Monday, March 5, 2012

When I Was a Rookie Mechanic

Mom’s Galaxie 500 was the first car we ever had that had power windows.  Since it was a two door - the windows were huge.  As with any technology it doesn’t always work the way it is intended.  It breaks at unappreciated moments.  It is usually costly to repair.

The power windows functioned correctly for quite some time.  Then we noticed them starting to slip.  They would jump the tracks.  We figured out that someone needed to put their hand on the glass while lowering or raising the window.  This helped keep the glass in the track.  This method of compensating worked until someone forgot.

The window slipped off its track.  This time we heard the muffled explosion as glass shattered inside the door.  The window was no more.

I checked on what it would cost to replace it.  I don’t remember the exact amount, only the shock of the
sticker price.  It was more than we could afford.  I improvised and had some plexi-glass cut.  You couldn’t move the window though.  Because it was imperfect there were huge gaps where the elements came in.  We got by.

Then it happened again. The second window shattered.   There must have been a million pieces.  Some shards fell out as we raised the window lever.  Winter was cold that year and driving with natural air conditioning was rather frigid.

Spring came and I was determined to have real windows.  I went to see our mechanic Mr C.  He told me what replacing the two windows would cost.  He broke down 
the cost of the glass and the labor.  I believe the glass cost something like $75.00 per window and about the same cost for the labor.  A great deal to me at the time.

I figured I could do one window now and the other one later.  But I just didn’t have enough to do them both.  Mr C.  was a patient man.  And I think he saw the potential for a little entertainment.

“Well, if you pay for the glass you could always do the labor yourself.”

“I don’t know how to replace a car window.”

“Yah, there is that.  I guess I could give you a few pointers.”

“Oh that would be great!”

Then he reeled me in slow and smooth.

“You could even come to the shop and I’d let you use the tools.”

“Oh, Thank you Mr. C!.”

The windows were ordered and I paid for the first one.  I worked around my schedule and made an appointment with Mr. C.  He helped me take off the door and clean out the glass.  By the time I got that done it was time to go. I put the door panel back on. I had some screws and parts left over.

“Ruth when do you think you’ll be back?”

I told him.  The next time I was there a buddy of Mr C.  was visiting with him.  I got started taking the door apart.  When I got that done I then started on the next phase.  I needed help lifting the glass into the tracks.  Mr C was very obliging.  Then I put the door back together. (This took several days.)

He asked me when I wanted to work on the next window.  I again set a time and date.  This time when I came to the shop there were 2 buddies shooting the breeze.  I didn’t think much about it.  Just got to work.  Since I was a beginner it took me several days to complete the project.  Each day though found Mr C had a larger group of buddies in the shop.

It wasn’t until years later that I figured out that it was a slow period and I provided welcome entertainment for them.  I’m sure that it was quite amusing to watch me try and figure out how to replace the glass.  I’m sure that there was lots of good natured laughing when they recalled the episode of -  when I was a Rookie Mechanic.


  1. This is a wonderful "I can do it" story. I am impressed.

  2. I was so distracted by my own personal connections because I used to have to do this to! and yes one day I forgot. I was not as resourceful as you were though. : )

  3. This also shows what kind of person you are Ruth-willing to learn how to do anything, which is terrific. But the story is amusing. I guess you provided welcome entertainment for hours! Men just don't know how powerful women can be! Thanks!

  4. Oh, I was hoping for another car story! I had to laugh about the natural winter air conditioning (a friend of mine had the same thing going on years ago, due to a gaping hole in the floorboard). The one thing that comes across in all your stories, though is that the community you lived in were full of NICE people - must have been very far away from New Jersey!

  5. You have the best car stories--I have a friend you should meet. She learned about cars the same way you did--trial and error and doing things herself. I liked the ending by the way--the last sentence was classic

  6. I'm impressed that you took on the task and even more impressed that you pulled off the job! Yes, I'm sure the "real" mechanics had a chuckle, but you got the job done. That's way cool. I don't think I could do anything close to the same. Brava!

  7. I applaud your willingness to step out on a limb and learn how to fix your car window yourself. That is impressive! I also wanted to thank you for commenting on my slice called "The Man In the Picture". It was very helpful for you to put the link and the real name on that post. Thank you so much.


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