Tuesday 17 January 2012

Saint Jude

Well, the cold continues to hover over the city and indeed most of the prairies. Tonight we expect the mercury to bottom out at around -36º C. I am not sure what the wind chill is predicted to be, but I have no intention of going out at all.

You know, when I was working I would dread this kind of weather. Sure, it was unpleasant to work in, but what bothered me was the anticipation the night before. I tend to be a worrier and this kind of forecast would drive me nuts! I would worry about freezing my fingers or toes, I would worry about other people freezing their fingers and toes, I would worry about getting out to my walk and once there whether the truck dropping the mail off would be there on time. There is nothing worse than standing in one place in -30º weather waiting, and not knowing just how long you would need to wait. Generally it would only be a few minutes, but a few minutes would be enough of a set back that would keep cold for the rest of the day.

I would also worry weather my car would start and what I would do if it didn’t. I am not very mechanical, so when I am confronted with a broken down vehicle it is like putting a monkey in front of a computer and telling him to type his name. The monkey knows that there is something that you want him to do and he knows that he should do something, but what that something is, totally escapes him. I am that monkey! When the car doesn’t start, I will lift the hood and look inside at the miles of wire and cast aluminium.
Sometimes I will check the oil and shake a wire or two with the hope that somehow the fix will be that simple. So, for the past forty years the “fix” hasn’t been that simple. I still have hope that at some time before I die I will jiggle a wire and turn the dipstick to the left, just so, and magically the engine will start.

One of my favourite authors, Robert Heinlein, wrote in one of his books that it is technology that separates us from the baser animals and the ability to understand that technology separates the superior humans from the rest of the rabble. Sadly, I am that rabble. I have tried over the years to do mechanical work on my vehicles and have had a little success with oil changes. Well, except for the time the washer or O-ring or magic stopper thingy fell into the discarded oil and I put the bolt back in without it, only to find that the oil would leak out pretty quickly. I changed the brakes once, but was so terrified I had screwed up that whenever I got behind the wheel that I just resigned myself to the possibility that this is how I will die. The only success that I have had with cars is taking things off of them and getting by without those parts. I took off the ignition lock and used a screwdriver for a key for years. I realize that things do make sense in the world of automotive repair, but it just doesn’t make sense to me.

I had to go out today and when I returned, I noticed that there was a trail of something leaking from under the car. I looked underneath the car with a flashlight and saw that there was what appeared to be fresh oil near that bolt and washer thingy. Well, I popped the hood and giggled a couple of wires and turned the dipstick to the left. The engine started, but I think I will wait until tomorrow morning and see if there is a pool of oil under the car.

I am going to ask you to keep your fingers crossed for me and it wouldn’t hurt to say a prayer to whatever God you happen to worship. Even though I am not Catholic, I am going to do a shout out to Saint Jude, the patron saint of lost causes.