buzzing into the house like they’ve been waiting there all along
  • Cars blocking the right turn lane at an intersection because they’re going straight even though it’s a right turn lane and the 6 cars turning right behind it have to wait until the light turns green…
  • People who don’t have any spacial awareness with their shopping carts and block the aisles in the stores while reading the ingredients on a soup can and no one can go around them and they don’t even notice or don’t care 
  • That smudge on my glasses that I can’t get rid of and it’s dead center in my line of sight
  • Having the coffee maker shut off half way through making a pot
  • Filling the car with gas an hour before the price drops
  • People who mis-dial you and leave a message for someone else even though you clearly identify yourself on the outgoing message
  • People who leave an outgoing message on their answering machine by only providing their phone number – the one you just dialed!
  • Putting your garbage out on a really windy day and by the time the garbage truck comes, the recycling box has blown down the street then you have to go on a search mission to get your recycling boxes back
  • Nose hair….on anyone
  • Dog owners who let their pets ‘go’ on my lawn
  • E-bikes, mopeds or scooters that go too slow to follow, but are on streets that don’t allow you to pass
  • Cars parked directly across from each other on narrow streets, making it nearly impossible to navigate
  • ‘Continental Breakfasts’….bring me bacon!
  • Button-fly jeans.  I’m over 50…buttons are for shirts, not pants
  • 3 ring binders – I’m left-handed.

Ahh!  Now that feels better….

Anything bugging you?

Seniors: Yard Sale Predators

senior yard saleThey start early, getting a jump on the competition.  Scanning the ads in the local paper, marking the good ones with a yellow highlighter, counting out the money in their change purse – hiding the big bills so as not to suggest they’re willing to pay too much.  Pulling out the map book and planning a route for Saturday morning.  Meticulously scheduled, their logistical prowess would humble the military.

Up and dressed before dawn, they set out in their beige Buick, tank full – trunk empty.  Like tea-cozy predators, they move with fluid precision through the neighbourhoods, staking out their victims before the tables are even set up.

The scent of musty clothing attracts them like sharks to blood.  Mixed with a fresh spritzing of rosewater, a frenzied, feverish rush comes over the seniors like a wave of Ben Gay joint rub, and it’s on!

The big Buick slows to a purr.  Only the constant melodic ‘tic-tic’ of the left turn signal breaks the still silence of their stealthy patrol.

The best yard sale veterans know that you don’t stop the car unless  you spot  something good.  Parking and walking around wastes valuable time and energy, so like gang-banging low riders cruising through East LA, they lower the power windows and ease up on the gas.  She slowly reaches across the seat and without even looking, gently touches his hand.  The silver-gray hairs on his arm stand up in excitement.

‘Stop’, she whispers, almost song-like.

He can’t hear and keeps driving…….”STOP!” she finally shouts.

The over-used brakes on the Buick creak the big boat to a halt, dead in the middle of the street.  Motorists honk at the sudden stop in traffic, but their protests are in vain.  The old couple have locked on to a potential find, set amongst makeshift tables made of wood beams and saw horses.

A treasured find usurps any traffic law.

“What do you see?”, he asks cautiously.  She says nothing, but reaches for the door handle.  It won’t open…he hasn’t put the car in park yet.

She throws a contemptible look at him.  He will pay later for this blunder – after their nap.

“What do you see?” he repeats, now with the Buick safely in the park position.

“I can’t believe it”, she says.  “Must be a fake”.

There on a rickety card table covered with a plastic checkered table cloth sits a set of clear blue candlesticks glistening in the morning light.  Beside them is a matching 4-piece wine goblet set.  The mother load!

Even with her advanced glaucoma, she easily spotted them from the moving car.  Years of instinct and practice have paid off.  The big wrap-around polarized sunglasses help, too.

She’s a pro, and offers the first volley as she approaches the display; “How much for the mugs?“, she asks, knowing that the answer is irrelevant.  She’s not here for the mugs.  She wants to see who she’s up against before entering the negotiating ring for what she’s really come for.

$1 each”, the friendly seller replies.

What if I want all 4 of them?” The crafty senior asks, testing the waters.

Well, they’d be $4 total, but I can throw in a Disney movie or a book for free if you took them all”.

They’re good, she thinks to herself.  Bundling to move more product.  Very savvy.  This person is a worthy foe, but all the best rewards are hard fought for.  Her husband leans in to hear.  He’s seen this seductive dance before.

“No thanks. I’ve already got too many mugs”, the old lady rebuffs.

While the husband distracts the seller with a shallow conversation about the cool weather they’ve been having, the old woman slides over to the table with the candlesticks and wine glasses.  She doesn’t pick them up right away.  She doesn’t want them to think she’s too eager.

“Hmm” she muses. “These tea cups are cute, but they don’t match my set”.  All part of the carefully choreographed game she plays with the unsuspecting seller.

Now the husband moves in close to her, suggesting they should leave.  This is her cue to reach for the blue ‘gold’ she’s after.  It takes all her strength to keep from shaking.  These are the real deal!  She can tell by the weight and the markings on the bottom.

“What do you think of these, Herb?” She asks, with a doubtful look on her face.  Betty Davis would be humbled by her acting abilities. He shrugs his shoulders in a perfect wing man tact – act like you’re not that impressed.  In reality though, he shrugged because he couldn’t hear what she asked.

Now she’s ready.  All week – the planning, the scheduling, the stops only to watch Jeopardy and eat some creamed corn on toast.  It all comes down to this.

“I’ll give you $5 for those dusty old candle sticks…and the matching glasses”, in an uncaring manner, but her loins quiver and a bead of sweat appears on her brow.  It could just be the heat.

“Well, I think they’re some kind of antique.  I was hoping to get $20 for them”, was the quick reply.

Foreplay, the old lady thinks.  This just makes the climax all the more intense.

“For those things?  They’re not worth that much. How about $10?”.  She tries not to blink as a curl pops out of her tight blue-rinsed weave.  Her husband has moved in closely, just in case her bum knee gives out on her like last week.

“Okay, I guess so.  SOLD!”

SOLD.  The old couple have waited all week for that one brief moment of pure ecstasy on hearing those words. SOLD.

He looks at her, and she looks back at him.  Their hands touch as they reach for their bounty.  Her soft, nearly opaque skin glistens against his gnarled hands, but at that instant, they breathe deeply together.

He pays the seller, and she reaches for a tissue tucked into the sleeve of her blouse and dabs her upper lip.  The big Buick barks back to life, releasing the traffic chaos it created.

Later, as they admire the new finds on their fireplace mantle, they fall asleep in each others arm chairs, while a rerun of Matlock drones in the background.

Next week?  The Flea Market.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Bus Ride

This blog is a departure from my usual style, but I felt compelled to write it.  I hope you enjoy it, or at least see the metaphors in your own ‘bus ride’.

When you’re young and just starting out, you begin a long journey that will last the better part of your lifetime.  Everything you learned up to now was designed to prepare you for a long bus trip, and almost all of us will take that ride.

You stand, excited and scared at the same time, with thousands of other people, young and old alike, waiting to get on a bus.  Buses of all sizes, shapes, and colours, numbering in the hundreds, rev their engines and vie for a spot on the road, or are parked to let people on or off.  You wonder which bus you should try to board, or perhaps more importantly, which bus will let you on.

You stand at the doorway to a bus you seem to like, and the driver may talk to you.  If they like you, they may ask you to board, and travel with them, hopefully to your destination, although that destination hasn’t been determined yet – at least not for you.

You may have to talk to a lot of bus drivers.  Some will close the door without acknowledging you were even standing there.  Others say they have to make a stop first, but will come back for you, but never show up again.

In time, you will find a seat on a bus that will take you.  The bus is crowded, but you locate a seat at the back that you will share with a total stranger for some time.  The air is thick and hot back there.  No windows – at least not clean enough or near enough to see out of – and no air conditioning.  It’s not pleasant, but the promise of a journey into the future keeps you smiling, or at least tolerating it.

The bus begins to move, and you watch as the busy streets blur around you.  Any sense of direction is lost to you, but you put your trust in the driver, and know that wherever you’re going, it’s better than where you were.

There are buses everywhere, big and small – some slow and broken, others shiny and fast.  Most are just like any other bus, though, and that’s the kind you’re on – conservative and consistent.  Just like you.

The bus makes frequent stops, and some people are escorted off, crying or yelling.  Others jump off as soon as it slows down, and run to another bus.  No explanation is given, and you likely will never see them again.  An empty seat becomes a semi-civilized battle with the other passengers, especially those at the back with little air and no space.

If they’re fortunate enough, someone will move up to the vacant seat, leaving a bit more room for you to stretch out and maybe become known as a good passenger to the few around you.  Often, though, the seat is stolen by someone picked up along the way that the bus stopped for.

Not fair!

On the bus, you get to know the other passengers around you.  Everyone has a different reason to be on the bus, but in the end, they are all  looking for their own destination somewhere down that long road.

Some might become friends, although most will remain ‘that guy’ who says hello to you every morning but you still don’t know his name. Such is life when you are traveling on a great journey, and you begin to realize that the expedition itself is as relevant as the destination you were looking for.

If you’re lucky, seats will become empty further to the front on this very, very long trip, and as you move forward on the bus, you become more well-known and liked.  You try to keep in touch with those at the back, but its tough. The air is cleaner up here, and you can actually see out the side windows, although the path ahead is still not fully in view.

You feel glad you got on a bus that could go so long without any breakdowns or getting lost.  You praise the drivers’ skills and work with the other passengers to make sure the bus keeps on the road, straight and true.  Life is good.

Eventually, after a long time, you realize that your destination, although still an extremely long way off, is actually closer to you now than your starting point, and everything you dreamed of for yourself is coming to fruition.  You have moved a long way forward on the bus, and can even talk to the driver occasionally.

The bus still stops, and people get on and off – either voluntarily or by force.  You don’t make contact with most of them, but a few promise to keep in touch.  Most don’t, though.

The bus has become home.  In fact, you realize you’ve spent more time on the bus than anywhere else as long as you’ve lived.

Some people have changed buses many times, but you, with the exception of a few quick transfers early on, have remained on this bus the whole time.  Even the driver has changed over the years, but the bus has stayed, more or less, on the same path the whole time.

At some point, you notice, however, that the bus has begun to move more slowly.  Other newer, faster buses are better equipped for the road ahead, and pass you quickly.  The destination is not approaching at the rate it once was, and more and more seats are now empty.  Fewer passengers are picked up to fill them. The driver isn’t talking as much as they used to, either.

The bus slows even more, despite the lighter load, and people start to whisper about what the driver is going to do about it.  You all trust him – you have to!  He’ll figure things out and you’ll continue on our route like you always have.  You got on the right bus.

Then one day it happens.  The bus stops, and as you look out the window to see why, you find that you are the next one to be escorted off, along with a few others.  No explanation, or forewarning.  Just a somber handshake and some tips on how to find another bus somewhere else.

So there you are.  Standing on the side of the road, watching the bus amble along without you, shakily heading to the destination that you were sure it would take you to. Shock, sadness, and yes, even anger fill you, and for a while, you can’t even think about getting on another bus.  Even if you did, where would you sit?  Where would the bus be going?  Can you trust the driver and the other passengers?  No – just sit a while and think.

You decide to stay and play for a time – stretch your legs and smell the flowers around you that you sped past all those years.  If feels good to do this, but in the back of your mind, you recall just how much further you still need to travel to reach your destination.  That thought is always there, lurking in the recesses of your brain, like a sinister shadow, threatening to step into full view.

The thought of the long path ahead becomes overwhelming, so you make up a little sign “Great Passenger. Hard Working. Respectful. Loyal. Will take any seat”, and you stand on the side of the road, forcing a smile, waiting for a bus to see you and stop.

Buses pass by so fast that you’re sure they can’t even read the sign.  A few slow down and give you a quick glance, but speed off without stopping.  You stand on the side of the road for a long time, wondering how some people get buses to stop and pick them up, but you can’t.  Is the the sign wrong?  Do you look intimidating? Are you too old……?

A few buses stop, and even let you look inside.  They have an empty seat, and need someone to fill it.  You’re dressed well, and are groomed to give a great impression, but the seat they have is pretty far back, and it might not be a good thing for someone so well groomed to sit back there.

The bus leaves without picking you up.  This happens a lot.

Down the side of the road, you see one of the old passengers from your bus, pushing a motorcycle along the soft shoulder of the road towards you.

They stop when they reach you, and show you the motorcycle they have.  It’s not working, but maybe, with the two of you together, you can get it running and zoom right past all those stinky, noisy buses to your destination in record time.  No more bus drivers deciding who gets on or off, and when.  You’re the drivers now!

You have nothing to lose, but as you both push the old machine along in the soft sand, you tape the sign to your back – just in case.

The hope of getting that motorcycle running keeps your energy up for a while, but the tires don’t roll in the sand very well, and for some reason the engine just won’t start.  You keep watching over your shoulder, hoping another bus might just stop and pick you up.  It’s a tactic that’s mixed with wishful thinking and guilt, but one that you hope will pay off.

Others on motorcycles pass along the way.  You are conflicted with desire for yourself, and jealousy that they got theirs working while you still push yours along in the hot sun.  Still, the thought of being in the drivers seat brings new hope, and you push on, despite the odds.

At times, when you’re alone on the road, those dark shadows flow into the light like a river breaking its protective banks.  It wasn’t supposed to be like this.  The bus was supposed to carry you all the way to your destination.  How will you get there now?  It’s way to far to walk, the motorcycle idea doesn’t seem to be working, and despite a few stops, no bus has made a seat available to you.  How did this happen to a good person? It’s not fair.  But, as they say, life isn’t fair.  No one was out to get you.  No malicious intent was a part of anyone’s agenda. S**t happens sometimes.

In the end, there’s no guarantees.  You may never get on a bus to begin with, and even if you do, it might be a short trip.  You were luckier than most.  You had a good ride – and a long one.  Time to stop the pity party, and do what you’ve done before.  You’re smarter now than you were back then.  You know which buses to stay away from and which ones can get you all the way to your destination.

This is nothing more than another new adventure.  A bump in the road, and you should be excited like you were when you stepped foot on that first bus so long ago.

Except this time, the stakes are a lot higher.  You have more skin in the game, and more people are expecting big things out of you. Failure is not an option, and the bus drivers have a lot more questions now than they did back then.

Where will you end up?  Will you ever get that motorcycle running, or will you have to take a few buses to get there?  You’ll never know.  The only thing to do is to know that everyone you’ve ever met is rooting for you, and wants to see you get there, and that somehow, it will happen.

Leap and the net will appear.  Keep those dark shadows behind the banks as much as possible, and when you feel like they’re seeping in, run for the high ground of friends and family.  They’ll always carry you.

Have faith in God.  He has big plans for you.  This change is a chance to reassess your path and to listen to what he’s calling you to.  There’s a purpose for everything, even, if like that first part of your bus trip, you can’t see it yet.

I wish for your bus ride to be full of adventure, great friends, deep faith, and an awesome destination.  You can’t ask for much more than that.

Safe travels, my friend.

 

 

 

 

Design Flaw

You can stand in a field, holding a small electronic device and have a ‘real-time’ video conversation with someone halfway around the globe, but the kitchen appliance companies can’t make that stupid drawer at the bottom of the stove stay on its tracks when you pull it out.

Sometimes we simply put up with lousy design like it’s too hard for the builders of such things to make them work properly.

We can tunnel from two different points, miles apart, and have them meet up perfectly in the middle, but the lighter on the barbeque quits after about 3 months.  Instead of insisting on better design, we usually get one of those butane lighters or turn on the gas and throw matches in, hoping to not blow ourselves up.  Heck, even the stupid lighters don’t work properly.  I have one in the drawer that’s half-full but won’t spark.

Shopping carts with one wheel that won’t turn properly!  Aaargh!!  It’s a wheel, for Pete’s sake!  They’ve been around since the stone age.

How about that packaging that you can’t get in to?  Well, a company made a nifty little device that will cut right through it with ease.  The problem?  It comes in the same bullet-proof packaging that you can’t get into in the first place.  Brilliant!

My biggest complaint has to be about windshield wipers.  How is it that we’ve had cars on the road for more than 100 years, that now have the technology to see around corners, park themselves, control the climate, talk to you, give directions, heat your bum on cold mornings, but the crappy wipers are frozen to the windshield,

making the only really important thing about driving – being able to see where you’re going – nearly impossible!

I don’t get it.  Why can car makers not get this figured out? There are after-market washer fluid heaters you can install so those little jets don’t clam up with ice.  Okay, that’s a good start, but it still won’t make the frozen wipers squeegee the glass properly.  And, why does that have to be an after-market item?

Many cars have heaters that warm up the windshield, but usually it doesn’t heat the wiper blades, so they just flop back and forth, smearing the snow-yuck around instead of clearing it from view.

Maybe the car engineers are being paid off by the windshield washer fluid companies.  When the wipers don’t work properly, your only option is to keep hitting the wash button until you’ve spent the entire jug.

Where is Ralph Nader when we need him?  Why doesn’t Consumer Report mention this problem?

I made a deal with my son, who is in school to become an engineer, that his first task once he’s done, is to come up with a way to keep the wipers warm and nimble in any weather condition.

Is that the real key here?  Is it an ignorance of the northern climates by the big auto makers?  Do they think everyone lives in California?  All that advertizing showing their vehicles crashing happily through snowbanks would suggest not, but what’s the deal?

Hey, GM and Ford, Chrysler and Toyota…you gotta have about 20,000 well-trained professionals figuring out how to get the car to say ‘Good Morning’ to you when you step onto your driveway.  How about you put a couple of them on the wiper issue, eh?

That’d be swell…and just in time for summer.

One head light…

From time to time, all cars have a breakdown of some sort.  Sometimes it’s that little yellow engine light that comes on, suggesting that something terrible is happening, only to find out that the gas cap wasn’t put back on properly.

Other times, it’s an amber prophecy of dire things to come…usually on the side of the road…at a time when it’s the most inconvenient thing to happen…and it’s raining…and you’re late.

It’s so much worse with cars when the problem isn’t so much with the vehicle itself, but with the people working on them.

Something like this just happened to my car. If this didn’t actually happen to me, I wouldn’t have believed it.  I am not making any of this up…I have witnesses!

About 3 weeks ago, I noticed a burned out headlight.  Simple enough to replace, and light bulbs aren’t too expensive.  I did a little web search on how to change the bulb in my vehicle, which was really no help.

I decided I’d try it anyway, and if I ran into trouble, I’d bring it in to my local dealer to get it fixed.  I picked out some fancy new ‘high intensity’ bulbs, so I could see better in these cold dark winter nights.

Replacing the bulb was pretty simple, but it was -26 degrees outside, and bare skin on cold metal isn’t fun.

I decided to swap out both bulbs, since if one went, it would just be a matter of time before the second one would go, and I wanted them to match.  Esthetics are very important to me, you know.

A couple of days later, my Son noted that my headlight was out.  What?  I just changed it!

I pulled it back into the entrance of my crowded garage, and opened the hood again.  When I touched the connection cable for the light, it came back on.  Aha!

The light would turn on and off intermittently, so I knew I needed to get it in to the shop.  There was something more going on here.

The dealership immediately suggested that it was a bad bulb.  No, I said.  I just changed the bulb, and the connection was loose.

They, being much smarter in the way of light bulbs than I, concluded that it was indeed a bad bulb, and charged me about $300 to fix it and do a couple additional ‘maintenance’ things while they had the keys.

Fine.  Sure enough, the next day, the light was out again.  Now I was getting a bit frustrated.  I called them up and explained the problem.

Must be another bad bulb, they quickly surmised.

“No, I’m pretty darn sure it isn’t the bulb.  It must be an electrical connection problem.”

Without arguing the point, I booked it back into the dealership.

After another full day of my vehicle being in the shop, they called and said that after an exhaustive investigation, it turns out that the bulb was good, and that there was indeed an electrical problem.  Halleluiah!

Unfortunately, they went on to say, they had to order in a brand new headlight assembly, but it would be here Tuesday, as if that was a good thing.

Fine!  I said I’d come and get it, so I had something to drive until Tuesday.

“We’re closing in 10 minutes”. 

I live about 25 minutes away from the dealership, so I had to wait until the next day to go back and get it.

They said they’d call me on Tuesday when the part came in.

Tuesday came and went. No call.  So did Wednesday.  No call, no headlight.

On Thursday, I called them. The part had just arrived.  I booked the car back in for Friday to get it replaced.  They told me it would only take an hour, so I could just wait for it there.

Here are the sequence of events that unfolded over the next 36 hours:

Friday Morning – Headlight Repair.  Take III:

8:29 am:  Arrive at dealership

8:35 am: Notified by service adviser of 2 minor recalls on vehicle

8:37 am: Approved of additional work – asked for ride home since it would now take a few hours with the extra work

8:37 am: Advised that shuttle driver would take me home in 15 minutes

9:26 am: Asked service adviser where shuttle driver is

9:31am: Shuttle driver loaded me into his vehicle

2:04 pm: Called dealership on status of vehicle

2:07 pm: Car was ready. Will send shuttle driver right away

3:07 pm: Called back dealership.  No shuttle driver in sight

3:16 pm: After long hold with bad music, adviser tells me that they broke a fuel line part and the car won’t be ready. Maybe Tuesday.

3:17 pm: Swear under my breath.

3:17 pm:  Adviser offers a rental car for me

3:40 pm:  Shuttle driver arrives.  Doesn’t know where rental place is

4:01 pm:  Arrive at rental place thanks to the maps app on my phone

4:18 pm:  Handed keys to smallest car on the lot.  Summer tires.

4:20 pm:  Rental has no gas in it.  Rental office is closed for the night

4:21pm: Swear under my breath. Drive shoebox with wheels to nearest gas station

Saturday Morning

10:31 am:  Urgent message on my cell phone from dealership to call them

11:04 am:  Called back dealership.  On hold for 5 minutes.  Bad music

11:09 am:  Service manager picks up and explains that an ‘incident’ occurred with my vehicle

11:10 am:  Told service manager that I knew about the broken fuel line thing.

11:12 am:  Service manager explains that something else happened.  There was open fuel and someone started my vehicle.  There was a fire.

11:17 am:  I regained consciousness and asked for explanation

11:19 am:  Service Manager said they got the fire out and it only caused about $4,000 in damage to my vehicle

11:20 am:  Service Manager asked me to attend the scene of the fire

11:35 am:  Drive over-sized skateboard rental car to dealership

11:45 am:  Service Manager took me around back where partially burned out vehicle was sitting

12:00 pm:  Service Manager informed me that they were very sorry and put a rush on the new parts

12:01 pm:  Reminded Service Manager that the only thing wrong with the vehicle was a burned out headlight.  Now I have a burned out vehicle

12:05 pm:  Service Manager assured that the parts would be in on Tuesday

Perfect.