The mechanical objects in my life have plotted against me.
After we got back from vacation, I went to start-up the Honda Element and found that it was dead. Hmmm, maybe I left a door open or interior light on? I charged the battery and drove around a bit, but it was dead again the next day. To figure out what was going on, I broke out my little friend, the multimeter:
I tested the alternator and it was fine. The voltage on the battery was OK, but that isn’t the only test. I strongly suspected that the battery was the issue since it wouldn’t hold a charge.
In a monumentally severe lapse of judgement, I had purchased the battery at Walmart. Dealing with the automotive department at my local Walmart is an exercise in futility and pain. The employees communicate with grunts and glares. And they are all angry. Very angry. A root canal would be more fun and faster.
Scott the auto technician (and I use technician in the loosest of terms) told me he had to verify that the battery was dead. I would have to leave it at the shop and he would test it. No problem.
Thirty minutes later, the phone rang:
- Me: Hello.
- Walmart: Scott from Walmart. *grunt*
- Me: Hi!
- Me: OK? Anyone there?
- Walmart: Tested your battery.
<more silence followed by a grunt>
- Me: Ummmmm, OK? What’s the verdict.
- Walmart: Dead.
- Me: OK? What now?
- Walmart: Come back in.
- Me: And then what?
- Walmart: Warranty it out.
- Me: What does that mean? Do I get a refund?
- Walmart: New battery.
I went back to Walmart to find that the service counter was as empty as my head after a couple of strong beers on an empty stomach. I finally spied my verbally challenged friend Scott who was putting bottles of car wash on the shelf. He and I locked eyes. So normally, this would be a cue for Scott to come over and help the waiting customer that he had spoken with not more than an hour ago. Nope. Scott went right on putting crap on the shelf.
I could go on and describe the next 30 minutes of this ordeal, but I don’t want to bore you death. The Honda Element is now back in business and I’ll do my best to never set foot in awful Walmart again.
Bottom Bracket Bane
I was out on a bike ride and my bottom bracket started making a horrendous noise. For those of you not familiar with bike parts. the bottom bracket is this:
I was frustrated. My butt and gut have grown large. I need exercise, but had no choice but to turn around and head home. I retrieved my bike toolkit and fired up YouTube. It was at this time that I learned there about 584 different types of bottom brackets and each requires a different tool. This must be a plot devised by the tool manufacturers. I didn’t have the tool for mine, so headed off to the local bike shop to buy one.
The bike shop was sold out of the tool, but the tech offered to disassemble the bottom bracket with their own (it took him a while to find the right one). He would then order a new bottom bracket assembly and I could then put it back together myself. Great! Until it wasn’t.
The bottom bracket wouldn’t budge. After 12 years, the cup nut holding it together had become one with the threads of the frame. The bike tech called another tech in to assist. That tech then called in another tech. An hour later, the nut gave up the fight and came loose. I was relieved, but what a pain in the ass.
But Wait, There’s More!
I took a shower (after working on the dead battery issue) and it wouldn’t drain.
Then, the bottom bracket on my eBike started creaking. What is it with damn bottom brackets?
I disassembled the drain and cleared the clog.
I tightened the bottom bracket and the noise stopped.
And I’m Thankful
The gift of Financial Independence is time. Others FI enthusiasts frequently write about seeing movies in the middle of the day, taking naps or reading. But the time is also a buffer for when you have to spend hours in hell (Walmart). If I didn’t have this buffer, I’d be spending my nights and weekends dealing with this nonsense instead of enjoying my family.
While I had to deal with the Walmart service department and a feisty bottom bracket, I also acquired new skills. I now know how to test an alternator with a multimeter. I also know how to disassemble my road bike’s bottom bracket. I’ll throw these skills on the pile of stuff in the back of my brain. Next time one of these things break, I’ll know how to deal with it.
And I fully acknowledge that my issues are trivial and first world problems. The true value of the buffer will be realized when a real problem presents itself. Maybe a loved one will get sick or a friend will have an emergency and need my time. I’m so thankful that I have this buffer.
And bottom brackets of the world; don’t mess with me.
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