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That time I nearly killed myself

I am a mechanic and obviously handy with my hands so I like to do things myself, never by hiring a professional. If something mechanical is broken, and it doesn’t have to be a car, I can fix it. Some people are that versatile and I like to think that I am one of them. Some things like a refrigerator or a stove may be beyond my capabilities, but frankly they never break down in my house so I have yet addressed the question of whether or not I can do it. If they did stop functioning, I might say to myself, “stick with cars.” But right now, I am waiting for the chance to prove I have the skills to be a Mr. Fixit around the house and yard. Not many frankly have the time or inclination. Some things are a real challenge and require some research and a little help from an expert. Then I am on my own and give it a go. But there was that one time that I nearly killed myself. I am referring to wracking my brain for the right knowledge.

The latest think to go on the fritz in my environment was the above ground pool cleaner. I have a nice pool in my backyard and it is easy to keep clean with this device. When it broke, I knew it was for good and no repair job was going to fix it. It would be like putting Scotch tape on a leaking faucet. Sometimes you have to buy something new. The pool vacuum was not an expense I wanted to make. I thought that I could build one myself. It looked like a fairly simple device. The problem was that I had no instructions. So I took apart the broken vacuum and went to the hardware store to buy comparable parts. I also had to go to the pool supply company several miles away to supplement. It was a lot of running around. Why on earth did I start this project. But I was on a roll.

I got the brochure for the broken pool vacuum and could determine from operation instructions how to put things together. It was all about a tiny motor and a suction device. It was like those mini robots you see in houses except that it was for a pool. It looked like it was swimming about on its own. How did it find the right direction? It had some kind of navigation device. I started to flounder. This is the part where I say I was killing myself. I had to use my ingenuity for sure. I sat for hours analyzing the old parts to determine how this thing propelled itself. After a few attempts, I got the new vacuum built and the motor was fine. The suction was perfect. It took a day more to get the directional part solved, but finally I did it. You might say it is the magic of trial and error.

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Finding a Needle in a Haystack

I have been busy as a bee working on my old Dodge Charger—I am of course a mechanic. I love the trade and look for opportunities to help myself and other people. There is always something that goes wrong with older cars and you need to constantly search for parts. Some are hard to find and they come from all over the world if they are rare. These tough-to-locate entities tax my patience but it is a doable task online. People avail themselves of various sites that appeal to mechanics and auto collectors alike. Some antique stores like the ones shown on the cable TV show American Pickers have plenty to choose from. The guys on the show specialize in what they call transportation Americana and this means motorcycles and cars for the most part. The owners can find a needle in a haystack so you can rely on them to have or get what you want.

After a hard search for parts for a friend’s old car, I made the repairs for which he was eternally grateful. Thanks are good enough for me but he insisted in giving me a gift of a small inflatable boat. It can be used for fishing on a lake or perhaps for water recreation for kids on a river or in the ocean. It is uncomplicated but well-made and very durable. It is easy to inflate with an air pump and deflate by opening the valve. I will be able to store it easily when folded. I have just the spot in the garage amid all my own parts and the Charger.

All the neighborhood kids want to borrow the boat. Most can use it now in the backyard pool. They sit in it and row about and can even eat and drink while floating. It is rather cute when filled with happy youngsters. I will perhaps try it out soon myself; not sure where. I have a river camping trip looming in the distance and this might be a good time. Yes, it is small but I will be happy to ride alone. It is relaxing and I can listen to some music and enjoy a few snacks and a few beers. I will float in the scenic surroundings of the river and then return to my campsite for a fire-cooked meal. I love outdoor activities and the inflatable boat gives me one more option. I can lie back and view the azure sky and puffy white clouds above. The boat can hold two people if they are of normal weight and size. There might not be oodles of leg room but there are cushioned seats so your feet will hit the boat floor. I am appreciative of the thoughtfulness of my friend and for selecting such a clever gift. He knows what I like and found the perfect thank you present. I have some photos of me in the boat to show him.

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Beatin’ the Heat

I am an auto mechanic and long-time, true car show enthusiast in Dallas, Texas. My old Dodge Charger is my pride and joy. Needless to say it gets the bulk of my free time and attention. Give me a couple of hours on the weekend to do the job. Restoring and maintaining it is my passion. With all that I have done to it, it is now a luxury car end to end. It has every accoutrement it requires to be authentic. There is a great joy in working with classic cars that is like no other. If you have one, you are a fellow traveler—so you know the score. We share the same spirit. Caring for them is a challenge and requires a certain skill that you learn over time as you enhance the restoration. Join the fun and give it a whirl. Ordinary cars give me no great satisfaction. Anyone can give them a new shine or set of wheels. I go for the kinds of cars you see at classic car shows so I can admire the handiwork of others. I approach the owners with intensity and ask a lot of questions. I learn how this and that were done to such perfection. It is a mutual admiration society.

There is nothing that draws me in faster than a local car show. I am never absent You never know what you may find. If you are lucky there will be some gems. Maybe not on a par with my Dodge Charger, however, but eye-catching nonetheless. I attended a recent show a while back on a particularly hot summer day. I was loath to fry in the intense heat of the penetrating sun. I took a beach canopy with me and set it up like a tent for protection. I am sure it looked a bit odd. “Think it’s the beach,” smirked one passerby. “Need some sand?” said another. It was all in good fun since the canopy was meant for the sandy terrain of the shore. What got protected was the Charger, not just me.

So I set up my little encampment and went about safeguarding the Dodge’s shiny new coat of paint. This was my home base as I wandered about the car show looking for special attractions. I checked out all the cars that met my specifications of interest and then returned to check out the Charger and make sure it was still intact. I was pleased to see so many people gathered about it under the shelter of the canopy. It lured the sun avoiders and let them get a closer look. The canopy was a kind of frame for the car and set it off from the rest of the car show entrants. The car is a lure in itself in any case and never fails to gather a following. I am thrilled they can relate to my handiwork. I get a lot of pride from their praise.

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Shop Protection

It was a lazy January afternoon and the bad weather had abated for a while. A few of the mechanics in the shop were taking a short break outside while others were finishing up some last minute jobs. It would be closing time in two hours and we are looking forward to going home.

Suddenly you could hear the screech of tires and the crash of metal. It came out of nowhere and jarred our souls. The quiet of the shop was rudely broken. A rogue car was in our midst. It hit the side of the shop because it was going too fast to stop on a dime.

Two masked gunmen emerged from the smoking auto. They waved pistols in the air and we froze in our tracks. One of the men addressed the working mechanic nearest them and mumbled something about the safe. Cash was all we could make out. We mustered the courage to respond and tried to calm the jostled men’s nerves before they started shooting. They seemed out of control and desperate. No doubt on drugs.

Manny, one of the mechanics, went into the office and approached the safe. He knew it didn’t contain much cash as this was not the nature of our business. Would the gunmen retaliate? Would they be angry and incensed? We feared for our lives. He got an idea. He asked each of us to pool our cash and then threw it aggressively at the robbers. This is all we got, he stammered. They looked at him aghast. Crashing their car and committing a felony for a few hundred dollars!

One of the gunmen grabbed the cash, looked into the safe to retreat a few hundred more, and made a bee line to the car. Miraculously it started and they sped off. No one moved for several minutes. We caught our breaths.

In broad daylight such violations can and do occur. It is brazen to be sure. We all discussed the matter and felt that investing in a small gun safe was in order and several small firearms to go in it. We assigned the job of purchasing appropriate weapons to Alec and the gun safe to Joe. We had to do something about employee protection. A medium size model bolted to the office wall would be a visible deterrent in the future we hoped. Plus, in the event of another invasion, we might be able to access the guns fast. We needed a quick way to open the unit and decided on fingerprint recognition. We would program the safe to accept any of our fingerprints. This would make it speedier than trying to turn a dial or press a keypad.

Robberies are scary business indeed, especially armed. For this reason we felt it appropriate to take immediate action. We did not want to face a similar situation in the future without some type of protection. It wasn’t just about the money. It is easy to part with it when facing the nozzle of a pistol. It is about the employees’ lives and well-being. We intended to be completely ready for the next possible onslaught.

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