The Wiper Blade Adventure

Or: Blade Runner 2022

Photo of my backyard, with bamboo to the left and background, and the trunk of a palm tree in the middle right

A storm was brewing over Corpus Christi today. When I mentioned this to Lauren, she asked me to drop off a rental dress at the UPS Store before it started pouring. It was the final step to conclude her adventure to Dallas to see Lady Gaga in concert, which was plagued by enough plane troubles for an intercontinental flight, without leaving the state.

While at the UPS Store, I noticed they changed their slogan to, “Every ing you need, all in one place.”

That’s “every ing”, which appears to be a play on “every thing“, and the -ings they’re referring to are: shipping, packing, printing, and mailing. The -ing part has a lighter shade to stand out.

I’m mildly irked by this, and I’m sure you are too. But I’m writing about it, so from a marketing viewpoint, I guess it’s working.

After I dropped off the package, I decided now was the best time to pick up replacement wiper blades for the van. The last time I remember replacing them was three years ago, and lately they’ve been smearing more than wiping. This past weekend, a trip through the backroads of South Texas made the need for replacement even more apparent.

The bugs were so thick during the trip that it sounded like raindrops hitting the windshield, and the rain sensor in my van thought so too, so it turned the wipers on. While trying to remove the peanut butter-like spread of bug guts from the glass, the wiper fluid nozzles gave their last feeble spurts, leaving us with a hazy view of the surrounding farmland.

Here’s a photo I took of the carnage on the front of my van a couple days later:

The bug-covered front of a 2016 Ford Transit Connect

I discovered that most of the bugs appeared to be mosquitoes. I’m amused at smashing more mosquitoes in a single car trip than I’ve ever done with my own hands, but then I think about how enormous that swarm of mosquitoes must have been.

Close-up of the bugs on the front of the van

Back to the wiper blades — they’re an unusual size and can be hard to find, especially since I prefer the beam type over the conventional/bracketed type. If the marketing copy is to be believed, the beam type is better, but the real reason I like them is because the design looks “eleganto”.

I discovered that places that try to sell you on replacement wiper blades, like tire shops and glass repair, don’t have my particular size and type in stock. So when the salesperson offers to replace my wiper blades, I always say yes. They always light up about meeting their wiper blade quota for the month, and run off to the back to try to find my type, only to come back and apologize profusely about not having them in stock.

Is this mean? Maybe. It’s also a gamble, because I always say yes. One day I’ll end up paying $69 for wiper blades I don’t need, which is fine, I’ll ask them not to put them on so I can save them for later.

One place that does have them in stock is O’Reilly Auto Parts, and that’s where I went today. They have that little computer in the wiper blade aisle to help you find the right blades for your vehicle. I remember being upset that I wasn’t tall enough to see what was on the screen when I was younger. Now I’m older, have to stoop to use it, and I’m still upset. Because wipers cost the same as a month’s worth of McDonald’s Happy Meals.

The wiper selection computer at O’Reilly Auto Parts

That’s fine though, I got to use the cool wiper computer. Since I drive a Fõŗn ¦rænmiřm Çormɇ¦, I only had to hit the [MORM) option a couple times. I did spend a few minutes trying to decide between BØRŠMH S;;ëlermn Di℟mrnFï¦ or TĪRMÑŒ Ṯiᵵærmn blades, but I ended up going with the BØRŠMH blades.

When the lady behind the counter read the name on my account, she claimed to be my father and made some respirator noises. Naturally, I asked my new father to pay for my wiper blades, but, as usual, my father didn’t provide, so I had to tough it up and buy my own wiper blades.

As I walked outside the store, it began to rain, so my timing was almost perfect. I hopped inside my van, unpacked the new wiper blades, and took off my hat and glasses in preparation for installing the blades in the rain. Since I had some trouble finding a set in stock, I decided to stash the receipt in my glove compartment. Rifling through the stack of papers to the section where I keep receipts, I found two receipts from years before, for the exact same blades, also purchased at O’Reilly’s. It appears I’ve gone through the same ordeal twice before, and had the same thought about stashing the receipt.

I wonder if I gained a new father each time, too.

Thanks for reading!