The very real and costly repercussions of being a Machinery Maintenance Denier.
I sat semi-patiently waiting for my friend to start his car as we were about to go to the store. He gave the key a familiar twist and the engine came to life, but something was off.
Tap, tap, tap, tap, tap….there was a tapping sound coming from the engine compartment that was too loud to be ignored. ‘What’s that sound?’ I said. ‘I duna know’ he replied in a way that both said ‘who cares’, and also ‘I know what that sound is but don’t give a shit’. ‘It sounds like your car doesn’t have any oil in it.’ I quipped. ‘Turn it off, I’m gonna check it out’ I said.
He popped the hood reluctantly and I pulled the scorched dipstick from it’s sheath. I held it up to the sunlight as a single reluctant black tar drop of molasses-like fluid dripped off the all but empty oil indicator. Shocked I began to look through the rest of the engine compartment for about 5 minutes. The jury began to roll in on the current state of neglect. The power steering fluid was also nearly empty, the cool was almost gone, and the transmission fluid looked like it had never been changed and smelled burnt.
‘You know you’re supposed to have the maintenance done right? Cars won’t just keep running on unicorn tears and good intentions.’ I said a little too sarcastically for polite conversation. ‘Nonsense’ he fired back. ‘That’s just what big auto wants you to believe! Open your eyes man!’ he pleaded.
Said eyes were opened and eye contact ensued. With no further prodding the following exchange began. ‘Big oil wants you to think that you have to constantly change the fluids and air up your tires so you’ll be reliant on them’. ‘ But you’ve never changed them….not once!’ I replied. ‘I’ve been doing it this way for years!’ he shot back. ‘But this is your 3rd car in 4 years.’ I countered. ‘The other 3 all had catastrophic failures-The van blew a transmission in the middle of a 4 state road trip, the Ford blew a head gasket in the middle of the desert in the summer, the Hyundai also blew a transmission, and you ran the Honda out of oil because you refused to ever check it’.
The finger pointing began, escalating this gentleman’s debate well out of the realm of friendly banter. Tempers flared, and windshield washer fluid jugs were spilt. I couldn’t take it anymore. I found a nearby rock and climbed upon it to use as a makeshift soapbox. ‘You sir, are a machinery maintenance denier!’ was the “mic drop” moment I used to end all debate.
This story is the heavily modified combination of about 100 conversations I’ve had over the years in varying levels of mechanical insanity. Some people just turn the radio up to cover car noises, believing in the sanctity of a “what happens in the engine compartment, stays in the engine compartment” agreement they have with their automobile. Others believe their car will grant them a pass for their past transgressions and allow them safe passage on their commute if the promise to take care of it “this year” is made. But all who have passed the threshold of modern machinery and not paid homage to the rules of maintenance have shared a similar fate-Blown head gaskets, overheated radiators, dead batteries, and seized engine internals are the price they must pay for the non-believer dom, punctuated by statements like ‘Why does this always happen to me?’.
But it doesn’t need to be this way. Man and machine can live harmoniously in sync with each other and fulfilling each other’s needs if the simple terms of the man-machine armistice are adhered to. They are as follows:
1) All fluids must be changed when recommended-No exceptions!
2) Every 5 years anything rubber will likely need to be replaced (Tires, hoses, belts, rubber grommets, and bushings).
3) Once a year, a surprise item will be sacrificed to test your resolve and see how committed you are.
In exchange for this, you will have transportation to exotic destinations both near and far, of your time and choosing, without drama or mechanical shenanigans.
Do you know a machinery maintenance denier? Tag or forward this to them so that they might mend their ways.