Len Robbins: Meet a moron about machinery

Len Robbins

Contrary to what I said the other night at the pool hall, I'm not an expert on everything.

In fact, there are a lot of topics I know nothing about — like all things scientific or mathematical, English literature, the environment, finance, world geography, American literature, fashion, fine dining, culture, history, technology, world affairs, art, taxidermy, all other types of literature, anything that ends with -ography, -ometry, or -y and just about everything else.

Actually, I'm really only an expert on four subjects: Georgia Bulldog football from 1977-present; Atlanta Braves baseball from 1977-1990; and "The Andy Griffith Show."

Dang. That's just three. See what I mean about math?

Chief among the myriad areas I know nothing about is automobiles. I know how to stick the key in that thingy under the steering wheel, and I know how to put gas in it. That's about it.

Because I'm a man, or, at least, technically a man, mechanics will talk to me in this auto jargon and I'll attempt to pretend I understand what they are talking about.

"Well, see, your differential on the exhaust manifold is affecting the drag coefficient, which throws out your gear ratio," is what I hear them say. "What we're going to have to do is re-caliper your tension bar at a camber angle of 79 degrees to get your Cadillac converter straight."

"Hmm," I respond, stroking my chin, wondering to myself why a Honda needs to be converted into a Cadillac. "Sounds good to me. How much?"

It's not that I don't like cars. I love them and their ability to make me not walk. It's just that my brain is currently at maximum capacity with information about the '84 Dawgs and '78 Braves and Briscoe Darling Jr. If I were to add an encyclopedia of automotive info to my noggin, we would likely revisit the ugly scene when I memorized the Gettysburg Address and then forgot how to flush the toilet.

Anyway, being a moron about machinery leads to periodic mechanical mishaps. Example 1A happened a number of years ago.

At the time, I would go to our printer every Tuesday and wait for the paper to be printed, then bring it back to Homerville. On this occasion, it was raining and I had turned on my lights on the way to the printer. I unknowingly left the lights on as I sat in my locked car reading a newspaper, waiting on the paper to be printed.

Eventually, I finished the paper and decided to get out. I couldn't. I have power locks and the battery was dead. I tried putting the key in the thingy under the steering wheel and cranking the engine. It was dead. I fiddled with those things on the door that open everything. No dice. I then grabbed my keyless remote and pressed every button on it furiously. No luck. I was locked in my own car.

I started thinking about what I should do to get out of this mess. All I could conjure up were images of Terry Hoage and Bob Horner and Gomer Pyle. Even Gomer couldn't tell me what to do. He just does gas. I should have consulted Goober.

Don't dogs die in locked cars after five minutes? How long do humans with dog brains have?

Suddenly, I realized I had a phone. Yippee! I grabbed the phone and started to dial the nearby pressroom, then I thought better of it.

What was I going to say? Ask one of the guys from the pressroom to bring a big wrench and bust my window so I could get out?

So I sat there in my car for probably about 10 minutes, plotting an escape, cursing my ignorance.

Finally, fatigued by all this thought, I put my hands over my eyes and leaned back, which positioned my elbow against the lower, back end of the driver's side window. I heard a pop. My elbow hit a button I had never noticed before — a button which manually unlocks the doors. Freedom was mine!

Yes, I'm a nitwit. But this experience convinced me to make room in my brain for three more things:

1. If you leave your automobile lights on for a long time without the engine running, your battery will likely die.

2. That button under the window on the driver's side door can unlock your door when pressed correctly.

3. I can't remember — something about a toilet.

Len Robbins is the editor of the Clinch County News.

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