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Fixing what other people fixed the wrong way

By RICHARD SHAW
Sun Advcoate publisher

Almost anyone who has ever bought anything that is used or "previously owned" knows there are many factors involved in keeping whatever was purchased in one piece.

One of those factors is patience.

We are told our whole life what a virtue patience is. I have also been told since I was young that I have very little of it. So in my near golden years I have turned over a new leaf: I will be patient to a fault. So patient in fact that cob webs will form inside my mouth before I cuss out someone or something for making me frustrated.

That is patience in the open of course. Underneath I am a seething sea of resentment and anger, ready to burst upon the world (or whatever I am working on at the time) and destroy it with one mighty blow.

Okay that's a little much, but sometimes the frustration is beyond my ability to deal with it..

Last year I bought a used off road vehicle, which both my wife and I have enjoyed. The UTV driving experience that is very different from tooling around on an ATV. In fact, it is as different as the transition from a dirt bike to an ATV, which I was forced to experience a number of years ago because of a family intervention, banning me from riding anything on two wheels with a motor ever again. On the face of it the fear of my family was that I would kill myself and they would be left without me. However, I know the real reason motive behind their actions. No one wants to deal with all the junk I have piled in the pasture behind my house. If I was gone someone would have to go through it and get rid of it. I figure if I keep all that scrap metal, old boards, broken television sets and various other kinds of valuable stuff back there my loved ones will do everything they can to keep me alive. It is in a sense an insurance policy.

Anyway, I was in the garage working on the UTV. We had driven it a lot last fall and it was time for an oil change so true to my roots of getting my hands all dirty and greasy I decided to do it myself.

I had never pulled the cover off the engine. It had five little screws I could see. They came out easily.

"Good," I said to myself as I listened to Click and Clack on NPR in my garage.

But the cover wouldn't come off. then noticed were three more screws that I spied down plastic screw tubes; you know those six inch deep tunnels of anxiety in which you drop your screwdriver and hope it finds a bite to remove the fasteners. I got out a flashlight to look down the first one to see what kind of screw was in it. I assumed it would be a phillips head screw and it was. So I put my screwdrive down into it and it almost immediatelly bit and I unscrewed it until it was very loose. I dropped the phillips down into the second dark tube. It wouldn't bite. I tried and tried and it would connect. I got out the flashlight and all I could see was dirt down the tube. I started the compressor and shot some air into the tube and out came a huge cloud of dust.

"That'll do it," I said to myself in a semi-patient way.

I put the screwdriver back in, no luck. When I shown the flashlight back into the tube once again I could see the screw was not a phillips. It was a star pattern screw. I couldn't believe it. I searched through my tools and finally found one that appeared to be the right size and the right lengh and after a few mumbles under my breath, it started to turn.

Hooray. It was loose and only one more to go. This time I looked before I leaped. Dirt again. The air hose again. Dust everywhere. Flashlight out.

The top of this fastener was a allen head. I couldn't believe it. And I didn't have an allen wrench long enough to drop down to the top of the screw. I had to go to the store (actually three stores) to find a set that were long enough. And I had to buy the whole set. I got home and it worked.

Even with the screws removed the cover still didn't come off easily because it had two clips at the back. Finally, after three hours of working, cleaning, turning, driving, shopping, buying, working, cleaning, turning and unclipping, the cover was off.

During this whole time various words did come out of my mouth, but quietly, I was nice to the dog (and my wife) when I went in the house to get my wallet to go to the store. I was nice to the personnel at the stores I went to searching for a tool. I was even nice to the machine on which the cover was attached. There were no dented panels, no broken mirrors and no ripped up seats as there would have been in my youth ( a couple of years ago).

I had been patient. But if I could have gotten my hands on the guy who was the last to put that cover back on, it would not have been pretty.

Incidentally by the time I was ready to change the oil, it was time to go to a previous engagement. I put the cover back on (this time using all phillips head screws) and left it to sit. The next time the cover is off, it will be removed by a dealer, not me.

Now I am scared what I might find if I take that cover off and really look at what is down there, underneath it.




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