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I am not an idiot, but…

Yesterday I returned home to Detroit from a business trip out west. I returned to Michigan to find ice and snow had glued my windshield wipers to the windshield. As I scraped the ice off one of the wipers ripped. No problem since they were wearing out and I had the new ones in the trunk. This is where my “I am not an idiot” story starts.

It was cold but sunny yesterday so I decided to drive home and not worry about the wiper. I figured it would be easier to change the wiper in the garage than in the middle of the airport parking lot. No problem getting home, but I wanted to catch up on email, and one thing led to another and I forgot about the wiper until this morning. So I look at the wipers and try to figure out how to remove them. It was not obvious so I cracked the user manual. The index and table of contents were very helpful, but this is where it ended. I turn to the page to change wiper blades. Step one is to turn your key to the accessory setting. Step two is to turn on the wipers. Step three is turn the key to the off position when the wipers are up in the middle of the windshield.

Sounds easy, right. No. Every time I did this the wipers parked themselves down at the bottom of the windshield. I am not an idiot, but..

So I tried again and again. Each time worrying the metal of the ripped wiper blade would scratch the windshield. What engineer thought this was a good idea? You need to turn them on to change them? Stoopid. Plain stoopid.

I decided to take it to the dealer and let them explain to me how you change a wiper blade. The service person was nice, but her face was revealing her thoughts something to the effect: “Another male idiot who can’t simply change his wiper blades. I bet he has an I.Q similar to the rock he crawled out from under this morning…”

I mentioned that I followed the instructions in the owner manual and the blades would not stop in the middle. She told me the owners manual is “useless, and should not be followed.” I agreed with her, but it was the only thing I had to go on because the user interface to change them was not intuitive. I revealed to her that I am a software developer to hopefully get her to think my I.Q. level was higher than the rock I crawled out from underneath this morning {g}. I believe this did not affect her perception of me one bit.

She offered to educate me on the finer points of wiper replacement and then failed miserably. The words out of her mouth as she battled the steps to not reproduce the problem made me want to laugh, but I figured this would only worsen the situation. Long story shorter, it took a couple of mechanics to wrestle with this and finally get the blades replaced. Sadly, they did not teach me how to do it, but it does not matter since my lease is up in a few months and I will get two new blades with my new car.

So the lessons learned are simple:

  1. Update the manual with the reality of changing the wipers to include a free visit to the professionals at your local dealership because our engineers are not bright enough to make it easy. In fact, just include one piece of paper instead of the book, the one page could be a list of dealers in your area. This would be a huge time saver for all of us.
  2. Reengineer the problem so end users can perform the simple task and not waste the professionals time and save money for the car company. This does not have to be hard by design.
  3. Improve the help interface for cars. I suggest voice activated link back to the central office call center. Any time the car senses you are swearing or cursing at it the call should be placed. OnStar, are you listening to me? This would actually make it worth the US$17 I pay you bozos every month.

Did I mention I hate hardware and cars?

2 Responses to “I am not an idiot, but…”

  1. January 17th, 2007 at 17:19 | #1

    I like that…need new wiper blades? Buy a new car!

    Kind of like the full ashtray bit and all that.

    But I feel your pain…my daughter had the same problem with her car – only her boyfriend attempted to fix them himself and ended up bending the blades so that they were really messed up – all in time for the first snowstorm of the season!

  2. January 20th, 2007 at 00:17 | #2

    Not a blade replacement problem, but…

    Last Wednesday, I was driving over to a site job 60 miles away on a beautiful sunny day. 5 miles into the trip, the rear wiper started going all by itself. I tried all of the switches thinking I could just fool it into thinking it should be cycled off. Wrong.

    I got over to the site where I had to drive a long way through the middle of a town. I bet the residents there thought I was one goofy SOB leaving my rear wiper on in the middle of a beautiful sunny day. The good news is I left when it was late and I could sneak away in the darkness of night to hide my shame in not knowing how to stop this damn wiper blade.

    On Monday, I was set to take it to a dealer, usually the last place I go with a vehicle. But, if it needed a quick solution from people experienced with this van, I figured the dealer was the proper place to be. They called me up and said it would cost $863 to fix the always on wiper blade. What? I told them that ain’t gonna happen. That was for replacing a body control module that controlled A/C, etc., for the whole vehicle. The cheapest solution was to go into the back panel of the hatch and pull the electrical connector to the wiper blade. Sadly, these guys left it up higher a bit in my field of view when I look back. But, it could be worse.

    Like you, I hate cars. However, hardware doesn’t phase me so much since I build all of my own PCs. Laptops would be another matter.

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