Wiper Bender!

December 29th, 2006 by William


Christmas always makes me laugh. Well it is not the holiday itself that makes me smirk but rather the ideals that this time of year supposedly represents and how people actually act in real life that makes me chuckle. To give a good example, I often eat lunch on a popular shopping strip in Berkeley (they also happen to have good cheap eats). Most of the year the street is heavy with foot and car traffic and everyone seems friendly and happy to be out. Around Christmas time things change dramatically. Suddenly there is a huge wave of traffic, gridlock on both the sidewalk and the streets as people scramble to do their business, and while you may never hear a single horn the rest of the year, the two weeks before Christmas sounds like a Ricola commercial. Nothing says “Merry Christmas” like a loud horn and a middle finger.

While I’m somewhat amused by this contradictory behavior a part of me is also saddened that the real meaning of the season has become lost. But on Christmas day everything seemed great, nothing was going wrong, “was the Christmas spirit really lost” I wondered? I had pulled my MG hurriedly into my driveway partially blocking the sidewalk. Normally I would pull all the way into the garage, but I was in a hurry to make it to Christmas dinner and I figured their wouldn’t be a lot of foot traffic today so I left my little car there while I went to a relatives house for a few hours then returned home. I climbed into my MGB to go meet up with some friends when I noticed that the windshield wiper was bent 90 degrees. It was mangled in such a way that the wiper arm was still contacting the windshield but the blade was facing up to the sky instead of toward the glass. At first I thought it must have been a freak accident, maybe the wind had done it. But there was no way the wind could twist the metal arm so perfectly, this must have been a person giving me a late Christmas present.

Fortunately for me my MG currently only has one wiper (it has since I’ve owned it and I’ve never bothered replacing the other), so there was less damage to be done, but still the prank was starting to make my blood boil. As I sat there I couldn’t help but imagine some 14 year old punks twisting up my already battered automobile on Christmas day; what the heck is wrong with this world? Then it occurred to me that I could probably just bend the thing back and it would be as a good as new. So without moving from the driver’s seat I unrolled my window and reached my ape-like arm around to the wiper. With a simple twist the wiper arm bent nearly perfectly back into position. A quick test of the wiper revealed it was working perfectly, no harm done. My mood changed drastically from furious to jovial. Suddenly I wished the wiper bender could have been there to see me effortlessly fix his vandalism without breaking a sweat or losing my composure. I felt like car-Gandhi practicing non-violent resistance to the British Empire of car vandalism.

As I drove off feeling merry, I couldn’t help but remember when I was a young and rather destructive child. I used to walk around my neighborhood looking for cars that had metal valve stem caps, if I spotted a car that had them I would promptly take them off. I can even remember putting nails under people’s tires when I was really young and especially stupid. So maybe whoever bent my wiper isn’t such a bad person, they are just going through that destructive phase of youth. I still think they should be punished if they get caught, just as I was when I got caught, but I can’t help but laugh at how life goes full circle some times. I guess that’s what they call Karma.

-Bill Mertz

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About William

I am a twenty something car enthusiast. I spend most of my days working in a small restoration shop in Northern California that specializes in vintage Alfa Romeos. I also manage to do some freelance writing for a handful of automotive publications. When I'm not at the shop I can usually be found working on one of my own project cars, out driving on a good windy road or good jeep trail. Despite what my girlfriend says cars aren't what defines me, they are only what I do. When I have a chance I also love to go camping, play sports or generally do any type of outdoor activity. I don't take myself to seriously, so I hope you don't either.

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