Tuesday, July 7, 2009

A Bright Future

A young man pulled up next to my car at a stop light yesterday afternoon and motioned for me to lower my window. “Your left back brake light is out,” he informed me. I waved my thanks to him, and then he was gone.

Still basking in the glow of fixing my bathroom sink I decided I could replace the brake light as well. That’s when I pulled into an O’Reilly Auto Parts store. I got way more than I bargained for when I went in. First the clerk found the right bulb (two to a pack). Next he walked outside with me to show me where to unscrew the back light cover. As I was paying for the bulbs I mentioned that I wanted to take a car repair course (which I do). “You don’t have to be a mechanic to work here,” he said.

And then he handed me an application. “That’s the store manager over there,” he continued. “Talk to him, and then you can work here with me.”

I left the shop in a giddy mood, knowing that my future was definitely going to get brighter. I pondered my new life as a part time employee of an auto parts shop. I liked the way it felt.

Early this morning I set out to replace the defunct light bulb. When I saw my neighbor Sandra pull into her driveway, I ran down to get her. (Without a second person, how do you know if your brake light is working?) First, Sandra confirmed that the old light was burned out. Then she waited for me to replace the bulb so she could confirm that the new one worked.

Sandra waited. And she waited while I tried to remove the old bulb. I twisted, turned and pulled. The bulb wouldn’t budge. I asked Sandra to come back after I had finished so she wouldn’t have to stand in the hot July sun. That’s when she uttered the magic words: “Why don’t you check the owner’s manual?”

I got so excited by this novel concept that I jumped up and down. “What a brilliant woman you are,” I exclaimed to Sandra. “Brilliant.” It didn’t seem like such a brilliant thing to Sandra. I imagine that it didn’t seem that brilliant to 98.9 % of the rest of the people I know. But it was a grand epiphany to me.

Within seconds I had replaced the bulb, according to the directions in the owner’s manual. That’s when I asked my neighborhood genius to pose for this picture. O.J. the neighborhood cat got in on the action as well. We tried out the new light, and it worked like a charm. I quickly replaced the light cover with everything working.

Now I’m taking a second look at that job application. I think I would make a very good clerk in an auto parts store. I have empathy, sympathy and great customer service. And I can change a brake light!


  1. And you are someone other car repair novices could relate to when they come in flustered about what to do for a dark brake light. You would be getting paid for helping others. You might want to go to school for this career. Luckily, my book on Automotive Technicians is now listed on the publisher's website. If I ever get author copies, I'll give you one.

    Straight From Hel

  2. Love those magic words! Congrats on the light and the bathroom sink.

  3. LOL. Loved this post. I was going to try to replace a headlight once and asked the clerk to just show me how to access the bulb from inside the engine -- the manual didn't tell me that part. Good thing I asked, because he had a heck of a time getting the old bulb out -- it was not easy access -- and I know I never would have managed that one on my own.

    So, are you now working at the store?