Did you take Shop? Is it offered to kids in your school district today? Most likely, the answer is no. You know the drill today: No Child Left Behind, everyone goes to college. Apparently shop class, which was for those with no chance of getting into or desire to attend college, is no longer necessary since college is for everyone now. More’s the pity, though, because things still need to be fixed. Namely, my car.
I drive a performance SUV. I love that vehicle, and I have babied it as far as maintenance is concerned. (Can’t say the same for the leather upholstery or carpet.) Now, though, it’s quickly approaching 100,000 miles on the odometer. Routine maintenance is more important than ever to keep it running like the quasi-luxury vehicle it was designed to be…just not at dealership service department prices. An oil change is an oil change, right? It doesn’t take someone certified in European auto craft to do it. What I learned after taking it to Average Joe all-purpose auto service is that lots of mechanics either don’t know a phillips from a flathead, and/or they are all out to bleed your wallet dry. Mechanics like to throw panic-laden phrases at you:
“You really need to have those brakes done NOW, before you get into a crash!!”
“That serpentine belt is really worn and cracked. It could go at any moment!!”
And they will take care of those urgent items for you, out of concern for your safety, at the low, low price of…basically a mortgage payment or the cost of a new refrigerator or a set of braces.
Enter Darling Husband, who just happens to be the handiest guy I know. He’s so tired of paying someone $5 to top off wiper fluid and $130 to change the oil, that he flips his lid and starts ordering brake pads and rotors online. Then he informs Junior that he will be learning some new life skills come the weekend, so find some work clothes. And that’s how my garage turns into Shop Class.
I’ve mentioned previously that Junior likes to be involved in projects. He’s generally happier when he’s tinkering with his fishing poles or designing some new tricked out seating for the boat than he is just hanging around watching TV. Good thing for him because this car thing had the makings of the mother of all projects. Front and rear brakes and rotors…in my garage…with simple hand tools. Even better, though, it meant father and son, working side by side for hours (upon hours!), getting their hands dirty. And when it was all over, I got new brakes at a fraction of the cost Average Joe mechanic quoted, and Junior had become more handy himself. He can now talk casually about calipers, torque, and other manly terminology. He’s my go-to guy if I get a flat tire while we’re out and about, rather than waiting 2 hours for roadside assistance.
So, the morals of the story: If you are not willing to get your own hands dirty, SuzyQ, marry a man who is handy. Yes, Junior, you still have to go to college. Darling Husband, you’re my hero. Your skills saved us a lot of $$$, and you gave Junior some valuable gifts, including practical, real-world knowledge most kids will never get and confidence in his ability to solve real-world problems. So I’m presenting you with a new blog name…Cap’n Handy. You hate it, don’t you? Well, let’s stick with it for a while and break it in.