Down And Dirty

December 15, 2009 at 5:30 PM | Posted in Journal | Leave a comment
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I’ll go ahead and give the ending away–we survived the weekend without water.  But it wasn’t pretty, in more ways than one.
Detroit paid the Intarweb bill, so that’s back on.  The other bills loom large in the background.  I worked Friday night and Saturday night at Imo’s, which I will discuss later.  Friday wasn’t too bad, but Saturday, I really felt like I needed a shave.  And a haircut.  And a shower.  And a nap.
Detroit bought five gallons of water, and over the course of the weekend I filled the jugs up twice.  Once from the neighbor, and once from my sister’s house.  There was stuff I was supposed to do…but no water kept me from doing it because how could I get cleaned up afterward?
Just so you know–yeah, I’ve been peeing in the yard alot.
Plus, the stress and aggravation from having my water hose tied behind my back just put the brakes on any progress on anything I might have done.
Meanwhile, at my sister’s ranch, the high winds from a few nights ago broke window.  It was one that I had been meaning to fix…for about 15 years.  And you know, I had two replacement windows put in the other two bedrooms but not this one.  So, just how bad were the other two that this was the best one of them?  Cause this window has been shitty for a while.
She found a window on Craigslist and went and got it and paid for it herself.  In her mind, this was a triumph of high caliber.  Set the bar low, honey.  Her friend Lou has done windows before, and I haven’t.  So I figured we would do it together.  Actually, I figured I would do it and he would help.  As it turned out, he did it and I helped.  But I learned a new skill, so yay.
Actually, you could break it down into two new skills, because I also learned how to remove an old window.  We got it in, and it fit surprisingly well.  I’m impressed that my sister measured that accurately, and surprised that she was lucky enough to find one. 

It was dark, and we were done.  But I was supposed to do Detroit’s brakes today.  I had even bought the brake pads the day before.  I swore I would do them, even in the dark.  But when push came to darkness, I was ready to compromise.
I said to Detroit, “How about this:  Tomorrow, you take my car, and I’ll stay home in the morning and work on yours, and wait for the water to get turned back on.  Because at the very least, I need to shave before I go to work.  And after working on the car, I’m going to need to shower (more than I do now.)”
She agreed to this plan.  In the morning, she took my car to work.  With the brake pads in the back seat.
She called me later, and said hey, she found–
Yeah, yeah.  I know.  I just got back from buying new ones.
Monday morning was nice–and as I watched the weather–it was going to be the last nice day for a while.  I had to get this done.  But front brakes are not a big deal at all.
“How do you know it’s front brakes?  The noise seemed like it was coming from the back.”
“Because, 90% of the time, it’s the front brakes.”  In fact, even if your back brakes are bad, in most cases you don’t even need to change them.  Let it ride, let it ride.  However, I did check to make sure before I bought the second set of pads.
Jack up the car, take off the tire.  Yep.  Front brakes.
Go to store, get pads.  Actually, go to the second store, because the first store didn’t have them.
I opened the brake reservoir, and took off the caliper.  Uh…the caliper is a little stiff, like my dick.  You need to be able to compress the caliper to get the new pads in.  If you can’t, that means it’s locked up and that means you need to replace it.  I squeezed and squeezed with the big channel locks.  No go.  Let’s think outside the caliper…
I took the caliper completely off, and put it in a vise, and turned.  And kept turning.  Eventually, whatever was frozen broke open, and the caliper opened up.  Go me.  I finished that side, and moved on to the next.  Same problem with the caliper.  Fuck.  This time, it would not squeeze open in the vise.  I went back to Auto Zone, who again did not have it, and the guy was nice enough to call Advanced Auto.
You know, I had a whole story to tell about these two places, but I don’t really care.  The guy at Advanced must have been a manager.  He tried to sell me 31 dollar brake pads when I wanted the 14 dollar ones.  He said the cheaper ones squeak.  Well, asshole, that’s why Auto Zone sells the one dollar packet of grease for the back of the pads.  I said to him, “What, are you some kind of salesman?  I never pay more than 20 bucks for pads.  Never.”
I’m sure he feels that it’s his job to increase sales.  And to do that, he wants to squeeze every dime out of the customer that he can.  My philosophy is that I want to come back to a place that doesn’t try to squeeze me every time I walk through the door.  When I came back to them for the caliper, I picked up the brake lube as well.  “You should have just come here in the first place,” he said, trying to be charming.  That shit was not working on me.
I replaced the caliper, and had Brandon help me bleed the brakes.  Good to go.  I put it all back together, I put the tools away, and I pour out the little bowl I used to catch the brake fluid.  In the bottom was two little washers.  Fuck.  You’re not supposed to have parts left over.
Fuck, fuck.
It was noon, and still no water.  I don’t think I’m going to work today.  I called in and explained–but not about the parts left out, because I wanted to retain some dignity–and said I would work some longer days so I don’t have to take as much PTO.  They were cool.
Back to the van.  I figured out where the washers went–between the brake line and the caliper.  Off they came again.  The first one I took the tire off to get to, but when I put it back on, I thought, *Hey!  Maybe I can do this without taking the tire off!*  And I could.  And so I did.  I turned the wheel all the way to the left and got access.  Not a big deal.  I had to bleed the lines *again.*
And add fluid again.  Not a big deal, except the master cylinder was under the cowl and venting, instead of the hood area.  I could get to it, but there wasn’t enough room over it to tip back a cold one and pour it in.  I needed a funnel, a tube, and…a bungee cord.
I looked all over the garage.  I thought I had every freakin conceivable tool, but not a damn tube.  What I did find to use borders on genius.  A long, flat piece of sheet metal, bent to an angle, an “L” shape.  I had a trough.
I poured the brake fluid down the trough and into the reservoir.  Perfect.  Damn, I’m good.  When I remember all the pieces.

I took a break when I was done, and whilst I was chillin on the couch, the water man cometh.  It took him about three minutes, two and a half of which he spent in his van, filling out a form.  He got out, used a weird tool to open the thing by the street, then used this other long thing to reach into it and turn the water on.  He yelled up to me, “You should have water now.  Go check.”
I did.  We did.  I came back out.  “Thank you!”  He waved and left.  Three fucking minutes.  Three goddamn minutes.  They couldn’t have a guy come out Friday for three minutes?  I don’t give a shit what their fucking excuses are, it’s fucking bullshit.
I used the shower first.  Now, I feel pretty.  oh, so pretty.

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