I’ve been occupied with a couple of things the last few days. I started writing an article a few days ago that I had wanted to write for a while since it deals with a subject I have been pondering for years. This article just keeps getting more complicated as I try to write it, so I stopped a few times to reclaim my head. During some of those stretches, I would go see what wars are being fought on twitter between all the intellectual heavy-weights that inhabit that bit of virtual real estate. This practice may not be one to recommend because while there is no shortage of entertaining content in these wars, there is also some terrifying potential for the future if one is a worrier.
This, of course, brings us to cars. Old cars. Well, it actually doesn’t but here we are aren’t we? I was thinking about the old guys and the way they used to do things back when I was a kid. You remember right? Back when Canadian cars showed the speed in miles instead of kilometres. In those days a good car engine would go a hundred thousand miles or so if you were lucky, and being a driver was a synonym for being a mechanic.
So I was thinking about my father-in-law who just happens to be an absolute mechanical genius. You know how when your car breaks down and it totally deflates you? Well to him that is the beginning of what is usually a short game. It really doesn’t matter what is wrong with the car. If he has a vice-grip, a screw driver, and maybe a bit of tinfoil he will probably get it back on the road. If they had taken him to Nasa, back in the sixties, we would be vacationing on Mars by now. I suspect few of the men of his youth were in quite the same league of ability as he was. I didn’t know him at the time, but I got saddled with handing tools to my father when he was on his back, under some car or other over the years.
My dad had a sort of psychic mechanical ability. Come to think of it he was pretty psychic all around. For some time he worked for the telephone company doing nothing but wire witching to reduce their outage incidents when they were digging around lines. He told me all he did was walk around the suspect area holding a copper wire with a bend to form a handle and that when he passed over a cable the copper wire in his hand would turn to follow the cable under the ground. I have tried it a few times over the years and come to wonder if he was just running a brilliant scam to carry something lighter than a shovel. Of course, that is not the kind of fellow my father was.
My dad was always trying to save money so he would usually buy cars that had a much better past than future. Within a few days, he would be underneath the car and us, sons would learn things. Each of us would learn differently according to our talents and interests. There were lessons aplenty. Which make was designed for which purpose and so on. Some better than others of course but if memory serves, the one overwhelming consistency was that the design of the cars was well thought out to make one either spend hundreds of dollars on tools or be forced to take it to a shop where they could rob you of your last dime. In any case, each of my brothers ended up learning to dismantle and reassemble nearly any car engine from start to finish as well as fix any other problem a car could have. As for myself, aptitude and ambition somewhat wanting. I came away with the ability to curse proficiently in three languages.