Dipsticks

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Where’s the dipstick?

The Road to Hell is Paved With Good Intentions. – Proverb

In 1998, I was 21 years old and absolutely tired of having to pay $30 of my hard earned money on oil changes for my car.

As a man without many means, I decided one Spring afternoon that I was going to save the money and do the oil change myself. Well, not myself. I was going to get my friend, the manliest friend I had, to do it for me while I took the credit for doing it myself. So, I picked up my manly friend and we drove to the auto shop where he directed me on what to purchase for this manliest of tasks. I proceeded to buy $20 in oil, a $5 filter and $3 oil pan, and $50 on two heavy duty metal front tire ramps, so that I could get the car high enough off the ground to successfully perform this arduous task. After spending $78 in order to save $30, I was feeling rather good about myself. So far, so manly, I thought.

“You drive the car onto the ramps, and I’ll navigate you,” said my manly friend, in the residential parking lot by my townhouse. He exuded confidence in his tire ramp navigational abilities as he shotgunned a Killian’s Irish Red lager.

Unnerving is the best way to describe trying to drive a car onto ramps that you cannot see, and that your manly friend insists is just a few inches away from your tires. This is a high stakes game of auto Russian roulette. One false move and any part of the car other than the tires will be resting on these unforgiving ramps.

“Almost there,” said my manly friend. “You almost have it.”

“Are you sure?” I asked. “If I miss these ramps the repairs are going to cost more than a do-it-yourself oil change will.”

“Bro,” he said. “I do this shit all the time.”

After unsuccessfully managing to do this seemingly manageable task, he finally offered to do it for me, which was my goal all along. Out of pity and an alpha male need to show me what’s up, my manly friend and I swapped places, and I was ready to watch the master at work.

Moments passed.  The anticipation was excrutiating!  He’d slowly maneuver the car forward as I modified the ramps in front of him. Then, after realizing they were not properly aligned, I requested that he back the car up slightly as I re-modified the ramps. This went on for an hour as several neighborhood onlookers stumbled onto their front lawns to watch the humiliating proceedings unfold.

“I think those ramps aren’t wide enough for your tires,” said one neighbor. “Your tires are Pirelli’s and those Italian bastards make their tires fat.”

That made absolutely no sense to either me or my manly friend. Italians make their tires fat? We dismissed his claim as nothing more than a drunken outburst until we realized that he was actually making a valid point. My tires were too fat for the ramps.

Frustrated, I had no choice but to give my neighbor an acknowledging nod of my head as he smiled and walked back into his townhouse. “Arrogant bastard,” I whispered to my manly friend.

After two hours of unsuccessfully getting the car on the ramps, and spending $78 on auto parts, and $6.99 on a six pack of Killian’s Irish Red Lager, I meekly called my mechanic and made an appointment for an oil change the following morning.

When it comes to manliness, it’s the thought that counts, right?

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