What seems like a million years ago I was a mechanic. I miss it sometimes. There is something very satisfying about taking something broken and making it usable again. The part I miss the most is that there is only one way of doing something. You open the book, follow the steps, and that is that. It’s a big contrast from the 5000000000 different ways there are to tell a story…after you pull a story out of your brain from lord know where and lord knows how.
If you know a mechanic, he or she probably drives a hunk of crap. Mechanics all seem to drive hunks of crap. Maybe it’s an affectation, maybe it’s because you are usually dirty and don’t see the point in getting into a nice car and getting it covered in grease, maybe it’s because you see the potential in the car, or see it for what it could have been. Some types of people take in every stray animal that comes along, mechanics take in every cheap hunk of crap they run across.
For a good portion of my life, all I drove where hunks of crap. Cars with one grey door, cars that needed you to apply the brakes in a certain ways to get them to work, cars that needed to be started with a screwdriver or would only start it the radio was also on. usually they were….conspicuous. Old, big, with homemade paint job flames on the front, or racing stripes, you name it. They would attract cops like a moth to a flame, and they got about 15 miles to the gallon.
…and, they were dangerous. Of the many times I should have died, I can count at least five times I should have died while in one of these types of cars. I had the brakes go out while exiting the expressway at 65mph into an intersection. This was on a trip to Florida. I was coming up on the off ramp, I pressed the brake peddle and it went right to the floor affecting the speed of the car not one iota. My passenger was sleeping and I wondered to myself the age old question ” I you could know when you are going to die…would you want to?” I think I would, so I woke him up and said calmly “we have no breaks.” I turned off on what at first glance seemed like a nice long, safe, void of oncoming traffic exit ramp…which actually turned out to empty into a busy intersection. This not being the first hair raising driving experience I had gotten into, I deftly swerved and spun and steered us to safety with maneuvers that could have been used in a summer blockbuster car chase scene. About a mile and a half down the road the car finally rolled to a stop. My passenger got out, smoked an entire cigarette in one drag, and I fixed the breaks
Ever driven a car while it was on fire? I have. I don’t mean the stereo is smoking, I mean there are flames wiggling out from under the hood…but “if that light will hurry up and change and I keep my nerve I can get to that parking lot rather than have it break down in traffic and get towed away and get a big ticket…then I can fix it.” “Then I can fix it”…? what kind of person wants to fix a car that almost exploded with them in it and then continue driving? A mechanic…or maybe just me. Some part of me must have liked the excitement and drama .
Awhile back I got a nice , functional, inconspicuous Honda. I thought I would miss the power of a 30 year old V-8, or feel like the guy at the end of Goodfellas “now I’m just another shmuck”. But, as it turns out, I love it. It runs and functions, and it blends in.. It blends in so well, half the time I can’t find it in the parking lot or I stick my key into someone else’s Honda thinking it’s mine. They must only make a certain number of different keys, because I actually got into someone else’s car a couple of weeks ago, only to have a strange dog lick my face. He looked like the kind who sheds a lot so I got out and searched for my own car.
After years of seeing cops make u-turns to get behind my car and run the plates, secure in the odds that based on the look of this wreck they’ll be able to check off some kind of tickets- bad muffler, no insurance, burned out tail lights…”this things gotta be a gold mine as far as meeting my quota” they’d think…it is nice being in a car that for all intents and purposes is invisible.
Best part is it doesn’t need constant repair. I don’t need to keep a spare alternator, and complete tool box in the trunk, and my hand don’t look like I have been punching broken glass from having to hastily repair my car on the side of the road.
I can’t even list all the “on the side of the road” repairs I’ve done in my life, but I can tell you they are no fun. It’s usually 100 degrees outside, or minus 2. There is usually unsympathetic traffic, and whatever part needs to be fixed is usually hot enough to boil an egg. It sucks.
My Honda broke yesterday. The tie rod snapped and the car nose-dived and skidded to a halt ripping out the CV Joint. I inspected the disaster and part of me was relieved. This car, while old, is far newer that the 70’s GM’s I knew how to repair. I will either be able to afford have someone else fix it …or not have a car. While those are not good long term options, my hands and whatever part of my brain deals with stress, were relieved.
It got towed home (man, what a racket being a towing company it…153.00 to tow a car six blocks…I’m in the wrong business) and I looked it over. A chill went up my spine “this doesn’t look that complicated”. Surely though, I’d need some special tools or something. Nope. I got on the interwebs and found out everything I need to know. It’s not that complicated. Aside for a couple of bolts that would be far easier if I still had air tools, this is well within my ability.
Did I say I miss repairing cars? I take it back.
Anyhow, new parts aren’t free and 7 weeks before the largest Comic book convention in the world is not the time I have a lot of disposable income, or any disposable income.
coupon code – cvjoint- is good for 30% off your entire order ( that’s the best discount all year, and it won’t be repeated …knock on wood). The sale ends once I have the cost of the new parts, so early bird gets the worm.