My car has reached the stage where I can't make jokes about it at airports. Bomb, you see, my car's a bomb. It still goes great, but I'm on borrowed time. Now this checkerplate marvel is not my vehicle, but that licence plate caught my eye: 'Froogl'.
Thrifty. I'm programmed for parsimony. Except when I'm not and I go crazy. That happens in regular measured doses. But when I let my hair down it usually just means I've brought myself within the realm of normal expense patterns. Usually. My father took (and still takes) frugality to pathologically prodigious levels. He would never have been prepared to stump up the extra costs associated with a custom licence plate.
Hey, be cool, I'm not judging your vanity plates. Nor your muscle vehicle. Nor any other made-up stuff in my head about the way you lead your life.
A while ago I snuggled my trusty steed into an inner-city end-spot in a narrow street. I coerced my car to cower in a spot that almost didn't exist, where I positioned my passenger side wing mirror neatly tucked up behind an extended tree limb. Of course I'll remember I did that at the end of the night, and reverse before swinging wide to leave. I'll remember, I told myself.
I completely forgot my back-up plan (which was to back up). I launched forward with force and sheered the mirror off with a horrific grinding crunch. It fell into the gutter. I'd rendered my dear little car a cyborg amputee. The door panel got a wild card entry into the minor-dings-and-scrapes club, with many of my car's panels already boasting lifetime membership.
I'm not careless nor unaware, but the rigours of pressured city driving and parking make these little things inevitable - unless you live in seclusion and avoid busy locales (or car ownership) entirely. OK, maybe this is a medium-sized thing. I retrieved the mirror assembly from the gutter and procrastinated about what to do next.
The incident added injury to insult for my little Nissan, coinciding with the rear window tint having finally degraded to the point where every sparkling Sydney day bordered on pea-souper to this would-be-attentive driver. A journey sans left mirror on a wet day where the broken rear demister conspired with the blistering tint to see me conclude that I couldn't bloody see (behind) and that this was dangerous.
I researched how the professionals remove window tint then performed my own half-baked I-haven't-got-time-for-all-those-steps-nor-tools version, excising a porthole in the tint. I gradually enlarged the porthole to one that would be the envy of any Inuit, but I've not completed the task (and I know I won't). I still had no idea what to do about the mirror, its assembly frustratingly intact. Sans the main structural element that supports the whole kaboodle, a cast metal piece with strength almost equalling that of Tony Abbott's ear cartilage. I only need that part, I thought, the cartilage.
Lusting after other cars' perfectly-formed ears and wondering how they were attached was getting me nowhere. Rego time (with associated roadworthiness inspections) is fast approaching. Borrowed time.
A stroll down Google Grove elicits a lead. Nestled among the the rusting theme parks of outer-western Sydney I discover the magic kingdom of Nissanyland. Can-we-go-please-please-please? Yes, if you're very good. After completing the super-human challenge of pointing at a series of seemingly-pointless touchscreens, invisible in the searing sun (parts inventories, price lists, stern rules about tools, and toolbag searches on exit) entrance is gained via suitably fairground-style coin-operated turnstiles. Hey, at least I didn't hurdle them (I won't say that a part of me didn't consider it, or its theoretical feasibility at least). I've recruited a capable cohort to be my partner in grime.
Part graveyard, part library, complete with archives where Nissan signs have 'Datsun' added (scrawled in texta) ditto Mitsubishi and 'Chrysler'.
We close in. It's Frontierland we really want. Front ear land. Bomb, bomb, er, I mean boom, boom.
You just can't get cars in that colour any more, although similarly-hued T-shirts are still in the laundry shuffle.
Microsurgery. I was glad of my mate's support and tools. My Phillips head screwdriver was immediately country cousin to the superior persuasion of a socket and lever set. I would have been screwed (or not) without those sockets.
I had seen the light. I loved all tools and all things requiring dismantling. Let me at 'em. I scanned other tempting parts 'just like mine' but stayed focused on my singular goal.
Viola! (sic). There is great benefit to learning how the various filigree door trim bits come apart on someone else's bomb before I have a go at my own.
Important rules for stock control - note the Lot Number from which you have removed parts. Records are then adjusted.
Two can play at that game.
Cazzbo stalking. No, I did not say 'Cazzbo's talking'.
Retaining the borrowed socket set has the powerful effect of negating procrastination. So many times I gear up for a job with meticulous, purposeful preparation. Then the (vital) next step (bloody doing the job) fails to happen. What's with that?
Instead, I continue my role-play, Bogan For A Day, by working on my car in the street. Hey, I'm just like my many houso neighbours, although my task is much quieter than theirs. Their tasks regularly involve extending a vehicle's rev range by somehow confusing octane with octave. Nissan Dorma, anyone?
This isn't rocket science (although I'm sure rockets have their fair share of clip-on plastic panels, and plastic-rocket detractors who remember when rockets had cowcatchers). I learn how a 'manual mirror' works, revealing retro cyborg sinews and ball-joints.
They don't make 'em like that any more.
In honour of appropriate tools...
...and who was Mr Phillips' barber?
Cyborg sinews and joysticks are no more. The new (old) part is an electric mirror, but I'm off the grid, baby, since there's nothing to plug it into. No (First World) problemo!
Oops, I've disturbed the dashboard jigsaw puzzle that I've been working on at red lights.
'Solved'. And for the curious, CA3 = CAZ. The famed Rosetta Plastic (ciphered circa 1996) will see another generation mix up the alphabet, or some two-part epoxy.
Ahoy, children. Is this the piano equivalent of Nissanyland? A wreckers' yard with Lot Numbers, ready for you to prise a prize?
Is there really a place where the thrifty and resourceful skip gaily like children in a garden, plucking piano hammers like tulips? Or is it a hospital, a site for sore ivories?
NO! Are you crazy?
Rather, it is the hallowed storage facility of Sydney's coolest piano carriers (if their name is any indication). Extreme Piano Removals - 1300 074 266. They are rightfully well-regarded.
Somehow the space serves hoarders, house movers, house renovators, procrastinators, piano technicians, piano wholesalers... and street pianos who can't afford umbrellas or are too lazy to sell The Big Issue.
Stick around and you will learn more. Stay tuned!