Happiness Is Having a Truck to Work On
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Every man worth his weight in motor oil needs to own a broken-down truck that sits in the driveway, waiting to be put back together and driven until it falls apart again five miles down the road.

It doesn’t matter if the man actually knows how to repair the truck; it just matters that he has one. A truck like that builds character; it reinforces patience; it makes you understand that there are a million things in this universe that you can do and a million things you can’t—and there’s no use crying about it!

I, apparently, am worth my weight in motor oil because I own one of those kinds of trucks. And even though I bought it specifically to learn how to fix it up, thus transforming myself into a handyman when it comes to working on engines and tailpipes, it’s still just oily alchemy to me, and I will understand its workings at about the same time I understand women.

  
 
Yesterday, I tried to fix a fuel leak on my 1982 Ford Flareside F-100 Pickup. I really needed to fix an alternator problem, but the fuel leak seemed like an easier task. Someday I'll look into ripping out my transmission, tearing it apart, and wondering what in the world I was thinking of because I know nothing about transmissions, but, for now, as long as it gets me where I'm going, I don't mind the stares I get when I do a little grinding between gears.

So I tackled the fuel leak. Okay, tackle may be too strong a word, but I didn’t know that then, like I do now.

This is what happened: I had a friend look at an oil-drip problem (Yep, had an oil leak, too). Anyway, my friend showed me where it was leaking, tightened a bolt, and everything seemed to dry up—except his tightening caused a fuel leak. I deduced this because I kept smelling gasoline whenever I turned off the engine.

Okay, I’ll be honest. I smelled the gasoline, but I thought it was just part and parcel to owning an old truck. You know, you make popcorn, the house smells like popcorn. Own an old truck, it smells like gasoline and stinky feet. So the gasoline smell really didn’t bother me much until I filled my tank Thursday morning and it was empty by Thursday evening—and it had been sitting still in a parking lot all day.

My truck gets about 8 mpg, whether it's standing still or on the highway, and the thought of losing my expensive fuel because of a leak was driving me nuts.

So I asked a different friend, Ron is his name, to look at it. He's a mechanically-minded kind of guy, and he’s great at making me feel like an idiot when it comes to engines—which I am, so it doesn’t bother me much. Ron showed me where the leak was and said, "It's an easy fix. Just tighten that bolt, and you'll be good as new!"

When I got the truck home, I pulled out my tools, pulled out my oil rags, opened the hood, disconnected the big round thing from the top of the even bigger square thing, and got to work.

It only took me 10 minutes to bust a brass-colored thingamajig that screws into the really weird device that sits on top of the square thing. I knew it was broken because a part of it was in my hands and the other part was sticking out of where it shouldn’t have been sticking out of.

Try as I might, I couldn’t fix my new problem (What am I saying? I couldn’t fix the old one, either!), so I did the only thing I could do: I pulled out my cell phone and called for help.

When Ron came over, he took one look at the problem and said, “You weren’t supposed to over-tighten that bolt. Time to go to the auto parts store. Grab your checkbook.” And off we went.

Did I tell you that Ron has a way of making me feel like an idiot when it comes to working on trucks? I did? Okay then, never mind.

Two hours later, everything was back to normal. The leak is now gone, I can drive the truck instead of cursing at it, and I’ve learned a very powerful lesson: sometimes, the most important tool in your toolbox is a Fully-Charged Cell Phone.

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