14 April 2013

Oil Change

"It is my life goal to change my own oil today."
The guy at the auto parts store stared back at me, a little befuddled, but willing to hear me out. 
I had, of course, run into another snag trying to change the oil in the mini.

I guess I should start at the beginning.  I have some admissions here, dear readers, admissions of ineptitude.  But, never stop learning, right?
Back in the fall I decided that changing the oil in the mini would be a project that would help me bond with the me car and was some preventative maintenance that surely I could handle. 
Well, so, I thought.
I was full of fire and motivation one day and went out to buy the necessary items.  Bottle jack, jack stands, and fancy oil in tow, I returned ready to get this oil changing party started. 
Okay, so after I figured out how to use the jack, I placed it in what I thought was the right spot.  Well.  "What I thought" is the key phrase in this sentence. 
Everything was going swimmingly, the car was going up, my mouth sagged in amazement at my accomplishment.  That was, until the car suddenly began to drift back toward the ground.  Perplexed, I discovered that I had placed the jack in the exactly wrong place and it was now poking through the foot well. 

Panic ensued and I did manage to get the jack out from under the car.  Someone strong walked by and picked it up for me.  In my panic, I unscrewed the jack too far and hydraulic fluid spilled all over the place.  So, now I was left with broken jack and a perfect hole in the bottom of the car.  (Original confession here)

Thoroughly discouraged, I abandoned the project.  It was time for the mini to hibernate anyway. 

Then spring had come to the forest, and my goal was renewed. 
I took the mini to my dads work where they had ramps.  Forget you, bottle jack!  I have ramps now.  Happily, I did not ruin the car putting it on the ramps and, it fit perfectly! 
Okay.  Oil pan lined up and ready to go, I went to remove the oil plug.  I have a lot of wrenches or whatever they're called and I did not have one big enough.  Ready to give up again, I ran right to the auto parts store and a kind man helped me find what I needed. 

I returned victorious, opened the oil thing right up with my new wrench and off it drained.  Hooray!  It will not surprise at this point to tell you that I could not get the old filter off.  At all.  But, it has new oil, and that's what matters, right?
Goal fulfilled (mostly).  Here's to another 3000 miles!

06 April 2013

Jack Stands

Once I was asked what kinds of things I had learned from this line of work.  I was asked in a very philosophical way by someone who doesn't understand this job at all.  Maybe he was being nice, but I found him trying.  The first things that came to mind did not include a deeper understanding of my fellow man, a closer relationship with God, or insights into the meaning of life. 
What came to me were the practical things.  For example, don't climb a ladder with a saw in your hand.  Don't climb a ladder without someone holding the bottom.  Don't climb ladders.  Life is better when you don't do drugs., but do take your medication.  Don't drive motorcycles while drunk.  Don't drive motorcycles without a helmet. Don't drive motorcycles. 
Knowing full well these were not the answers this person was looking for made them all the more satisfying to me.  He returned this sound advice with a blank stare.  You're welcome.  
Not to say you can't learn a lot of philosiophical stuff at this job.  In fact, I will certainly attest that my experiences on the job have shaped my relationship with God and the universe.  But I really enjoy the tangible lessons.

In fact, recently the lesson of using proper jack stands was reiterated to me.  This was when an enterprising young man decided to fix the front quarter panel of his car by himself.  He used the flimsy factory standard jack, took off the wheel and at that point was probably feeling quite proud of himself (I would have).  He then sat with his legs out under the car and attempted to manhandle the panel back into place.  This shook the car, dipslaced the jack, and sent the car in a slow motion and unstoppable fall onto his leg.  He was then pinned by the brake rotor at an odd angle and was potentially in a heap of trouble.  Happily he had his cell phone within reach and the car was deftly lifted off of him by the fire department within 10 minutes.  He didn't break his leg which was good news indeed, but did take a trip to the hospital.   He did not know what a jack stand was.  He does now.

What kinds of things have you learned from the job?