How many people does it take to change a brake light…one mom, two mechanics, and a novice!

The journey to change my driver’s side brake light started when my neighbor told me that it was out. I was grateful that he told me because a blown brake light is an accident waiting to happen. However, I was slightly irritated that it was something unexpected that I would now have to take care of but…tis life. After a few seconds of sulking, I determined in my mind that I would do what I did the last time I needed a new brake light bulb: (1) Buy the brake light bulbs from AutoZone, and (2) Go to the mechanic shop and let one of the technicians put it in—hopefully free of charge.

The next day, I woke up with my blown brake light in the forefront of my mind—determined to get it fixed—no matter the cost. But before I could put my plan into action, I needed a second opinion. Was my driver’s side brake light really out? I wanted to make sure before I spent the money and time buying new brake light bulbs and having one installed.

I drove to my sister’s house and my mom confirmed my neighbor’s observation: my driver’s side brake light was out. After telling me where I could buy some inexpensive brake light bulbs, my mom told me to open my trunk. After gaining access, she pulled back the black compartment that led to my driver’s side brake light socket—offering to remove the old brake light bulb so I could take it to AutoZone and show them which brake light bulb I needed.

“If you buy the brake lights, I’ll put them in,” she said, loosening the brake light socket.

“Okay,” I responded. This was better than I had planned.

Unfortunately, as quickly as I set my heart on the new plan, it abruptly changed when my mom failed to remove the brake light socket from the hole.

“Take it Autozone,” she advised, tightening it again. “They’ll do it for you.”

“Okay,” I said, somewhat disappointed, but not defeated.  

After saying hi to sister, niece, and nephew, I got in my car and drove to AutoZone. With the year, make, and model of my car memorized, I walked into AutoZone and up to a cashier—thinking that I had enough information for them to give me the brake light bulbs that I needed.

When the cashier returned with my brake light bulbs in hand, I knew my assumption had been correct. Buying the brake light bulbs was quick and painless—hopefully the installation would be too. I held that expectation in my heart until I drove into the mechanic shop and saw the garage stalls and parking lot filled with cars. Would they even have time to replace my driver’s side brake light bulb?

“Hi, how can I help you?” the man, said as I walked through the door.

“Hi, I was wondering how much it would cost for you all to put in a driver’s side brake light bulb?”

“It probably won’t be today because we’re backed up,” he replied. “But I can give you a quote on how much it would cost.”

“Thank you,” I said disappointed. “I already have the brake light bulbs,” I announced, holding them into the air and secretly hoping that would change things.  

Upon hearing my declaration, another technician who was in the waiting area looked up at me and the new package of brake light bulbs I held in my hand.

“Well let me see,” he said. “It’s just a brake light, right? Let’s take a look.”

Yes! I thought, leading him outside to my car.

As I had done for my mom, I opened the trunk of my car.

“Just for your information, your brake light is in here. So next time, you can get to it from here,” he said, pulling back the black compartment that led to my brake light socket.

“Oh, okay,” I responded, not letting him know that I already knew that.

Like my mom, he loosened the brake light socket but was unable to pull it out.

After a few minutes, the technician who initially greeted me, walked out to my car.

“Did you get it?” he asked.

“No. I’ve got it lined up, but I can’t get it out,” he said, removing his hand from the compartment and walking to the side of my car.

The second technician walked to my trunk and took the first technician’s place. “Let me try.”

As they carried on a side conversation about something their co-worker needed, I silently prayed. Come on. Come on. Lord, please help them.

The Lord heard my prayer and answered it. Soon after my prayer, the second technician pulled the brake light socket out and handed it to the first technician.

“Yep, it’s blown” he said, pulling the old light bulb out of the socket after a few tugs.

I tore open the new package of brake light bulbs and quickly handed him one.

Thank you, Lord, I thought.

The finish line was in sight. I was home free.

The first technician looked down into the socket and back at the brake light bulb—seeming unsure about how the bulb was supposed to fit into the socket. Not letting his uncertainty stop him, he jammed the brake light into the socket and led it back into the compartment that held the brake light.

Yes, finally.

“I can’t get it back in there,” the first technician announced a few seconds later.  

I watched on in dismay. With every twist, turn, and push of the brake light socket toward the hole, it refused to go back in.

“Here, let me try,” said the second technician.

“Okay. I’m going back inside to see what he wants.”

I watched and silently prayed for the second technician to get the brake light socket back inside the brake light compartment. Again, God answered my prayer. The second technician pushed the bulb through the hole and positioned the socket in its place. I could see it!

Victory!

“I’ve got it in there, but I can’t tighten it” he said, shortly afterward.

“Oh, no,” I said, looking at the brake light bulb lying limp inside the brake light compartment.

“Hold on,” the second technician said, looking at me. “I’m going to grab another technician to help you. He will be right out.”

“Okay, thank you so much,” I replied, as my eyes followed him inside.

After five minutes, a man walked out from the garage toward me. He looked like the technician I had been waiting for.

“Hi,” I said enthusiastically.

The man didn’t look at me or acknowledge my greeting. He opened the driver’s side door of the car that was parked next to mine, removed a toolbox, and walked back into the garage.

False alarm.

Another minute or so passed before I thought to myself: I can tighten it back. How hard could it be?

Like my mom and the two technicians before me, I reached my hand into the compartment and grabbed the brake light bulb socket. After tinkering around with it for a while, I realized that in order to tighten it, I just had to align the socket correctly into the hole and twist it until it was tight.

No, it can’t be that easy, I thought, tightening the socket into the hole. I stepped back far enough from the car to see if the driver’s side brake light was in the same position as the passenger side brake light, and sure enough it was.

I did it…with the help of the Lord of course!

I was still wearing my triumph on my face when the first technician came back outside.

“I figured out how to tighten it,” I said. “I’m going to start my car and push down on the brake. Can you tell me if it’s working?”

With a nod, he agreed.

I turned over the ignition and pushed down on my brake before turning off the car.

“Is it working,” I said, getting out of the car.

“Nope,” he said, shaking his head back and forth.

I walked to the back of my car and looked at the brake light in disbelief.

“It’s not working, but I wouldn’t worry about it today since it’s late,” he said. “Tomorrow you might want to take it to Firestone and have them check it out. You had a good charge so it may just be your socket.”

“Okay,” I said graciously. “Thank you.”

I got back in my car—knowing that I wasn’t going to do anything he suggested. There was nothing wrong with my socket. I was not taking it to Firestone tomorrow. My brake light was going to be fixed today.

I drove back to AutoZone and parked my car near the front door—ready to execute Plan C. I would fix my brake light myself, and if I couldn’t, I would ask someone in AutoZone to help me.

“Help me Holy Spirit.” I couldn’t kick off Plan C without a prayer.

I opened my trunk, pulled back the black compartment, and untwisted the brake light socket. After a few seconds of finagling, I pulled the socket out of the hole.

Maybe, he didn’t put it in right, I thought, looking at the socket.

Upon closer examination, I found out that my presupposition was correct. The bulb wasn’t even all the way in the socket because the technician put it in wrong. Because it was jammed in the socket, I had to yank it out. Once it was out, I looked at the bulb and the socket to make sure that I was putting the bulb in correctly. Now that it was back in, I needed to check if it was working.

Since I was alone, and there was no one around to tell me if it was working, I decided to improvise. I pulled a heavy bucket, filled with miscellaneous items, from my trunk and placed it against my brake. I turned the ignition over and ran to the back of my car. And do you know what I saw? My brake light—lit up like a dim light on a Christmas tree!

I did it…with the help of the Lord of course!

In quick succession, I turned off my car, removed the bucket from the brake, and placed it back inside my trunk. I grabbed the brake light socket, with my new brake light bulb, shining faintly in the sunlight, and put it inside the brake light compartment—twisting the socket until it was tight.

Feeling like I could do anything, I closed my trunk, got back in my car and drove a few yards away to a commercial storefront that is being used as a church. I backed my car in front of its windows, and there it was, my new brake light shining in all of its glory!

I share this story with you because…

  1. Sometimes, things don’t always go according to your plan, but you can’t give up. You have to roll with the punches and curve balls that life throws at you. Be resilient and learn how to pivot—being ready to implement Plan B, C, D and E if needed.
  2. Sometimes, all you need is God and yourself. The people that you thought could solve the problem for you, sometimes can’t. In those moments, you realize that you already have everything you need to get the job done.
  3. Have faith in yourself. Just because you’ve never done something, doesn’t mean that you can’t do it. Remember, with God, all things are possible. In every situation, seek the Lord and ask Him what He wants you to do. If He says move forward—move forward no matter what it looks like or who isn’t there to help you. God is there. He will make a way out of no way.

Be encouraged! You are loved!  ❤️

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