Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Idiot Lights.

As we gear up for Expat Assignment number 2, The Mister and I seem to find ourselves doing a lot of last-minute running around to see friends "one last time!" (even though these visits always seem to end with a promise of "don't worry, we'll make sure to get out here to see you one more time before we go!")  This is the bitter-sweet fun part of leaving on an assignment - we've got lots of fun things to talk about, and an excuse to make trips to see good friends, but we also don't really have a lot of time to share, and for many, even though we leave claiming we'll see them again before we ship out... I think everyone knows that it's unlikely.

On one recent trip, we were so rushed that morning to get out the door, and so rushed when we left our gathering a little late (we had to get The Mister back in time to get a good night's rest for a drill-weekend with the Navy), we really hadn't realized that we had used up a whole tank of gas until the idiot light dinged on.

How are you folks with the "idiot light?"  
Do you call it an "idiot light?"  
Tell me in the comments! 
Someone once told me they called it that because if you're stupid enough to let your gas get that low, particularly in winter, then you deserve more than to be called an idiot.  I just think it's a quirky fun name for the stupid thing.  Actually, now that I think about it, maybe it was The Mister who taught me that.  Hmm.

It wasn't until the Mister saw
my costume idea sketch
without any context that
I realized this might have
been a weird part of the
story to illustrate.
Back before meeting The Mister, as we all know, I was a school administrator, and so while I wasn't broke by any means, my salary wasn't the type of money flow which would lend me to cosplay Scrooge McDuck anytime soon (though how awesome would that costume be?  A top hat?  Sign me up).  And thus, it was a regular routine of mine to not fill up the gas in my car until that light came on.  I figured I had about 30 miles before it was truly empty after that light, and since most of my driving was in town, I was pretty safe.  What I'm really saying here is that I am lazy and used my pay scale as an excuse to not do a chore that would make me 5 minutes behind schedule for getting to the grocery store (what if someone got there ahead of me and bought all the Deluxe Tombstone Pizzas?!).

The Mister has a much, much different relationship with the idiot light.  I don't know what exactly his back-story is, but I know that he vehemently hates that light, and how dare someone treat their car with such poor respect to have it illuminate.  There were a few heated discussions at the beginning of our relationship on the subject. I conceded my apathetic point;  mostly because he's lovely enough to have put himself in charge of filling up the gas tanks when needed.

I didn't need to, but it's not like it was hard to find.
Everybody wins there, is what I'm saying... except when it's like -20 degrees out and he's filling up the gas at some random Mobil while I'm wandering around the convenience store oogling the lucky rabbit's feet and trucker hats with rude sayings that are part of the "gifts" section.  One day I will do a year's Christmas shopping in a gas station gift section.  It will be amazing.  You know you really always wanted the pink "real tree" camp keychain with "GURLZ RULE" written on it  in sparkly graffiti letters. Do I even need to look up a  picture of something like that?  You can picture it in your mind's eye.  I know you've seen something just like it at your local Shell.

Bah! Tangent!  But the point is we generally stop for gas somewhere around the quarter tank mark, and so on this particular trip when the light came on, we went from jamming out to the Frozen soundtrack to an instant level of silent panic and tension.  (I almost hate that Frozen's been in our car's CD player for almost 6 months on repeat, but then I duet to "Reindeers are Better Than People" with Mac and I forget my previous prejudices.)

Once we pulled up at the pump, we entered our usual routine of me getting out to mill around the tiny bottles of disgusting-smelling aftershave and ramen noodle varieties, while The Mister pumps gas.  Except I didn't make it to the store, because The Mister suggested that it was a good time to check the oil.

I don't know much of anything about cars.  I'm pretty sure we've covered that thoroughly before.  So while I realize this is super vapid of me, when he was all "Let's check the oil" I was all "yeah, you do that, I have day-old doughnut specials to check out."  Except then he was like "could you help me with that?"

Out of all other options of recourse to escape this task, I had to utter a phrase which I hate to utter: "I don't know how."

I don't say that in a "I like to pretend I know everything" sort of way, but more an "I don't like to admit that I'm dumber than the people around me" sort of way.

The Mister's lessons are a lot like the inner
workings of Allen's brain in the Casino.
I think it's partly The Mister's engineer brain.
There's a lot of information in there that
he just NEEDS to put out in the world, even if
a lot of it is tangental, and over my head.
Also, when I'm around The Mister, this is a phrase that is almost always followed by "Great!  I'll teach you!This makes me sounds like a super self-absorbed jerk.  And, guys, I get it.  I totally am a jerk in this instance.  Knowing this about myself doesn't always mean that it's something I'm working on fixing.  Sorry.
The Mister, when given the opportunity to share knowledge, gets REALLY EXCITED and is generally well-practiced at overwhelming me with information in the first 30 seconds of a lesson.  (One day I shall share the story of that one time The Mister tried to teach me how to shoot - you may note that I do not do guns as of yet.)  Pair that with my blissful ignorance status in all things car as the stereotypical girl who is more than happy to play a damsel in distress until someone comes along and fixes my car for me (I know, I know) and I wasn't like, jumping at the bit for this.

Plus, dearest husband, it is dark and cold and we just need to get home, couldn't a lesson wait for another time, like a time when you've had enough chance to completely forget you want to teach me how to check the oil?

"No, no, no, come on over here.  It'll just take a second."
And so, I was shown how to pull out the little stick thing, wipe it off, re-dip it (twice, because apparently the first time lies!), and interpret the little stick thing's readings.  Wouldn't you know, the oil was low.

"Okay."  Was my response.
"GREAT! Now I can teach you how to put oil in the car!" Was The Mister's.

NooOoOoOoooooo.  It's still late and still dark and still cold and I'm dressed nicely to see our friends and I still haven't gotten to see what kinds of seasonal tic tacs this convenience store has.  The Mister asked me what I would do if he wasn't around.  I insisted I would utilize my feminine wiles to convince some other wayward stranger to help me fix my car.  It was not deemed an acceptable response.

And so, I was shown how to determine which type of oil the car takes, and how to find those in the store, and how to select which of all the oils that fit said type is the best selection for our car.  They had assorted jerked meats at the counter that I was instantly amused by, and so I grabbed the correct bottle of oil and headed to the counter.
"Wait, how are you gonna put that in the car?"
" you're going to pour it in."
"What if I'm not around?"
"I stand by my previous feminine wiles statement.  Because I'm a survivor."
"Nope, you're going to use one of these handy paper funnels.  Come back and grab one."

And so (after a little help opening the pickle-jar-level-difficulty oil cap), I was instructed how to pour in the oil (double fun fact, 1. you don't have to shake the bottle of oil beforehand, and 2. it doesn't go down the same spout as the place where you pull out the little stick thing).  The cap was screwed back on, not quite as hard as last time, the hood was shut, and we clamored back into the nice, warm, now well-oiled car to continue our journey home.  Though I was cold, and without the amusement provided through perusing the selection of XXXL T-shirts featuring Bald Eagles wielding guns in their talons with the caption "'MURICA!," I was grateful for the experience.
I should have insisted we buy one as a commemorative souvenir
of that one time my husband made me check the oil.

"Husband?  Thank you for this boring, yet useful life lesson."

Are you lacking any conventionally common adult knowledge? 
How do you compensate for this?  
Feminine Wiles?  
Tell me in the comments!

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