Saturday, July 14, 2001
What a productive day - housecleaning, auto repair, horticultural bliss and the impending return of my family from Montreal and Quebec City.
Today included a trip to Pick Your Part, a local auto wreckers where you go into a great field of wrecked cars, try and locate a wreck with compatible parts (hopefully in working order) to what you need, and wrestle the said parts from the wreck. You then carry/drag the item to the exit where you pay according to some obscure formula of weight/size/condition of the item. The main building had a bright, family-oriented atmosphere, and it looks like they often cater to newbies to the wrecking scene like me. I walked into the main building (entrance and exit to the yard) and and was greeted with clear signage showing where to go to get tool boxes inspected and/or customer assistance. I walked up to a 16 year old clerk in overalls and automotive grease from fingertip to elbow and asked him how I could get a radio for a 1990 Ford Aerostar and how much it would cost.
"Radios are fifteen bucks, but they're hen's teeth, man. Out the door, second sign on your left."
I went through building, past the tool rental desk and consession stand (that looked amazingly clean considering it's clientelle) into the yard. I walked down a long (several hundred metres) center aisle, with rows on either side of vehicles (cars, trucks and vans) sorted by make. They were balanced on blocks, making all parts of the car (top, sides and bottom) easily accessible. Most of the cars had various doors, seats, and trim missing. I found the Ford section just where he said it would be and began to look for an Aerostar of my vintage. There were families there with young (down to preschool) kids wandering about, while dads (and sometimes moms) worked to extract their prize from a wreck. Everyone seemed quite happy to be there and getting the parts themselves. I know that I get a certain satisfaction from recycling, and really, that's what we were all doing there. We were also there to save money - a new radio of the same calibre as the one I was after would cost upwards of two hundred dollars.
The clerk/mechanic was right - all the Aerostars I found had the radios stripped out. I resorted to looking for any type of Ford that was the same vintage, assuming that Ford would want to make the radios of all Fords in the same year compatible, thereby reducing the number of types of different radios they'd have to have built. I was right - a 1989 Mercury Sable (Ford product) looked like it was a a recent addition to the yard. I checked and, sure enough, the radio was in tact and had all the features I wanted. I managed to get the radio out and examined the wiring harness on the back. It looked identical to what I had in the van, which meant I wouldn't have to splice wires - I could just plug it in and (theoretically) it would work.
Twenty minutes and sixteen dollars and change later, I have a new radio that I easily installed myself. It even has a 90 day warranty. I'm sooooo pleased with myself.
I had the strangest feeling as I prepared to mow the lawn. I went into the shed in the back yard, pulled out the lawn mower (careful not to knock over my trusty mountain bike), grabbed a garbage bag for grass clippings (almost a fresh box of 'em in the shed) and the spiffy stand that holds the bag open for me and the gas can. As I was filling the lawn mower with gas, I realized that I had everything in front of me and in working order that I needed to do the task at hand. From there, I did a mental search for items on my "need to have" list and came up completely dry.
I've got everything I need. Even the list of "things I want" is growing thin. Oh no - what am I going to do for the next fifty years?
I haven't got my pedals on my bike, but that *should* happen tomorrow.
Time to go pick up the family from the airport!