Car, I Hardly Know You (ms)

As I write this I’m sitting in the service area of a car dealership. My pickup truck is in for routine service but I secretly wish I could come here just to hang out. The place has a donut shop inside, comfy chairs, televisions and Internet, all the comforts of home save for the donut shop. What a long winding road its been.

I pop the hood on my truck every so often just to see if I can still do it and to check the windshield washer’s cleaning fluid but beyond that engine maintenance, to me, is a lost cause. Ever looked at the engine of your vehicle? I can’t even find the starter on mine let alone repair it even if I knew it was ailing. Diagnostics on a modern engine are done by one computer talking to another, no humans need interfere. All this has pretty much eliminated the need for a breed of man known as a Shade Tree Mechanic.

I was among that select group. We fixed stuff on our vehicles and if I didn’t have the right nut or bolt, the wrench that fit or were short a quart of oil during a change, well, the guy next door would likely have it. We were a fraternity, so to speak, a loosely formed group of guys who found pleasure in doing an oil change or rotating tires or throwing on new brake shoes. Doing any of these things was a badge of accomplishment, a medal of achievement, a blue ribbon for enterprise. Besides, it saved money which was always scarce.

When we married my wife brought her car to the marriage along with numerous other things. Well, the starter went on that car and I knew it because the thing wouldn’t start and everything else was good. I disconnected the battery, squeezed under the car and ratcheted the two bolts that were holding it, took off two wires and I had the starter out. I ambled on down to the nearest parts store, bought a rebuilt starter and went on home. I guess by the time I finished I had about two hours into the project including time spent having coffee, shooting the breeze with a neighbor and discussing the state of world affairs with the guy at the parts store. I’m just guessing but I suspect I’d spend that much time finding the starter in a car today.

So, what we do is take our vehicles to places like the one I’m sitting in today. They hook their computer to the computer in the car or truck and one tells the other what it needs, the job is done and you’re on the way. Very efficient, very easy and while I pay for it I know that if something isn’t done right I can bring my truck back and they’ll do it over until it is. I know that to be the case because I checked and I would not be here if it weren’t so. Still, even with all that, I do miss that group of guys who kept their motors running one turn of the wrench at a time.

–Mike Stevens
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~ by admin on January 16, 2012.

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