Nirvana...and not the grunge kind neither.
Some have certainly accused me of being a few chicken McNuggets shy of a Happy Meal, but everyone has different things that turn them on. Since Kali is doing a fantastic job on the other kind, I'll say that "turn ons" in this case can be used interchangably with "interests".
I work a technical job all day long, thinking hard, more or less, with nothing physical to show for it. Grinding away on a computer, sending e-mail, making phone calls. While this may create a nice bank account, for a guy like me it lacks satisfaction. I need something I can get my hands on. For fun, I work on cars.
A sunday afternoon garage session is all fine and good. A couple of buddies come over and you wrestle an engine back into the car. Jokes and stories fly around about the time when someone did something or another. Thats all fine, but I like the late night solo thrash.
Normal folks are asleep, or at least nestled in front of the TV for the night. I slip on my coveralls, put on some music, rockabilly is best in this case, and set to work. It's peaceful. Occasionally, the clink of a wrench slipping out of my hand and hitting the ground, but otherwise quiet. Parts are assembled into components, components assembled into things. There is order. There is organization. Lying on the cool concrete floor on my back while I nudge that transmission back into its slot with my knees, a healthy clunk, then click as it notches into place. Fit. Just as it should be.
This is what mechanical things are folks. Metal. Oil. The smell of a freshly painted engine block that hasn't yet been fired. Tab A fits into slot B, but it ALWAYS takes more time and effort that expected. Making them fit together without turning it into a nasty hack job is what separates the faithful few from the legions of butchers that mangle things beyond recognition.
Sure, assembly line workers might have stuffed that same transmission into this car 50 years ago in Detriot and never thought a thing about it, but they made thousands of cars and it only had to just go together. It had to work, but it didn't have to be "right". This one is being assembled by hand, with love and care, to be perfect. The reward is nothing more than a job well done and maybe, if you're lucky, a few more horsepower or a shifter that feels just a wee bit better than the others as it slots into gear at the stoplight. Every single time that shifter moves, you know that you built the gearbox on the other end. It's yours.
Finally, it's together. The last nut is tightened, the oil is checked, the lights all work. It's late, much too late to go for a test drive, but I'm done. Lean back against the bench, pieces of rust and dirt in my hair, in my ears. A big sitcom smudge of grease on my face where I wiped the sweat off with a dirty hand. Take a look.
For better or for worse, I did it. If it falls apart, there's no one to blame but me.
To be continued...
Johnny Cash - One Piece at a Time