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Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Near Miss

“Hey, take a look at this,” a guy in his mid-thirties calls out as I’m coming out of my office.

This guy looks like he was rode hard and put away wet. He actually resembles the image of what most people think us mechanics look like all the time: grease up to our armpits, and grease smeared face and clothing. I confess I’ve gone home some days thinking I’d have to have my wife hose me off before I walked in the house; but thankfully, it’s not an everyday occurrence. I have sympathy for this guy right off the bat. He’s holding a water pump from a mid-eighties Ford Truck. It still has the clutch fan and blades connected to the front of the pump, which incorporates one of those screw on fan clutches, that over the years becomes welded with corrosion to the old water pump. Oh yea, this guy had fun getting it out like that.

“You couldn’t separate the screw on clutch fan, right?” I ask politely.

“Yea, the water pump’s leakin’, and I had to take the damn thing off like this. Can you separate it for me?”

“No…” I begin, just as the most humongous woman I have ever seen, still able to walk on two legs, waddled into the shop; and starts shouting at this guy, while he back pedals trying to calm her down. I won’t try and relate that particular conversation. After she abuses this guy for five minutes, she turns her attention to me.

“I want you to fix my truck!” She shouts. “This %*(#@&!#%& messed up my truck.”

“He was just about to help me out,” the guy pleads.

“First, Ma’am,” I add firmly, “I don’t work on anything anymore after someone else has been into it. I will give this gentleman some good advice, and he’ll be able to finish the job he started.”

“I…I need to sit down,” she says, slouching into my office, with me seriously praying I have a chair that’ll hold up.

I run in after her. I roll my desk chair over to her; which is leveled out high, and doesn’t have arms on it.

“Sit here, Ma’am, it’s more comfortable, and a bit higher for getting out of.”

She nods, and groans into it.

I prop the door open, and walk outside the office to give the guy some direction.

“You’ve already taken it off, so the real bad part’s done,” I explain. “My advice, if you don’t have a torch or an air chisel, is to simply hacksaw it at this smallest spot.”

I point to the place where he’d have the least amount of work.

“You can see the fan clutch has been leaking,” I continue. “Just unbolt the fan blades after you hacksaw the pump free, and transfer them to the new pump and fan clutch. You…”

“What do you mean I need a new pump and fan clutch?!!” The woman barks from the office. “Did he wreck my…”

“No, Ma’am, he didn’t wreck anything,” I cut her off in return. “This water pump job has to have a new fan clutch whenever the pump is replaced, and the most reliable way is to buy a Ford dealer pump and fan clutch.”

“I’m not paying a damn fortune to get...”

“You don’t have a choice,” I interject, already glad I’m not doing the job. “If you don’t buy a new pump and fan clutch, you won’t have a truck.”

“Why can’t he put the old fan clutch on?” She asks, ignoring what I said about the fan clutch leaking, and the difficulty in getting the thing off when it’s been on for twenty years.

“I understand,” the guy jumps in to save me.

“Good,” I reply. “Don’t screw on the fan clutch until you put the pump in place, and remember the thing tightens counter-clockwise instead of clockwise. It would be good to put a drop of…”

“I don’t want him doing it,” the woman calls out, shaking her head. “I’ll have it towed over here.”

“No, Ma’am, you won’t,” I state in no uncertain terms. “If you want someone else to do it, call around until you find a place who’ll take you.”

“How dare…” she begins to bluster.

“Ma’am, I’ll have to ask you to leave. I’ve told your friend here all I can. This isn’t my job, and I’m not working on it.”

“Put a drop of thread sealer on the threads,” I tell the guy quickly, and he nods. “Good luck.”

“Please,” I say, standing at the door, gesturing for the woman to move out.

“C’mon,” the guy gestures to her too. “I’ll get the pump and clutch, and get it together. Thanks man.”

“No problem,” I reply, as the woman finally teeters out, muttering unintelligibly, gracing me with a final dark look before following the back yard Bob mechanic out.

Twenty minutes of unpaid for time, a little costly.

Not having to work on that lady’s truck: Priceless! :)


Jordan Summers said...

*ggg* I'd say that you got off lucky. ;)

BernardL said...

I have learned to avoid self induced disaster over the years; unfortunately, through experience. :)
Thanks, Jordan.

raine said...

Have you ever considered running for office? ;-)

BernardL said...

LOL! Raine. Only in my writing. :)