So I'm kinda slowly but surely filling in the past. On my way down to Medford last week, where I had planned some time chillin' with the nephews and my ever stylin' sista, I suddenly observed some abnormal car behavior. As I exited the freeway and headed to Janet's house my car began to steer like a tank. Not exactly a cheerful situation.
After conferring with my sister and calling my dad, I ended up calling my cousin Bill who is a mechanic in Weaverville, CA. Between talking to one of his other mechanics, and later Bill himself, I discovered that the belt that controls the power-steering had snapped completely in two.
This left me with a bit of a dilemma. While our modern world of technology and convenience urged me to take it in to a shop, my wallet agreed with the counsel of my sister, effectively turning me, and by default my nephew Ryder, into mechanics for the day.
Now let me tell you straight up front that my Dad has always been very forward in his thinking regarding my abilities to understand and deal with my car. Before he would teach us how to drive he would pop the hood, show us the engine and explain to us what would happen when we first turned the key in the ignition. When one of our cars had a problem, he would take me with him to the mechanic and try to explain to me what it meant when the engine had a cracked head, or the fuel filter was faltering. He painstakingly instructed me on how to check and add oil, as well as useful things like how to change a tire and put on chains.
Way to go Dad!
Unfortunately, despite his best attempts, I'll confess that I really don't know a whole lot about the inner workings of my car. Sure, I can check the oil and top off different fluids. I've changed headlights on a couple of my cars, and added air to my tires. But beyond that, I'm pretty much lost.
While Ryder has been dying to drive a car for ages, and has his license but is waiting to have enough money to pay for insurance in order to actually use it, his knowledge of cars isn't a whole lot greater than my own. One thing he definitely has the advantage over me in, however, is strength. While it is hard for me to let them grow up, at 16 and right around 6' it is impossible to deny that, as much as my tickle attacks might still reduce him to helplessness (anyone have a keyboard that plays "Oh Susannah" so I can turn him into a banjo on my knee?) he is most assuredly stronger than I am at this point.
So if you take two very inexperienced and yet competent and intelligent people and put them in front of a car, what do you think will happen? Well, it started off with a lot of this:
Basically, a lot of standing around and trying to figure out how in the world to make the very small, very tight belt somehow stretch around three unmoving pulleys. Just so you know, brute strength won't cut it!
Needless to say, we ended up calling Bill again, and after some instructions we began the difficult and dirty task of winding our hands around tubes we knew nothing about in order to loosen screws that were undoubtedly tightened on by machines when Ryder was just a wee lad. Eventually, with the aid of some lubricant, my smaller hands that were able to fit into tighter places, and our combined weight and muscular ability, we loosened the screws enough to move the pulleys, put the belt in place, and then secure them back into almost their original positions.
Our victory lap might not have drawn quite as large a smile as the home run Ryder hit this year, but we were both pretty pleased with what we had managed to do.
At the end of the day, however, Ryder assured us that this was his first and last experiment with car care. We'll see...