Tuesday, June 21, 2005

What's Right with the Universe

It's so easy to get caught up in the bad things in life, but it's the good things we should really focus on. It's so easy to think that things couldn't possibly get worse and they'll never get better, but sooner or later someone comes along and reaffirms your faith in the entire human race.
The quote from below is from a time I was babysitting a young girl whose parents came to town to go to a conference. (Her father and my father worked for the same company; Dad works at their main headquarters.) She was being picky. She wanted fruit, but not the room service fruit, she wanted to go down to the hotel dining area. I didn't have a lot of money with me and I didn't know how to charge the food to their room, so we just got a small fruit cup to split. They came out with a large one for each of us, and didn't charge us for it. I was 16 at the time, and it really made my day. We tipped them a dollar. (The fruit would have been $5 or $6.)
Or take today. I'm living on campus two hours from home to work at Boeing. I'm borrowing one of the family cars to get back and forth, and on the way home from work yesterday the battery warning light went on. That car has a habit of putting on lights for no reason (last time it was the brake light) so I figured it wouldn't be a big deal, and drove home. On the way to work this morning the light came on and stayed on the entire trip, so as soon as I got there I had a look. Battery looked okay, the belt was on tight, so I figured it was the alternator. (Not that I knew where the alternator was, or what it looked like. I've only dealt with the belt, not the alternator.)
I asked one of the inspectors at work if he knew anything about cars, and he sent me over to talk to a guy who works at splicing who was a big fan of cars. (Splicing is where they take the three main sections of the aircraft and splice them together. They're built separately, to make it more efficient.) He came out and had a quick look, said it looked like the light was the only problem but he'd come by after work if I'd be willing to stay and plug in his diagnostic tool just to make sure. I'm not one to give up a free look at the car, it's better than getting stuck on the highway, so I said sure.
Turns out the alternator was broken. It didn't smell bad or anything, but it was definitely the alternator. The battery was in good shape (full voltage when the car was off, and I could turn on the headlights and then start the car without any problem) but once the car was turned on with the headlights and the radio and the heater the voltage dropped about two volts instead of rising two because the engine was on.
So he went out and got a new alternator for my car. There was a choice of three, and he asked me which one I wanted with the advice that the cheapest one would work, since I have a Chevy. (Rebuilds apparently don't work in Fords. Interesting note.) So he went out and bought it, and he put it in, all the while showing me how to do it in case I ever had to do it myself. We finally got it all hooked up, and I was good to go.
I didn't have the money for the alternator with me. (I'm rather short of cash right now, too, since my paychecks have been going home instead of to my mailbox here, and I had to fork over the money for my room here.) I asked him if I could pay him Thursday or Friday, when my paycheck came in, and he said that was fine, whenever I got a chance would be good. (Something you don't run into that often nowadays!)
The bill?
Alternator -- $146.00
Labor (1 hour) -- $4.00
Total -- $150.00
I like the people at Boeing.



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