I’m not like other men. Whatever gene it is most guys are born with that allows them to enjoy sports and do mechanical-type things like fix cars and hang what-not shelves is probably missing from my DNA. I can change a flat tire and, if my life depended on it, I could probably change my car’s oil, but beyond that I generally don’t mess around with trying to repair my own vehicle. My father use to chastise my lack of interest in learning how to fix my car when I was a teenager; usually while he was struggling to put new brake shoes on it as I “assisted” him by handing him whatever tool he was asking for.
“If you don’t learn how to fix your own car,” he’d say between grunts, “Then you’ll have to pay other people to fix it for you. Think of how much money I’m saving by putting these brake shoes on instead of paying some mechanic to do it.” A reasonable argument if you’re mechanically inclined, which I’m not. Which isn’t to say that my father was all that inclined himself. The money he saved was easily offset by the sheer numbers of hours he’d end up investing in the task. Usually the better part of a day or two. He didn’t do his own stuff for the sheer joy of it like some car guys I know, but out of a sense of saving money. Still, he was much more of a car guy than I was in that he subscribed to magazines such as Hotrod and Kit-Kar and dreamed of building his own souped up road monster someday. I didn’t have any such dreams. My plan was to have a decent enough job that I could afford to pay someone else to fix my car and that’s what I’d reply with whenever he made statements like the above. For that matter, it’s generally what I’ve done.
Still, there are some problems that seem so exceedingly simple to deal with that it seems somewhat irresponsible to pay someone else to fix them. Stuff like my current problem of a car with a possibly bad battery. I’ve already described the problem in an earlier entry and based on my experience with it I had concluded that it was probably a bad battery rather than, say, a faulty alternator. There’s no way in hell you’d get me to try and replace a faulty alternator even if you were threatening a gory death to my family. I’ve watched both my father and my uncle try and replace an alternator before, once on a Chevette I had as a teenager, and death would be preferable to going through what they went through especially knowing I’d fuck it up in the end. But a bad battery should be no big deal, right? I mean, it’s a battery for chrissakes. It has a positive cable and a negative cable and as long as you don’t mix those up it should work just fine, right? I manage to swap all kinds of other batteries in other devices without too much injury so this shouldn’t be all that different, right? Right?!?
So I squeezed myself into my wife’s Saturn where upon I suddenly remembered why I stopped buying smaller four cylinder cars for myself (I always feel like I’m driving a go-cart) and hustled my ass over to the local Murray’s Discount Auto store to buy a battery. Then the helpful sales lady had to dent my confidence by asking, “Are you sure it’s the battery?” Well, no, of course I’m not one hundred percent sure it’s the friggin’ battery. I’m a friggin’ computer geek! So she mentions they’ll do a free test of the battery and the alternator and some other random electrical car stuff if I can drag the car up to the store.
So I squeezed back into my wife’s car and came home. Before going upstairs to wake her up so I could jump my vehicle and have her follow me back to the store I decided on a whim to see if my car would start. It did, barely. So I headed back over to the store. One of the nice sales people came out and hooked up a device to my battery and it said it had a bad cell in it someplace. Then he asked me to start the car, which, of course, it wouldn’t. He was pretty sure it was the battery, though, so I went into the store and bought a new battery. After loading it into the backseat I was about to head back into the store to let them know I was ready for them to jump start the car (another free service they offer) when, again on a whim, I tried starting the car once more. With an effort of herculean proportions the car did slowly crank over and start. So I came home.
Then I was hungry so I came inside to get something to eat before trying to install the new battery, which brings me to where I am now. I have the new battery sitting in the car waiting for me to get up the nerve to try and install it. I’ve actually opened the hood and looked at where the battery is supposed to go and it doesn’t look too challenging, but I’m doubting my own abilities. I didn’t think hanging that what-not shelf would be too hard until I managed to put the hammer head through the wall with what I thought was a “light tap.” I’ll probably go out and try it after I finish writing this entry, but I know I’m not going to enjoy it. I hate this kind of stuff. Give me a broken PC and I’ll tear into it with a confidence and enjoyment unrivaled, but car repairs… yuck.