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Eugene Weekly : Living Out : 3.10.11




Lights Out

Technology leads to grave robbing

by Sally Sheklow

My domestic partner isnt cheating, but she is, shall we say, involved. A tempting opportunity arose and she took it.

She got an iPhone.

Im jealous. Its with her constantly, she cant keep her hands off of it, and she consults it for things she used to ask of me ã Where did we get that great guacamole? Whens the first night of Passover? Whats a four-letter word for single?

The other day my car•s brake lights wouldnt turn off. Wifey consulted her iPhone. In an instant she was reading posts from people with the same problem. A dime-sized blue stopper keeps the brake pedal mechanism from pressing the brake light switch. When that stopper falls out, the lights stay on. Quoth the iPhone.

I searched around and whaddaya know, a blue rubber tiddly-wink lay broken on the floormat. The iPhone was right.

Replace this little gizmo and Id be set. Wifey took iPhone into the house, the two of them having completed their contribution.

The woman at the dealership counter printed out a schematic showing the part. She couldnt get it until Tuesday. My car battery would be dead by Tuesday.

"Try the wrecking yard,” Partswoman suggested.

I drove to B&R Auto Wrecking and parked, brake lights aglow. A burly clerk looked at my schematic and gave me a list of cars of my year, make, and model. He also handed me a neon-green safety vest, required out on the lot (Ooh la la!).

Rack after rack of palletted engines lined a gravel path to the massive car cemetery, grave robbing encouraged. I tromped through acres of mangled car carcasses, already picked clean of steering wheels, seats, dashboards, whatever was needed. Finally I found my donor car.

I wedged past a crumpled fender and pulled open the door. This wreck, like all the others, was on risers, allowing easy access. Sure enough, up behind the dash was a little blue stopper. Just like iPhone said.

I pressed the brake pedal to open the gap, pulled the part, and trotted back to the office. I showed Burlyman my find.

"No charge,” he said, hanging my green vest back on the hook (sigh).

I thanked him and returned to my car, its brake lights still shining. To install the replacement part I had to sit on the asphalt and arch backwards over the threshold to reach into the magic spot. I was on my back, half of me sticking out, while I pressed the pedal, aimed my flashlight and maneuvered the part into place. Burlyman and his co-worker were probably enjoying the show on their security cameras, but too bad. I scooched in further and wrangled that rubber jobbie until at last . . . YESSS!

I slithered out, straightened my back, and dusted off my butt.

Behind my car a magnificent sight ã brake lights off. Cue Rocky theme, shoot fists into air, do end zone dance.

I drove home, parked, and took one more look ã yep, lights off. I gave my customary call, "Hi honey, Im homo!”

"Any luck?” Wifey asked, iPhone in hand.

I grinned, just a tad smug.

Wifey embraced me and said she was impressed and proud.

Theres no app for that.

Award-winning writer Sally Sheklow has been tackling tough problems in Eugene since 1972.