February 27, 2002 Winter Wonderland
Wednesday February 27, 2002 02:37:54 PM

The night before last, Monday night, it snowed here. We got about 2 inches.

I vaguely remembered that the van needed to have it's windshield washer fluid tank refilled, but yesterday morning, I was reminded in a concrete manner that the tank was empty. Those of you familiar with driving in snow, especially the morning after a signifigant precipitation understand why it is important to have plenty of washer fluid in these circumstances.

When my buddy, Ed, said he'd probly be going by a gas station when he went out for lunch, I gave him some money and asked him to get me a bottle of windshield washer fluid. He complied, and although, he picked the wrong station and paid an outrageous price, I was satisfied.

I sure didn't want my windshield crusted over with dirt and salt in the dark.

I was in for a surprise, though, when after work I filled the tank with the expensive blue juice and hit the washer switch.

I expected it to take little while to get the pump primed and the flow to begin, but it seemed to be taking much longer than it should, so I opened the hood again and, after a methodical examination learned that the hose brining the fluid from the pump to the spray nozzle on the windshield wiper arm was leaking.

Acutally, it was leaking where the hose that ran down the wiper arm was joined to the hose that came from the pump by a small plastic coupler.

"So," you say, "No big deal. Cut off a little of the hose and stick the fresh, uncracked part on the coupler, or at worst, get a new coupler at the parts store, right?"

"Well," I say, "I wish."

Fortunatley, unnoticed by me, the days have been getting longer and I was able to drive all the way home in sunlight. In fact there was enough sunlight left for me, I thought, to fix the hose- which should only take about 10 minutes, anyway, right?

Perhaps so on any sanely designed vehicle, but you must remember I am describing an early 90s General Motors minivan. Anyone who has worked on any vehicle from this time period understands exactly what I'm talking about, I'm sure. Automobiles from this time period especially GM/Cheverolet automobiles exhibit a kind of design and construction that seems intentionally purposed to earn the home mechanic an invitation to the Grand Ball held at the special state facility where everybody wears those funny white dinner jackets with extra long sleeves and where all the walls are padded.

The leaky hose coupler is easy to see, but in order to get it out to actually work on it, the black, vented plastic trim piece, through which the windshield wiper arms protrude, must be removed and of course, this trim piece is held onto the van with that scourge of all home mechanics, Torx screws. Luckily, the one Torx socket I have (the one I necessary to change the headlights) fit the screws that hold the trim piece to the van.

Did I mention it was cold? It was cold, probly 20° F, and since the screws were between the deep vent ridges, there was no way around taking my gloves off to remove them once they were loosened so my fingers were freezing. I had removed a full ½ dozen of these stupid Torx screws (on the drivers's side only- it seems like there are more screws in this lousy piece of plastic than hold the wings on the space shuttle) before I lost one. At that point though, I didn't even care- it was just one I wouldn't have to re-install.

It was at this precise point that I discovered all my efforts were in vain. I wondered why, when I had removed all the screws, the drivers's side half of the trim piece wasn't loose enough to carefully bend up to gain just enough access to the hose to re-seal it. A closer look revealed the one forgotten screw. That one, last, cursed forgotten screw. The one screw sunk so deep between the stupid vent ridges that my little Torx socket was too wide to fit between, that I could not loosen it. So all my Fury, frustration, and last but but not least freezing was for naught.

And on top of all that when I slammed the hood down in disgust the plastic Chevrolet +/cross insignia thing in the middle of the grille fell off.


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