Lockdown: She’s not bad; she’s just maintained that way

the small white squares littered about the car are the peel-off wax paper for the double-sticky squares

It’s weird what a to-do list will do for your sense of accomplishment and purpose in life, even if you don’t actually jot it down. When my life was a lot busier, as a teacher and before that as a student, my daily list always began with “write this list,” so I could complete the list, then immediately scratch off the first item. There’s something about ticking boxes.

I’ve been down about my car. It’s showing old-car symptoms, which of course isn’t a surprise. It’s fourteen years old, and while it was taken very good care of by the guy who had it before me, there are things not meant to last much longer than this on even a well-cared-for vehicle.

There are other things, though. An old college friend pulled a very cool prank on me, November last year, sneaking into our parking garage at work while I was in the office, and sticking about a hundred shiny round takeout container lids all over. He used small double-adhesive squares for almost the whole job, which were a pain to take off but came off easily. However, he also used this double-sticky adhesive black foam rubber that did not come off easily.

It was a great prank, and very well executed. The hassle of getting it all off the car, I swear, was just an inconvenience and I harbor absolutely no ill feelings. A good prank is worth it, whether you’re on the receiving or giving end. And goodness knows I’ve been on the giving end enough to deserve more than I got here.

Adhesive stuff isn’t a problem. You just need something that gets that stuff off. My go-to is rubber cement thinner. For getting price-tags (and similar) off stuff, it’s practically undefeated. I have a one-quart tin of it somewhere. Rather than look for it, I just went to Long’s and got a spray-bottle of a product called Goo Gone. Recommended by a friend’s BF, who owns a towing business on another island.

I picked that up in January or February but never put it to use.

There’s that. And I can’t drive my car through a car wash because it leaks from the roof in heavy rain. And I park it on the street, beneath a tree that drops all kinds of garbage on it, as do the tree’s sometime occupants. So it needs to be actively cleaned once in a while, but the car doesn’t even get gas more than once every three weeks, so I seldom think about it now that we’re in lockdown.

It needs an oil change. It needs to go to an authorized service provider for an airbag recall. It needs body work. It’s going to need a transmission pretty soon. I want to have the tires and brakes checked. The safety inspection was due in February, but I need to get a new sideview mirror and a new headlight. I know she’s running a little hot, and lately the steering’s been bad. Very simple stuff (except the body work and the tranny) but it’s piled up and it’s been a downer.

Engine still runs like a very noisy dream, though.

I got up Saturday morning at around ten with several tasks in mind, and with the afternoon reserved for the car. But first: Taco Bell for breakfast. Geez it’s good.

During the trip, I dropped stuff in the drop-box at the post office and picked up a money order at 7-Eleven for the rent. Errands, baby.

Ate breakfast while reading the news and doing some crosswords. I even tidied up my desk area a little.

Then I checked under the hood for the usual stuff. Jessica needed steering fluid — it was very low — and coolant. Everything else looked good, but she needs an oil change. I cleaned up a gross amount of compost that accumulated in that space atop the firewall but under the hood, and filled the window washer reservoir.

Then I got to work with that bottle of Goo Gone. It did the job but it required a bit of elbow work, and two passes with the spray bottle. First to loosen up the foam rubber part so I could scrape it off with my thumbnail, then to loosen up the adhesive so I could rub it out with a rag. It was messy and tedious, but it worked. I didn’t quite finish the job, leaving one section on the passenger side to finish Sunday. The sun was going down and I was getting hungry and I needed to wash up and then order coolant and steering fluid for pickup from the auto parts store.

I ordered the stuff and paid online, less than twenty bucks, and waited for my pick-up email, which hadn’t come even two hours later. Ugh. I was getting hungry, and some kind of takeout was the dinner plan when I got the stuff. I called the store; they had no record of my order, and now the stupid website wasn’t loading, so I think there was a system problem. I drove to the store, grabbed the stuff off the shelf, paid, filled up the steering fluid right in the parking lot, and hit the drive-through at Popeye’s. Um. And then the drive-through at BK.

The stupid steering fluid made an immediate difference. I mean, it’s a relief that the fix was so easy, but it’s weird that such a little fix makes such a bit difference the very second you start the car.

I got the chicken sandwich meal from Popeye’s, and was going to get a small order of wings but the wait time was ten minutes and I just didn’t have that in me, so I went through the neighboring BK drive-through and got two more chicken sandwiches, way more food than I wanted, but there was a deal.

The Popeye’s sandwhich, for a takeout fried chicken sandwich, is very good. Meaty and flavorful. I didn’t care for the bun at all, but whatever. I don’t think I ever had Popeye’s fries, but they were pretty good. I only ate a few and put the rest in the fridge. I ate one of the BK sandwiches and put the other in the fridge. It’s no contest: the Popeye’s sandwich is superior by miles. They could both use a few slices of tomato, though.

By the time I sat down to write at nine, I was feeling pretty productive. The only two things I regretted not getting to were mailing the rent (I needed stamps, which I picked up on my way home from the drive-through) and taking a nap. That last one, though. Ugh.

I did the speed-writing again for the new blog content and it worked again. I’ve found that when I have less to say about something, it’s probably better not to stress it, and simply say less. I think it’s okay. And when I have more, I’ll just say more.

Ali and I texted a lot, starting off with interesting conversation about Kim and Kanye’s bathroom sink, but then talking about Christmas trees and a few other things. It was nice. There was a bit of group texting with Grace, Penny, and Reid about a Zoom hangout. I said I’d join if I wasn’t doing something while they met, but I was: I was taking care of business at the auto parts store. They finished right when I got back to my desk with dinner.

I think that was it. I have a few to-dos for Sunday but I’m not going to stress about them much. The feel-good from Saturday will coast me into the new work week, I’m pretty sure.

Leave a comment if you want someone to connect with. I’ll send contact info and we can keep each other company through the to-dos and to-don’ts as the holidays leap upon us.

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