Monday, October 6, 2014


You ever have one of those days? You know the kind, where you wake up feel rested and ready to face the day. Take care of all the chores, and when done relax in your favorite way? Yeah, that was me this morning. I woke up knowing I would get the bathroom cleaned, the dishes done and change the burned out tail lights in the Jeep.
And this is where it all went wrong. I knew it was going to be a relaxing and easy day. And this is how it all went down…
Instead of taking the Jeep up to the parts store to get the light bulbs I figured I’d take my motorcycle, Bernadette. But when I went to start her, she wouldn’t turn over, so I pulled out the jumper cables and used the Jeep to get her started. I let Bernadette idle for a bit, then I went for a ride, instead of going right to the parts store I pulled into the Chick-Fil-A drive through for an egg, sausage and cheese biscuit. I then drove to the parts store with my breakfast stuffed inside my leather jacket. At the parts store, I parked in a parking spot, put Bernadette into neutral and let her idle why I ate my breakfast.
Now, this is my second attempt at digesting a Chick-Fil-A breakfast biscuit and I have to say it was awful. The biscuit itself was soggy and undercooked, the egg was tough, the sausage seemed undercooked and I believe they use Velveeta cheese instead of American. After two bites I tossed three quarters of the disgusting, over-priced meal into the bottom of the bag and ate the hash browns that came with the meal. Those little Betties, were awesome. When I finished those crispy spuds I stuffed all the trash into the bag, turned my ride off and went into the parts store just a few minutes before 8:30.
In less than five minutes I had the bulbs and was paying for them. The clerk at the counter looked at my leathers and my helmet and asked “What sort of Harley do you have?”
I answered “2013 1200XL Custom.”
“I ride a ’73 Shovel.”
“Why a Sportster?”
What ensued was ten to fifteen minutes of biker talk. I won’t bore you with the details because unless you’re a biker, most of what we spoke of would be Greek to you. Needless to say, we bonded. His name is Matt and damned if he didn’t know his shit. From bikes to four wheel vehicles, he was on top of his game.
When I left, I knew I’d made a friend who travels on two wheels and would have my back in any bar in America. When I got to Bernadette, I stuffed the light bulbs in my jacket pocket, put the key in the ignition and turned it, flipped the start button, waited for the injectors to inject and then hit the start key. What followed was just a loud set of clicks. No ignition, to engine turn over, no rumbling and low thumping and beautiful aroma of American made pipes kicking out the sensual scent of exhaust.
I hung my head. Shook my head. And pushed the start button again. Same results.
I took my key out of the ignition, dismounted Bernadette and walked back into the parts store. I walked straight to where Matt was standing talking to a customer, I ignored the three other employees and there salutations. When Matt finished with his customer, I told him what happened. He grabbed a battery charger and we went out to try and jump start my ride.
It didn’t work. The battery, not two years old was kaput. Matt assured me he had a replacement. We went inside and $120.00 bucks later, I held in my hands a ten pound motorcycle batter as Matt pushed a cart full of tools out the door.
Two and a half hours later, Matt walked away frustrated. My old battery was still stuck in the battery box, the instructions for replacing the battery had been followed by the two of us yet the battery refused to be removed. I sat there, frustrated, upset and close to getting a jaws-of-life to cut the damnable and useless plastic dry-cell from the frame.
That’s when I thought to myself “What would I do if I were at the museum and had to trouble shoot an exhibit that had no instructions?”
Five minutes later, the old battery was sitting on the ground next to the new battery. However; the new battery was taller, wider and the terminals were on the opposite sides. It was the wrong battery.
I took both plastic cased energy sources back inside the building and showed Matt the differences. He quickly tried to find a battery similar to mine. He failed and reimbursed me my money. I called for a ride to the Harley dealership. Once there, I spent another $120.00 bucks on the proper battery. Back at the parts store, within five minutes I had the new battery installed. The only problem, the battery housing cover wouldn’t snap back into place. No matter how hard I tried, no matter how much I smacked the metal plate, nothing worked. So I tucked the plate into my jacket and drove the mile and a half up to the dealership. After thirty minutes of waiting my bike was road worthy.
By the time I got home it was 1:30 in the afternoon with only a few minutes to get the bulbs changed and go pick my wife up from her appointment that her father took her to earlier in the day.
Now if you’ve never changed the tail-lights in a Jeep then you’re in for quite an experience. Torque screws and plastic retaining pegs make it a delicate and time consuming evolution. Which I performed as quickly and delicately as possible.
So quickly in fact I had enough time to consume a Red Bull and sit on my porch trying to decompress from a day full of aggravation, comedic errors, lost nuts and bolts along with endless hours of head scratching.
While my day was consumed with all the negativity of a pessimist giving a speech to the deaf ears of congress, I managed somehow to survive. I completed one very important task. Even if I didn’t clean the bathroom or do the dishes. The lights got replaced and my motorcycle received a new battery.
I was rewarded with fried food and a watered down soft drink for my endeavors. Which is better than no reward at all.
Lastly, while I was riding Bernadette to my part time job tonight, I made a deal with myself. It went like this “Skip, no matter what happens, no matter what is said, no matter how poorly you may be treated tonight, nothing and I mean NOTHING will top the comedy of errors and the level of frustration you experienced during the daylight hours. So put on a smile, laugh at the grim tidings of people who’ve had equally bad days and try to bring just a bit of joy into their lives.”
And you know what? It worked. During my shift, I was cheerful, I spoke with my coworkers, I chatted up my customers and I had a good night. Matter of fact, I’m still in a good mood. Which leads me to believe in the old adage “Attitude is everything.”
Have a great week.

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