I admit I've never changed my own oil or a flat tire though. Some things are better left to the boys to get dirty with, or the experts that have all the right tools to keep an easy 10-minute job from being a 5-hour headache. However, I'm not one of those girls that's completely helpless in the garage either. I own REAL tools. They are not pink or sparkly - they are SnapOn silver, Dewalt yellow, Home Depot orange, Makita blue, or Ryobi green with black dirt accents. (And none of them are diminutive! ;) I've replaced my own headlights, battery, wipers, and tail lights in the past. I've installed iPod adapters (which required taking apart the dash to get to the back of the stereo head unit) in both the Camaro and the Jeep all by myself. Once I even changed my own idle air control (IAC) valve after a brilliant mechanic broke it (and zip-tied it as a fix! WTF?!), then wanted to charge me $183 for a replacement! I did it myself for less than $70. Go me!
Obviously, I am not afraid or ignorant of my vehicles.
So I found myself at the local auto parts store the other day. It happened to be a day when I chose to wear nicer clothes because the boyfriend was with me and I like to look my best when we present ourselves together in public. We are each other's arm candy. :) My outfit that day included a beautiful cotton sweater, designer jeans, high heeled boots, appropriate jewelry, and my expensive (not!) sunglasses (THOSE have sparkles on the sides!) pushed to the top of my head. My flashiest name-brand purse (under $100 people, so hush up) hung from my shoulder. To be fair, I suppose this look does give off a certain impression, especially to men found under a car more often than in it.
Looks can be so deceiving tho, can't they? This is why I don't judge books by their cover (except for the new teen novel Tiger's Curse by Colleen Houck - I totally bought that solely because the cover was cool and it turned out to be an awesome story! SCORE! Her next book, Tiger's Quest, is coming out in June. Preorder now!).
I was looking for the lightbulb that goes over the license plate, assumably so my next victim of Texting While Driving can see who ran them over in the dark and report me to the police.
(Ok, not completely.)
Having never replaced this particular bulb before, and knowing there are usually several to choose from, I walked up to the register to ask the I-Just-Graduated-College-And-This-Is-My-Chosen-Career clerk to retrieve the correct part number.
"Hello, I need the lightbulb that goes over the license plate of my 2005 Jeep Liberty."
"Lightbulbs are in Aisle 5."
"Thank you, but do you mind looking up the number for me? It's much faster than going through the book." (You'd think the fact that I KNOW there is a number - or a book over there to look in for that matter - would be his first clue, but it went right over his head.)
"Oh sure… you said it's an Oh Five Jeep Liberty?"
Not that he looked up to confirm.
(Tap tap tap.) "Okaaaayy… number 168…"
"Thank you." I turned to walk away.
A dirty, plump finger shoots out rather close to my ear. "It's down Aisle 5 there… on the right… here, I'll just get it for you."
I'm sorry, did the back of my head look confused? Even tho I'm already walking in the proper direction, Mr. Helpful whips past me like Dale Earnhardt Junior at Talladega.
"Thanks but really, I can find… umm, ok," I say pointlessly into the backdraft. Thanks for providing great customer service?
The clerk was already scanning the rows so I had no choice but to shut up and follow him. I'm sure he's looked at these things many times more than I, so a nanosecond after I arrive he dives for the correct item and starts heading back to the register. Again, I follow. About halfway there he turns around, shakes the package in my direction, and says as if speaking to a child:
"Now make sure you tell whoever is installing this not to touch the bulb…"
Wait... what? Whoever is installing this? What am I? Chopped liver? Why would the person installing it not be me, the same one asking for the part?
The boyfriend comes up behind me just then, at which point I apparently disappear in a chauvinistic puff of smoke. Relieved there is a penis in the vicinity, Mr. Helpful redirects his comment to my appropriately-gendered partner: "Hey, make sure you use a rag to hold the bulb when you put this in…"
Make sure you use a rag to hold what's left of your ego, pal, cuz mine is rearing up to its entire righteous five-foot-three height.
"I will be the one installing this, thank you," I say as I take the package from his outstretched hand. "And I know not to touch the bulbs because they are halogen and the oils on your fingers will ruin them," I add as I stalk to the register with an unladylike semi-snort of laughter while the two men stand there looking at each other, one with embarrassment and the other with a smirk.
Hello Auto Zone? The 50s called… they'd like their counter boy back.
"Ummm…" Mr. Helpful says, gesturing toward Automotive Genius No. 2, "… he'll ring you up." He wouldn't even look at me as he slunk behind the checkout and disappeared between the stacks of thingamabobs* and whoseywhatsits. I notice the other cashiers trying not to crack up. Whether it's at me or him I have no idea since my nose is so far up in the air at this point, I would drown if it started to rain.
So what have we learned today, kids?
For those of you who are curious, as I was, having never taken the time (until now) to actually find out WHY you shouldn't touch halogen bulbs, The Straight Dope (fighting ignorance since 1973!) has the answer here. If you don't have time to read all the technical explanations offered, the short version is "because it's baaad...m'kay?" Ok, not really. :) It's because your oily fingerprints leave enough residue to impede the infrared component of a halogen's light spectrum from exiting the glass, thereby collecting heat and creating a weak spot, which eventually can cause the glass to explode from stress (much like the heads of chauvinistic males when coming into contact with my ego), shortening the life of the bulb. (In which case I'd say the lifespan of the bulb is the least of your problems.)
Whew... good thing Mr. Helpful mentioned that rag! I thought they were only for dusting!
Ladies (and gentlemen), you now know how to completely disassemble a snarky cashier the next time they condescend to you about halogens. Word.
Happy Jeep having a day at the spa. :)
*You know how I know Macs are the smarter machines? Because they know how to spell thingamabobs!