When it comes to mechanical things and construction, I have a confession: I’m a completely useless idiot. I’m fascinated by people that are really good at working on cars and/or working on their own home projects and repairs because I honestly have no clue.
However, since I’m a guy, and I’m “supposed to know” how to do stuff like that, I have to force myself through projects (installing blinds, home theater etc) every once in a while; not to save time or money, but to literally protect my ego. Even if takes excruciating hours of trial and error, and I still only get most of the screws in the right way, I still need those occasional moments of satisfaction when I accomplished a project by myself because I’m “supposed” to.
Anyway, one of these “challenges to my masculinity” just surfaced as my mountain bike has been squealing to a point where I was going to have to force myself to take action and fix it. Since any idea of bringing it to the bike shop was completely out of the question (because I would instantly forfeit any right to refer to myself as a man in front of anyone in the store…ever again), I went out and bought myself a bottle of oil.
I was thrilled when I found the oil, as it actually had a very reassuring picture of a bike on the back of the bottle! However when I went to actually use it on my bike, I realized that it may have a picture of a bike, but it doesn’t actually show you where to put the oil, or in what amount. Is this considered common sense knowledge? But in true spirit of my personal challenge, I never asked anyone how to do it, and I didn’t even look it up online. Like the village idiot from a beer commercial, I just started randomly squirting oil on the parts I thought that “made the most sense.”
After feeling very accomplished and proudly riding down the street, the moment of truth arrived as I had to finally pump the brakes only to find out:
1: they have apparently been covered in so much oil that they’ve lost their ability to function.
2: the squealing is so much louder now, that after my first brake, I instantly had to turn around and pedal back home out of shame.
Near miraculously though, down the final stretch back home, I noticed my neighbor’s garage was open. I only see him once every few weeks or so, and so it was by sheer coincidence he had just gotten home. At first I was too embarrassed to ride by (because of the sound of my brakes), but after a brief circle, I remembered that he was one of those “handy guys” that could probably help me out.
Since I couldn’t bear the thought of hours of trial and error, internet research, or the devastation of having to load my bike into my car, take it to the shop, and endure deafening silent ridicule as the guys at the shop would probably use me as a punch line for months. “Hey, remember that guy who tried to fix his squeaky brakes by just randomly squirting oil everywhere and ended up making it worse?”
So after contemplating which option was the least horrible, it suddenly became a no-brainer, and I quickly pedaled home and flagged down my neighbor about four seconds before he was about to close his garage.
Anyway, not only is my neighbor a very nice guy, but he really is one of those “handy” guys. And as it turns out, there are actually designated spaces on the bike that you are supposed to squirt oil into while simultaneously spinning the wheels for its even distribution. Duh.
So what are the lessons learned?
1. Although I didn’t really pass my last “masculinity” challenge, I didn’t technically fail either. And when you think about it, I probably had the best possible outcome because…
2. Sometimes it’s awkward and you have to force yourself, but you should always take advantage of the opportunities to interact with your neighbors. If I would have missed that brief thirty-second window that had become available to me, it could have cost me hours, if not days of time, frustration, and embarrassment. I hope I can return the favor one day, but…
3. If you’re ever in an emergency situation with your car (for example), and you can only make one phone call, you could call me…if you need me to write a story about it. If you actually need help fixing or starting your car, I’d honestly be about as uselful as the guy in this video…