Two bolts. That’s all that held the starter on…The faulty starter that we were to take out of the mini-van and replace with a new one. The question was, could it be replaced in the one hour window of time we had available on a Saturday afternoon? We knew that those two bolts would have to be removed, the two wires to the battery and ignition would be taken loose and then the process would be reversed. That’s what? A fifteen minute job?
I hear you laughing already, at least those of you experienced in auto repair. I also have done my share of shade-tree mechanic duty and should have known better. But, as you well know, “Hope springs eternal…”, so the girl’s husband and I started the job anyway. With confidence, the appropriate wrench was applied to the first bolt, with a flippant, “Right tool for the right job.” I shoved with all my might, then put all my weight behind the shove, right before I acknowledged that it might be a long afternoon if this were to be the way of things. The bolt wouldn’t move for anything. I took a moment, quoting under my breath, “Righty tighty, lefty loosey”, making motions with my hands to be sure I wasn’t upside down in my assumption of the correct direction to loosen the bolt. No, I had it right, but was obviously unequal to the task so the young man gave it a mighty try, but still no movement. We took turns trying, but it was clear. The bolt was stuck tight. After awhile, we decide to try a little science and, remembering Archimedes and his law of levers, did some heavy duty prying, to have success! The bolt started out. Twenty minutes gone with one down and one to go. It wasn’t quite like moving the entire world, but it was a victory. We might make that sixty minute limit after all!
It was not to be. As is almost always the case in these jobs, even though the second bolt was frozen in much the same way, the same solution couldn’t be applied. There was less room, and the angle was completely different. Archie the scientist had said, “Give me a place to stand…”, but there wasn’t any room for that. There was barely room for the wrench, much less any space in which to place a lever. We struggled and struggled, each taking our turn, with a bumped knuckle here and there, along with a bit of muscle strain. Both of us were endeavoring to think of different solutions. We no longer cared if it was the “right tool for the right job”. We’d have been ecstatic to use a paint brush to get the bolt out if that would have achieved the purpose. Finally, with about five minutes left in the hour and still only one bolt loose, remembering the old Army adage, “If at first you don’t succeed, get a bigger hammer,” we managed to get a two by four piece of wood on the wrench and pounded on it until the bolt turned. Once again, success, but just a little late. The grandchildren’s dad had to get to work and we hadn’t completed the job. He stayed long enough to get the wires loose, but just couldn’t spare the time to stay and install the new unit.
I stayed to finish the job, after assuring him that the installation would be faster. Sure enough, the reverse process took less than half the time to complete. I admit to having the more enjoyable task all to myself, since it is undeniably more satisfying to do the part of the job that leads to completion than the disassembly part. Half an hour later, I was inserting the key into the ignition and turning it, to be rewarded with the pleasant sound of a starter turning and then the motor running.
I have just one question for the reader…Would it be fair for me to tell my buddies that I repaired my daughter’s car? After all, it obviously wasn’t running when the young man left. What I did made it run, so I must have fixed it, right? Nothing could be further from the truth! It’s clear that you would call this a team effort, with both of us being able to take credit, but the teamwork extends much further back than that. My friend, Mike (with some input from the Lovely Lady’s brother) helped us diagnose the problem and then purchased the starter from the dealer before his son Jason delivered it to us. Oh, and don’t forget Yukio, who built the starter motor and his sidekick Hideo, who constructed the solenoid for it. Okay, so I made those last two up. But, the list goes on and on. How many accomplishments we take credit for alone, when in reality the job was started well before we horned in on the action. We just completed the work, but seldom are we the ones who also initiated the project. I like the way Paul the Apostle said it when he told us that the one who plants and the one who waters both have the same purpose. The crop wouldn’t grow to maturity without either of them, but neither gets to claim the glory, since God is responsible for actually making it grow.
So, the car is running and I’m pleased with my part in it. The young man who’s married to my little girl should be proud of his involvement, too. But, neither of us is going to be able to claim credit for the whole job. What a great and humbling principle! All of life is a team effort.
And, I’m grateful for the reminder. The sore muscles and banged up knuckles, I could do without…
“I may be given credit for having blazed the trail, but when I look at the subsequent developments, I feel the credit is due to others rather than to myself.”
(Alexander Graham Bell~American inventor~1847-1922)
“If I have seen further than others, it is by standing on the shoulders of giants.”
(Sir Isaac Newton~English mathematician and physicist~1642-1727)