3.09.2009

The Mechanic and His Cars

My Significant Other is a mechanic. He is an excellent mechanic and can fix any problem in any car and especially loves the older, pre-computer cars. He's detailed, intricate, dedicated, and painstakingly thorough. If you have a problem with your car, take it to MechanicMan and it is a done deal.

Now, if the car belongs to MechanicMan there is a whole other set of rules that are followed. Mechanics do not fix their cars the same way they fix yours. They do whatever is the least possible method of patching the car. MechanicMan's cars were always very old (he calls them classic), rusty (character), and noisy (proof they are Mopar). Once my sons compared his car to John Candy's "Uncle Buck" car and it caused me to look out the window and see the twin sitting in my driveway, right down to the smoking, popping, and growling engine that just would not shut off.

It turns out that this same rule applies to family members of MechanicMan including his girlfriend, who happened to be me. I had a 13-year-old Datsun B210 that I faithfully took in to be serviced every six months. MechanicMan would take none of that and he started "servicing" my car. I'm not saying anything negative about MechanicMan – he is my partner of 22 years so there are many endearing qualities – however, his idea of tuning up my car was to take the one iffy sparkplug out, sand it a bit, and put it back. Good as new!

This went on for several years and eventually the poor car was just getting old and things were kind of falling apart, but MechanicMan would keep it going by sanding here, oiling there, and every now and then replacing the starter. In fact he replaced the starter about once a year until he finally went and bought a top-of-the-line expensive starter that lasted for several years.

In the last year of owning the Datsun, though, things started to happen. There was something wrong in the ignition system and MM could never trace exactly where the source was. I would coast to a stop at a light and the car would die. I would slow down to exit the freeway and the car would die (usually followed very closely by a semi right on my ass). The kids and I would chant as we approached lights with "stay green stay green stay green stay green" until we safely made it through. Those times we stalled, the boys would get out while I put the car in second gear, and they would push me until the car started and they'd run and jump in and away we'd go.

Eventually, MM gave me a screwdriver and opened the hood and showed me where the starter was and said to touch that with the screwdriver and sparks would fly and the starter would kick the engine over. So, I had my trusty little screwdriver with me all the time. And then one day when I was opening the hood, the hood release inside the car broke off in my hand. MM gave me a pair of pliers to pull the hood release to open the hood so I could run around and spark the starter. Eventually even my emergency break quit working. So, now the car would die, I'd use the pliers to open the hood, jump out and use my screwdriver and wincingly tap the starter, which would spark, and start the car, and I'd jump back in. I looked like a one-woman keystone cop show.

One evening I was leaving work with everyone else and just about to reach the main road while on an incline when my car dies. DIES. I'm sitting there quietly going insane because my emergency breaks don't work, I'm on an incline, I can't get out of the car, I'm absolutely wigging, when the driver behind me (who had heard my tales of woe for endless days) tapped on my window. "Hand me the screwdriver." He started my car, handed me back my trusty screwdriver, and off I went.

I went straight to Dishman Dodge where I knew the manager and told him I could afford $150 a month for a used car – that works. He said for that amount I could afford a brand new car. So I bought a brand new car and added an additional ten-year warranty to it and told MM he could keep his screwdriver and his pliers and he could not touch my car. Ever.

.

3 comments:

al said...

OK, knowing you AND your cars AND MM, this is very, very funny. I also know this isn't the end of the story ... what about the car that replaced the Datsun?

I had a VW fastback which I got for $1.00. I totally rebuilt it and finally drove it into the ground to where the only brakes were the emergency brakes. I got very deft at shifting, steering and pulling the center level all at once. It had dual carbs and no chokes, and ALWAYS started no matter how cold the weather. Damn, that was a great car!

JeanieSpokane said...

The car that replaced the Datsun was my little red Suzuki Swift that ran GREAT for 18 years and was totaled in front of MM's house, in the middle of the night, while minding its own business of parking along the side of the road. It was crushed on both sides by a drunk driver who swiped it on one side, pushing it into boulders on the other side, and leaving the scene. We got up and looked at my car, still kind of smoking from it's run in. It looked like it snuck out to a demolition derby, played around, and then snuck back.

Frum Helen Back said...

This holds true with carpenters too. My dad was one, but it was my mother who ended up doing the carpentry jobs in our house.