Let me tell you what I did today.
After BD cut the grass this morning, the kids pointed out how the side of my van was all plastered with stray bits of grass and dirt. We decided it would be fun to wash the car and get wet in the blazing, unseasonable-even-for-Memphis heat. I went in the house to get a big pan (the plastic bucket is mysteriously bottomless) and soap and rags, then came out and pulled the hose out from the uncooperative reel. Remembering that I was out of washer fluid, I decided to fill the receptacle with the hose before I did anything else. In the winter I use real washer fluid but it's not like it has a chance to freeze anytime in the next four or five months.
You may see where this is going now. I popped the hood, propped it up, and looked around at the various caps that opened onto fluid receptacles. I knew that putting water in the wrong one would be bad. I saw two that were obviously the wrong ones, and one right under the windshield that had no discernible markings (that I could see), and after looking over the whole works one more time, I chose that one, uncapped it, and put the hose to it. The opening under the cap seemed very small and I sensed without it really registering that this didn't seem right. After a few minutes I stopped, looked around under the hood some more, and saw what I'd missed--the actual washer fluid receptacle. Crap!
I alerted BD to what I'd done and he came over to see that I had, in fact, put water where only brake fluid is meant to go. I went ahead and filled the actual washer fluid tank, and then the kids and I washed the van before I headed out to the oil change place a few blocks from our house. There was a young female employee greeting cars as they pulled up to the bays, and when I told her I needed my brake fluid drained and replaced, she shook her head and said "Oh, we can't do that." I think this is a lie, but I went on about half a mile or so down the road to a bigger tire/service place. I could tell the guy wanted to turn me away because they were so busy, but then he seemed to take pity on me because he called the mechanic in and asked if he could do it. He could. "You'll have to just leave it here and come back at four because we're so covered up," he said kindly.
I started to call BD to come get me, but reconsidered when I remembered the kids playing happily in the neighbors' sprinkler with their son. Instead, I went next door to Krystal, bought a pomegranate freeze, and set out for home on foot. It really wasn't a bad walk in spite of the heat, and the occasional honk from passing cars reassured me that if I have to be dumb, at least I'm still passably hot from a distance if the car is moving fast enough. The only downside to the walking was that I had on flip-flops. I was just recently told by a podiatrist not to wear flip-flops or any other cheap, unsupportive shoe if I'm going to be walking or on my feet for any period of time. At least these were the ones with the inch-thick foam footbed that actually does have some arch support built in, but the top straps are rubber and the left one had rubbed skin off the top of my foot by the time I got a few blocks from the house.
Once I made it inside, I stripped down to my skivvies and lay spread-eagle under the fan for about five minutes to cool off. In spite of the heat, loss of foot skin, and acceptance of the fact that I'm not very smart, I felt proud of myself for cleaning up after my own mistake without creating a hassle for anyone else. As it turns out, it's probably going to cost the exact amount I just received for my first paid writing gig. So I'm the only one paying for my mistake, in every sense of the word. At least that's something, right?