“Honey, my truck is bleeding,” I announced as I came in the front door the other day.
“What do you mean your truck is bleeding?” replied my redhead. (That is what I call my wife, which is quite a coincidence because her hair is red!)
“It is leaking this red fluid all over the driveway. I think that it nicked a major artery.”
My redhead has this rare medical condition that presents itself as follows: I will make a comment about something; she will heave a big sigh and role her eyes into the back of her head as though I had said something stupid. She started having one of her fits now (poor thing).
It’s not blood, you idiot,” she replied. (That’s what my redhead calls me.) “If it’s red it’s probably transmission fluid.”
“Is that something that the truck really needs?” I asked.
“Only if you want the transmission to work,” she replied.
It took my redhead several years after we were married to come to grips with the fact that I am not the most mechanically adept of people. Fixing things and building things and remodeling things has never been my “thing”. My knowledge of automobile mechanics is solely limited to putting air in the tires, and the first time that I attempted that, I turned blue and almost passed out. Then my redhead told me that there was a machine that I could hook up to the tire that would actually pump the air directly into it for me.
Red, on the other hand, is quite comfortable with her head under a car hood, and mechanics away like a maniac, tools flying about as she welds gaskets or hammers batteries or does whatever she does under there. For her sake I always try to sound knowledgeable when we talk about such things.
“Hummmm,” I replied thoughtfully. “I think we really should keep that transmission thing working properly. What do you recommend?’
“Let me go out and take a look at it,” she answered.
I walked out to the driveway with her where a big puddle of red, oily fluid had collected under my pick-up. She bent down and stuck her finger in the puddle. She actually stuck her finger INTO the puddle! YUCH!! She rubbed the fluid between her fingers.
“Yep. It’s transmission fluid,” she declared.
Then she got down on the ground and kind of scooted under the truck. She emerged a moment later and brushed herself off as she stood.
“It looks like the transfer case is leaking.”
“Do you want me to go get your hammer?” I asked.
She did the heavy sigh, eye-rolly thing again. I really do wish there was some kind of medication she could take to help her control her fits. She says that vodka is about the only thing that helps, but she used up the last of that the other day when I dropped my cell phone into the toilet and got my hand stuck trying to fish it out.
“No, you idiot,” she said. “We are going to have to take this to a mechanic.”
Now, there are a couple of reasons why the words, ‘We are going to have to take this to a mechanic’, are enough to induce cardiac arrest in me. The first reason is that I have absolutely no idea what they are talking about when they are explaining to me the multitude of mechanical defects that are rife in my vehicle. They may as well be speaking Greek. The worst part is that I have to pretend like I DO know what they are talking about! Some good ol’ boy named Joe (name above the pocket on his greasy black coveralls) will come up to me holding a grease covered hunk of metal.
“Here’s your problem,” he will say. “Can you believe the condition that baby is in?! I am surprised you didn’t have to tow your truck in.”
“Yeah. Wow!” I reply, trying to sound like a good ol’ boy myself. “That is one of the worst looking….um….one of those that I have ever seen.”
“I can have a new one in for you by Friday,” Joe will inform me, (today being Monday) “and it will only cost you $650 bucks.”
“Well, that’s quite reasonable for a new….um….one of those,” I reply.
This leads into the second reason why I dread going to a mechanic. Nothing ever costs anywhere close to the amount of money that I actually have in my bank account. Why should I have to sell a kidney to pay for a new bulb for my left turn signal? I mean, I understood it in the old days when turn signals required expensive blinker fluid, but I happen to know that all vehicles manufactured after 1995 no longer utilize fluid technology. Today’s automotive technology requires a simple $75 an hour computer analysis and a three hour phone consultation with the manufacturer to determine that the bulb is burnt out. Then it is a simple two-man job to replace the bulb. The whole thing shouldn’t take more than a day at the most. Yet, it will be two days and $495.50 later before I can drive away secure in the knowledge that I can now make left turns in complete and utter safety.
Anyway, we made an appointment with the mechanic for the following day. Red came with me when I dropped off the truck. Ever since the turn signal incident, she has to tag along whenever I take a vehicle in for repairs. She sits there next to me muttering under her breath. I can make out certain words like, “idiot,” and something about money growing on trees. I have heard that some women will get this way when they are going through the “change,” so being the kind, gentle and understanding husband that I am, I just let her mumble.
We pull the truck into the mechanics bay and Red gets out to talk with Joe. I let her do all of the talking because she speaks the language.
“Yeah, it's leaking fluid from the transfer case, and GREEK GREEK GREEK GREEK GREEK,” she tells him.
“Well,” says Joe, “I can GREEK GREEK GREEK, but if GREEK GREEK, then I’ll have to GREEK GREEK GREEK GREEK GREEK.”
“How much will this run us?” Red asked.
Joe looked longingly in my direction. “Maybe I should talk to your husband,” he said.
“HEAVENS NO!” replied Red.
After some negotiating in which I am sure I was spared my last remaining kidney, we leave the truck at the garage and catch a ride home with Joe’s assistant - a nineteen year old kid who confused us with someone who actually enjoys listening to P-Diddy and Snoop Dog at 120 decibels.
I really am lucky that Red is as knowledgeable as she is about auto mechanics. I think I will have to do something extra special for her for our anniversary. In a couple of months we are going to celebrate our fiftieth wedding anniversary. We have only been married twenty-eight years, but I heard that the fiftieth celebration is a real “barn-burner,” so I decided that we would do that one next. Maybe I will get her a new hammer and maybe a jigsaw. Then next time we can fix our own transfer case thingy!