I am not a car mechanic. I hate working on cars – hate it. Loathe it. I would rather endure a seven-hour lecture from Fran Drescher on knitting than work on a car. That said there are a few basic auto-maintenance tasks that a man should be able to navigate with no trouble whatsoever.
Among these are: Fill the gas tank, fill the washer/wiper tank, top off the radiator, check the oil, change the oil, change the oil filter, change the air filter, change the wiper blades, change a tire, and replace the battery. Until a couple of weeks ago all of those tasks were on my radar list of “easy-peasy” items I could perform. In fact most of the women I know could negotiate these tasks with little to no trouble. (Let’s save the gender role discussion for another day).
As circumstance would have it, my date with the automotive urologist had been scheduled. We have a 1997 GMC Sonoma pick-up that we had promised my youngest daughter she could use for her vehicle when she started driving. It had been sitting idle for about a year and was in need of a few things to get it running properly again. The first item on the agenda was a new battery. Pssssht. No problem. At least so I thought.
We let Katie get some “skin in the game” by having her purchase the battery. I, being the macho he-man daddy-hero would install it for her. The style of battery in this truck has the “recessed” posts on the side of the battery rather than the old top posts with cable clamps. I started by attempting to remove the positive connection, but it was really tight so I removed the negative side first. I went back to the positive side which is where the real fun began.
That connection was locked up worse than a cheese-tasting judge at a Wisconsin county fair. I tapped it with a screw driver which eventually lacerated my thumb. SON OF A!!! Perfect. Talk about "skin in the game"!!!
So back to the siezed-up battery connection...I poured 7-up on it. I poured baking soda and water on it. I sprayed it with WD-40. I yelled obscenities at it (and its mother). I did everything short of a rain-dance to try and get that sucker broke loose. Nothing. Not a squeak. Not a peep - just this stupid sheep.
In my frustration with both my lack of mechanical engineering prowess, and my depleted testosterone levels, I threw the channel locks at the battery muttering/grunting the f-bomb in slow extended and exagerated fashion as it flew towards its target. Crunch! Plastic battery housing flew into several pieces as the channel locks lay lodged in between what was left of the battery and the radiator. Like a menstruating adolescent I stormed into the garage to plot my next move and reward my lunacy with a cold beer.
As I studied the fallout from my fit of foolishness I noticed a new strategy had emerged. Seeing that the housing was so brittle I determined I could cut the post out and attack the post connection with channel-locks in both hands to leverage the post cap off. I tried the hacksaw first. Nope. Then I tried the serrated sheet-rock saw. Nope. Finally I attacked it with the pruning loppers which proved to be my first real good decision of this entire process. It went through the plastic like a food processor going through an avocado.
Once I had extracted the positive post from the battery housing I could now lift it free of the engine bay and concentrate my efforts solely on the cable/post connection. This proved to be every bit as frustrating as the rest of the task to this point. More soda. More WD-40. Less progress. Dammit!
On to plan C or D. Katie called one of her classmates who loves working on cars, batted her baby-blues and Voi-la! A spliced cable connection and juice route for the new battery. Wow. 18 year old kid shows old geezer the ropes on changing a battery – how humbling – how humiliating. What the heck!???!!! Eventually the battery was installed and the truck she runs...with issues.
What can we take from this malaise of machinery misfortune? We all have our strengths and weaknesses, and if we are willing, we can learn something from just about anyone. Over the years, I have learned many things from people several years my junior. Sometimes they took a real power-trip from it, others extended pity and disdain, while others were gracious and helpful. Regardless, I usually come out on the other side a better human being even if only in some very small ways.
And what was my Heavenly Father allowing me to learn personally from this grandiose experience? I think I walked away with a greater understanding that I don’t have to be the stud of every pasture. Sometimes I can just be the gelding grazing on some green oats letting the wind blow through my mane. What a joy to know that even in my worst moments He speaks to me, loves on me, and lets me live another day to try, try, try again.
Humbly His...still. I need more of Him...still.