Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Me and Ken

I am tooling down the road after dropping the kids off at school when I heard my car do that little "ding!" to tell me something was amiss.

I looked down at my dashboard and saw the little symbol for window washer fluid was lit up telling me it was empty.

This is a big deal for me.

I am forever cleaning my front and back windows. Since I had a little time, I decided to run to Advance Auto up the street and buy some washer fluid.

While I was still at the store, I popped the hood, flipped up the yellow cap on the right side of the engine and poured the fluid in. It took the whole gallon.

Once done, I noticed that the new battery that had been installed by Advance Auto two weeks prior already had corrosion on one of the terminals. So I left my hood open and went back inside to ask someone to take a look.

Thankfully, Ken, the man who had installed the battery in the first place was there. Noting the corrosion, he went to get his cleaning supplies and battery grease and would be right back.

It was about this time that I looked back at my engine and noticed that there were a couple of yellow capped receptacles in there. Upon closer inspection, I realized that one of the yellow caps on the left side of the engine had a little symbol for window washer fluid. It even said "washer fluid."

Oh crap.

If that yellow cap on the left went to the window washer, what in the heck did the one that I filled up to the tippity-top with washer fluid go to??

It had a symbol on it with some wavy lines but Lord if I knew what that meant!

When Ken returned I was a bit frantic.

"Um, Ken," I said. "I think I have just made a huge mistake! I just poured that entire bottle of washer fluid into this thing and I just now see that it was the wrong thing! Oh, no, oh, no, Scott is NOT gonna like this. Oh, my, what did I do? What does this one go to? Do you know? Oh crap!"

Ken was cool as a cucumber.

"Well, now, that there is not your washer fluid tank but is actually your radiator overflow tank. Did you pour the whole thing in there?"

"Yes, I did! The whole thing! Holy crap, what have I done? The radiator?! Oh crap. Oh crap!"

I was imagining Scott's reaction when I told him I needed a new radiator in a 3 year old van. I was starting to panic.

Ken was calm and sublime.

"Now, now, ma'am. You have not started the car yet, have you? No? Great. So you are ok. Really, it's ok. Let me just see here. So here's what we are going to do. We are gonna go back inside and you'll buy a hand siphon and we'll pump all that out of your overflow tank and then add a little water to neutralize whatever is left in there and then you will be just fine. No harm done, I promise. This will be our little secret and your husband will never know."

Little did Ken know that I am famous for telling on myself, especially to Scott, and I do not hesitate to share my most embarrassing moments with just about anyone (um, hello - this blog!)

But God bless Ken. I was so impressed with his calm and reassuring demeanor.

Then he told me he grew up in Illinois on a 5,000 acre farm with 7,500 head of cattle.

I knew then that I was truly in the best of hands.

Friends, there is no one better in the world to have with you in this kind of situation than someone who grew up on a farm. Farmers can fix anything.

Seriously. All they need is duct tape and bailing wire.

And in this case, a hand siphon.

Add to his upbringing on a cattle farm, Ken is a Vietnam veteran who spent the 10 subsequent years as an Air Force rough terrain recon trainer (we had a lot of time to chat while we were slowly siphoning the fluid by hand.)

No wonder he was so calm. My little mistake was like a flea on the hind end of a donkey compared to what this man had done, seen and accomplished in his life.

Together, Ken and I siphoned almost all the fluid out of the overflow tank (into the now empty washer fluid bottle). And I, of course, bought another gallon of washer fluid and poured it into the correct tank.

Then Ken went on to tend to the battery.

"See this here?" he said. "Your battery cables are all corroded too so let's clean those off and I will seal and grease everything up for you."

I love Ken. He helped me avert an auto-catastrophe caused by my own stupidity. And he cleaned and greased the battery too.

"Ken, you are a real life saver. What do I owe you for all your work here?"

"Not a thing, ma'am. Just come back and see me, ok?"

You can count on that, Ken.

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