As I drove into town the other day and stopped at the stoplight (yes, the one and only stoplight in Kimball) my Toyota pickup gave me an unexpected message.
As I flicked on the right turn signal I noticed that the dash indicator was blinking much more rapidly than usual and I could hear the relay clicking like mad. This generally means that the tail light bulb is burned out.
In modern vehicles (mine’s a 2005) this can be quite an irritation. Long gone are the days of simply removing a flat lens cover and popping in a spare 1057 (if I recall the number correctly) bulb. Oh, no. Everything is modular these days.
You can still replace the bulbs, of course, and the chore isn’t really that bad, but you have to remove the entire tail light assembly to get to them. The replacement bulbs can be a bit pricey, too.
So I pulled into the parking lot of the local parts house and hopped out to see if I could remember how to remove the tail light assembly. But I didn’t have to. The whole thing had gone missing. Nothing left but a broken and ratty looking wiring bundle.
A friend of mine who was just leaving the store got quite a kick out of my situation. “Holy cow (or words to that effect) Evertson, how can you lose the whole dang thing?”
“Beats me,” I said. “I wonder how much one of these costs?”
“Don’t even ask ‘em in there,” he said, pointing to the parts store. “You can’t afford it. Buy one on line.”
But I had to ask, of course.
Turns out my friend was right. I couldn’t afford it.
After a surprisingly brief and relatively pain-free internet search, I found a replacement unit at a price I could live with. Three days later it arrived by FedEx. Installation was quick and easy.
With a proud and shiny new tail light assembly installed, I went in search of the old one. I had an idea that I’d lost it while driving over rough (former CRP) pasture ground, looking for the three cows I needed to make my tally come out right. But I’d driven over a lot of ground in two sections so I didn’t have a lot of hope. I’ve lost things on that ground before, lost forever until found accidentally a year or two or three later.
But I searched diligently, and after hours and hours of driving the cob-rough ground, I gave up and turned for home. That’s when I noticed a bright, silvery glint on the ground about a quarter-mile away. I headed for it, lost the glint, found it again, and finally pulled up next to the missing tail light. My tire tracks made it clear that I’d driven right by the darn thing several times. All’s well that ends well though.