How to lift one’s own spirits.

It’s been rather a frustrating week. It opened with a lot of work to do by Wednesday, which resulting stress was compounded by being slightly ill and not feeling very much in the working mood, and further augmented by worry about a possible problem with the exhaust system of my car (not to mention my lack of a paycheck this month, and the attendant financial concerns). By Wednesday, things were looking up: I was feeling better, my meeting with my advisor (the reason for the work-stress) was over, the car was in the shop, I had received my state tax return (finally!), and I was beginning to look forward to the weekend’s trip to Cincinnati for a wedding. But when it took the garage a day longer to look at my car than I’d hoped, and when they called this morning saying I might need to replace some parts (but they couldn’t really say, exactly), all the week’s frustration resurfaced, and I worried that I might not be able to either afford the repairs or make the trip as planned.
So I did laundry and bummed about the house and tried to pack, and tried to stomach the possibility of spending something like $300 on my car. It wasn’t the best day ever.
When the garage called this afternoon to tell me that my car was ready and that they hadn’t had to replace anything after all, my mood mildly improved, though I was still a bit worried; and then when I took the bus in to pick it up, there was construction at the stop I wanted, and I ended up getting dropped off five blocks from where I wanted to be. I cursed all the way to the garage, picked up my car, and drove home.
But the good news on the car front was that the mechanics had been able to unseat my stereo, something I’d wanted to have done for a while (and which I had been told on an earlier occasion they didn’t have to tools to do). Less than a month after I bought the car, the radio antenna had stopped going up and down, which meant that I effectively had no radio. I thought I knew how to fix it myself, but I wasn’t able to do it because when I had work done on it before moving to Madison my mechanics had (very courteously, I am sure) reseated the stereo, which until that point had been sticking out in such a way that one could remove it and fiddle with the wires behind the dash. (It had been my plan to fix a little problem with the antenna connection, but I was never able to do that. The antenna stopped working, and I couldn’t get at it.)
So when I parked the car by my house, I got a screwdriver, my 6.002 wire cutters, some needlenosed pliers, and some electrical tape and proceeded to look for the problem. I found it very quickly: it wasn’t the antenna fuse, as I had surmised (why anyone would put a fuse behind the stereo is beyond me, but there it is), it was the fact that the wire that controls the antenna up/down fucntion had come disconnected. (There was a speaker wire that had come disconnected as well.) I reconnected them, plugged the stereo back in, turned on the car, and tried the radio… It worked! The antenna went up, and I had reception for the first time in years.
I was elated. I fixed it, I did it myself, I knew how to do it, and I had all the tools on hand.
As I got out of the car, a fellow in a car waiting at the light called out to me. “Did you go to MIT?” he asked, pointing to the sticker on my rear windshield. “Yep!” I told him. “Me too,” he said. “I graduated in the eighties.” “2002,” I told him. We grinned, the light turned green, and he drove off.
Cincinnati, here we come!

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3 thoughts on “How to lift one’s own spirits.

  1. It all started with a rusty HandyAndy toolbox and REAL tools chosen to fit a child’s hands…and screws to the door of a smoking stand…and ample daily examples.

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