Friday, May 19, 2017

Human Mechanics

This upcoming weekend, in particular, Sunday, I highly recommend that if you are located anywhere in the seven cities and hear massive amounts of yelling, cursing and the throwing of metal objects at other objects… please leave me alone. That is, unless you want to volunteer to come change a water pump on a jeep and throttle cables on my Harley.

It’s not that I don’t know what to do, or even how to do it. After all, I’ve changed starters, head gaskets, heads, valves, pistons, batteries, radiators, water pumps and, well… pretty much anything else gear related in my years. It’s just that I don’t enjoy it. Okay, that’s not totally true, I enjoy it up to a point… what that point is I can not say. 

I spent ten years working part time in a machine shop, tearing apart engines, cleaning them, fixing them, rebuilding them and even grinding, planing and refurbishing them back into fine tuned, high octane burning, carbon emitting, transmission grinding and tears in the eye joy machines. 

That type of work I don't mind. When the material I’m working on is staring me right back in the face. Working under a hood, stooped over fender, crawling around on the concrete or even sitting in the grass… well, it just makes my bones ache thinking about it. 

Now, truly these are not really complaints, these are just moments of uncomfortableness that I’m most likely exaggerating in my own little mind. You know, like we all do. Oh? You say you don’t? Really? Do tell me your story. I’m all ears.

You can’t. I know you can’t. Hell, I can’t. I wish I could.

Which is something I don’t understand. I like to fix things. Cars, motorcycles, toy trains, puzzles and hell… just about anything that’s broken, I’ll step right up and try to fix it. That seems to be a characteristic I was born with.

For as long as I can remember I was curious about how to fix things, how to build things and, how to make things better.  I never went to a trade school, but over the years I’ve read a few books, puttered with enough mechanical things, electronic things that I developed a breadth of knowledge on things that I can’t even begin to fathom how deep that well is.

No, I never went to a trade school. What I did do was simple.

I just showed up.

That’s it.

I showed up, kept my mouth shut and listened to the journeymen who taught me everything I know. However; like good journeymen, they never taught me everything they knew. Which is good. Some things you just have to learn for yourself.

  Which brings me to today.

You see in my life, my family that is, we’ve been going through a pretty damned hard rough patch. Not my immediate family, no, my in-laws to be specific. They are going through a rough patch. They are both pretty much incapacitated. My wife, being the good daughter she is, has stepped up to the plate to take care of most of their needs. Bills that need to be paid, or socks that need to be bought, or even a salad from a restaurant they might want to nibble on, she seems to be the one they call. Now, to be fair, her brother also helps out. From what I understand it is a lot as well. I’m just not around to see what he does nor am I around to see what my wife does all the time. I do however hear about it from her.

And, as you can probably guess, this type of activity can take it’s toll on a person. Just like a fourteen year old water pump with over one hundred thousand miles on it can break. Or, throttle cables on a motorcycle that gets ridden almost everyday of the year can break. People under stress or overuse can break.

Like the water pump or throttle cables, the stress, wear and tear go mostly unnoticed. By the operator as well as the people around them. That is… until…

Little things. frowns start becoming more prevalent. Exhaustion even after eight hours of rest. A less than approachable attitude towards any type of inconvenience and well, a general change in personality and disposition. The person who is going through this, wont notice it. Hell, they’ll even fight you if you mention it. Like a machine whose parts are failing, you know there is something wrong, but you just can’t communicate it to the machine.

So what do you do?

Simple, identify the problem, implement a solution and wait for resolution.

Int the case of the jeep, a new water pump. In the case of my Harley, new throttle cables… and in the case of my wife… on her birthday which is only a few short days after mother’s day… an all expense paid trip to the spa. Something that she’s never experienced.

This evening when I saw her for the first time since this morning when I left for work, she looked happy, relaxed and even a bit like the young lady I met thirty years ago. The mechanics at the spa spent over three hours working on her and it paid off. 

The months of wear and tear magically disappeared. She looked renewed and invigorated. This made me happy.

Now, if only I can get away with three hours of mechanical work on two vehicles on Sunday without messing anything up, I will be thrilled.

Have a great week. Do something that will make you smile and relax. And maybe, just maybe, you will have fixed something you didn’t know was broken inside of you.

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