Yesterday at lunch I went out to my car and turned the key and wiggled the windshield wiper switch, because that sometimes gets them working again. My logic went as follows: maybe something got wet and messed with the connection or something.
But it didn’t help. So I opened the hood and stood there in a mild rain shower looking inside. What looks electrical? I asked myself. There were various tubes and wires, something I identified as the battery. I saw the place where the oil goes in and where you put the fluid that then gets squirted onto the windshield and theoretically wiped back off if the wipers are functioning and gave a bitter, ironic little chuckle. I saw various other things. I saw a part with wires going in and out that my father-in-law the mechanic told me the Fiat mechanic had replaced. I gave that a wiggle and also the wires leading in and out of it to make sure they were plugged in well. Ultimately my hands were good and greasy from wiggling everything that would wiggle.
When I closed the hood and tried the wipers again, they worked and I went back into my office still ignorant of what the actual problem is, but somewhat happier.
I met an American woman once who had been to Indonesia and who told me they had what they call “black magic mechanics” there. Your car is locked into a darkened garage and you stand outside and hear tapping and stuff, which are the noises the spirits make who fix your car.
They do both mechanical and body work.
I mentioned this yesterday to an Indonesian friend. He filled me in on a few new details: the practice has its roots in the animist tradition in Indonesia, and it is primarily the mechanic himself who does the work (he thought). The mechanic can, for example, fix a dent by a laying-on of hands.
I told him I had fixed my windshield wipers that way earlier in the day.
It doesn’t last, though, he said. Either the repaired part goes again eventually, or something worse happens. Sounds like the Fiat mechanic I take my car to uses one of those guys, I said.