Lessons Learned


Draining the motor oil out of an automobile as...

When you assume…

I have mentioned before that I’m not what you, or anyone you know, would call “handy.”  One of the problems that comes with being less than fully “ept” is that one tends to trust any man with coveralls or a tool belt to automatically know what he is doing.  I know I shouldn’t oughta, but I do. Last week I paid an annoying price and learned some valuable lessons.

I took my car to the Handy Rah Rah Oil Change-O-Rama place.  Yes, I know I could do it myself and save money.  Yes, I see how it would enhance my status as a husband to dazzle my bride with a testosterone-laden display of self-reliance.  Yes, I realize that this would be an excellent opportunity to introduce my son to the alpha-male world of auto maintenance and repair.

It’s also messy, annoying, inconvenient, and time-consuming.  Besides, I once had a bit of a problem after a home oil change.  It seems you have to get that little plug all the way in, or the car has issues.

In addition to all that, I kind of enjoy sitting in my car while competent people putter under the hood and verify that all is well with the machine.

Except that these people weren’t.  And they didn’t.

All went according to script at first. They poured fluids into my car; I poured cash into their hands.  Then they put the hood down, and uttered the magic words, “You’re all set!”

I turned the key.


You could have heard a cotton ball land in a field of marshmallows a mile away.

They worked, so to speak, on my car for an hour, trying to get me out of there.  I was told that my battery was shot—which it wasn’t—and that this happens all the time—which it doesn’t.  Someone produced a battery-charging-jumpstarter contraption that probably came free with a magazine subscription.


Finally, I suggested we call AAA.  The Oil Change-O-Rama boys were delighted.  Mr. Tow Truck Driver arrived, saved the day, fixed my car, and nearly made me weep with humiliation.  You see, I had not yet looked under the hood of my own car to see whether I could ascertain the problem.  I had assumed—bad, bad word—that the men in coveralls knew more about these things than did I.  I looked under the hood as the tow truck man looked under the hood, and I saw what the tow truck man saw.

The battery terminals were coated in fluffy, snow-white corrosion.  It looked for all the world as if Jack Frost himself had been nipping at my battery.  Using a highly specialized tool—I think he called it his “thumbnail”—Mr.TTD scraped some of the gunk off the terminals.

I returned to the cockpit and engaged the thrusters.


After accepting my babbled apologies, Mr. TTD smiled graciously, climbed back into his man-truck, and went back to the shop to amuse his buddies, family, and Facebook friends with the story of my lameiosity.

The important thing is to learn from one’s mistakes.

Lesson One: Trust No One  OK, that may be a bit extreme, but you shouldn’t assume that someone knows what he or she is doing simply because they say they do.  These were oil change guys, not fully trained mechanics.  Not even partially trained mechanics, as it turned out

Lesson Two: Fix Your Own Problems (or at least try)   At any point along this nightmarish road, I could have looked under the hood and fixed the problem, but I was content to let others deal with it for me—others who, as it turned out, were less competent than I.

Lesson Three:  Pray Without Ceasing  Believe it or not, there’s a spiritual component to all this.  A minor spiritual victory, in fact.  As I awaited Mr. TTD, I started to fume and fret about the lousy start to my weekend, and the potential expense I was about to incur.  Then I began to pray, but not about my circumstances.  See, that would be my normal pattern—and maybe yours.  I would pray about the situation, ask God to fix it, to provide, to calm me down, and all the rest.  Nothing really wrong with that; it’s just awfully me-focused.  This time, I started praying my way through history as I understand it to be.  It went something like this:

“Before creation, for all eternity, You existed.  You were perfect and complete; you needed nothing.  For reasons I can never fully understand, you chose to create beings who you could love and who might (no guarantees) choose to love you.  You knew that some would choose against you; you gave them that choice anyway.  Knowing about the Fall before it occurred, you provided a way back for those you loved…”

I got to about the Flood before Mr. TTD arrived.

To the Corinthians, Paul said that, “Our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all.”  I’ll buy that.  For one brief moment, I kept my eyes on Christ, and allowed my exceedingly light and momentary troubles to move me closer to glory.  In that parking lot, in that moment, I worshipped when I could have whined.  For about twenty minutes, my life was worthy of the calling I have received.

I’ll take it.

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