Wednesday, June 5, 2013

The Automotive Fruits of My Mechanical Labor

Other than raising his children to the point where they are capable of making their own spending money, perhaps nothing pleases a man more than working on his own vehicles.

Why is that, you ask? Well it’s a combination of factors, really. Of course, testosterone is one factor but there are others. Expense being one (good mechanics don’t come cheap but are worth every penny), scheduling being another (“Sorry, I have to work on the car today” is a great reply to the wife asking “Want to go to the grocery store with me?”). Finally, there is that sense of accomplishment a man experiences when the job is done. And when that job is also done right --- boy oh boy --  he can even experience PRIDE along with accomplishment.

Thus, the reason that I look forward to changing the oil or doing some minor mechanical work on one of my “classics” (classics being used very liberally in this instance).

We are all aware that we live in an age of complex car components and hard-drives under the hood. Because of that, man’s ability to even do a simple oil change has been jeopardized. And that’s why I drive my simpler vehicles (the other reasons being the aforementioned children, spending money and those trips to the grocery store). Simply stated, these vehicles allow me to hang onto a bit of my automotive autonomy.

Take my pickup for instance: it’s been around since the early 1990s, the odometer reads 200,000-plus miles and I have been married to it, I mean together with it, longer than I have my wife. Anyway, not only am I the sole owner, driver and defender and friend of the pickup but I am also the sole mechanic, and have been for a few years now.

And as the sole mechanic, I must say I am very proud of the fact that the pickup still starts when you turn the key (and jiggle the wires under the hood, and say a little prayer and sometimes beat the dash).

Perhaps more importantly than starting though, is the fact that the pickup most always stays running while in motion. And that, my friends, is where the sense of accomplishment and pride come together in a beautiful combination. Sort of like the combination of driving with one foot on the gas and the other on the brake (which is another automotive skill that I have mastered).

What a sweet thing it is to fire up that pickup’s engine, get out, slam the hood shut and slip back behind the steering wheel, knowing that, with my own two hands, a roll of electrical tape and blood, sweat and tears, I have kept it running for yet another trip to the trash dumpster and back. Yes, it is sweet indeed; like the sweet aroma of antifreeze leaking out under the dash.

But even sweeter still are those moments spent under the hood (where the antifreeze aroma is even stronger). In those moments when my work is done, my hands are greasy, my knuckles are bleeding, my tears have finally ceased and my anger has finally cooled, I realize just how very manly I am.

In those moments, I survey my mechanical labors and see, like a glorious lemon, the automotive fruits of all my labor.