Greasing the Skids

Greasing the skids.  That’s what we used to call it.  When you had a hard job to do, you made sure to ease the hardship beforehand.  The saying comes from the days of using levers and rails to move heavy objects from one place to another, much like the launching of a ship for the first time.  If the skids down which the ship had to slide had some friction reducing material on them, it was much less likely that it would need any assistance once it started down the incline to the water.  They greased the skids.  I’m realizing that we still do that in many unseen and, perhaps, mysterious ways.

The message she sent me yesterday told me that Newton’s First Law of Motion was being manifested in our air conditioner’s compressor unit.  Well, those weren’t the exact words of the message, but she meant to say that.  “I’m afraid we’re having AC problems over here.”  That was the precise wording.

I was recovering from one of my guilt-induced exercise sessions (two pieces of pie on my birthday!) and so, took a little extra time to wander over to the music store where she was working.  When I finally went over, I took in the situation fairly quickly.  The breaker had popped and flipping it back on didn’t produce any discernible result.  I checked the compressor unit outside and finding that the fan wasn’t spinning, stuck a stick through the grill and gave it a shove.  It began to whirl and kept going.

Yep.  First Law of Motion:  Objects at rest tend to stay at rest.  Objects in motion tend to stay in motion.  That’s a slight oversimplification, but it will serve.  What had happened was that the start/run capacitor had burned up.  That was probably immediately obvious to all of you readers, was it not?  Okay, perhaps not.  Let me explain.  The capacitor is an electronic component which stores up energy and releases it at prescribed times to assist with overcoming inertia.  Like the stick I used, it gives a push to the motor to get it spinning at the same speed as the current which then keeps it spinning.  The advantage over the stick is that I don’t have to stand out there and push it every time the air conditioner kicks on again.  The other thing the capacitor does is to assist during the run cycle by releasing current at appropriate times.  This allows the fan motor to run more efficiently and quietly.

I called the heat & air repairman today.  After I corralled the black monsters in the back yard (to keep them from licking him to death), the young man removed the old capacitor and brought it inside to show me what had gone wrong.  A small snake had slithered up into the control cavity on the unit and, obviously thinking that the top of the capacitor would be a fine place to take a nap, coiled itself around the terminals on top of the little unit.  It wasn’t a beneficial decision for the snake or for me.  By interjecting itself between the capacitor and the leads to the motor, the creature took the full voltage through its body, shorting out the component and killing itself in the process. It wasn’t a pretty sight.  We replaced the part.

As I sit here in the cool of my office, I am grateful for the start/run capacitor, which I normally don’t think about at all, but which is assisting me all of the time that the air conditioner is running. I have to wonder–what else do I not know about that makes my life easier every day?  I suppose my computer is full of things like this.  My car also must have a few such components.  I imagine that if I look hard enough, I’ll find similar helpful items on almost everything I use.

I also wonder if I’ve been obvious enough to clarify any confusion about the direction I’m headed with this.  You see, it turns out that we don’t just have the assistance of inanimate objects in most human endeavors.  We depend on each other–more than we know or suspect.  There are many people who grease the skids for us.  We couldn’t function without them.  Perhaps, it would be more accurate to say that we would operate much less efficiently (and slowly) without them.  And, most of the time, we don’t even know that they exist.  We count on them and don’t even have an inkling.

Which brings us to the snake.  Ah yes, the snake.  I wonder–am I the only one who thinks it apropos that the culprit was a snake?  The imagery could not have been more apt if I had tried to fabricate the example.  The conception of the snake as the enemy of man and God is ingrained deep within most of us.  That a little serpent should come between the two necessary components in the process makes perfect sense, to me at least.  It seems that it takes the tiniest of problems to cause the immense gulf which can separate us from each other, doesn’t it?

I’m not sure how much further I need to expound on this thought tonight.  If the only thing that can be absorbed is the clear lesson about human relationships, it will be enough.  True, there is more that could be said, especially regarding spiritual matters, but we’ll leave that for the reader to work through.  Perhaps a reminder about the role of the serpent in the original rift between the Creator and his creation will be enough of a nudge to head you off in the right direction.

Got a ship to launch anytime soon?  I’m confident that a little attention ahead of time to the niggling details will make the launch more successful.

A little grease couldn’t hurt, anyway.

“Great opportunities to help others seldom come, but small ones surround us every day.”
(Sally Koch)

“But I am afraid that, as the serpent deceived Eve by his craftiness, your minds will be led astray from the simplicity and purity of devotion to Christ.”
(2 Corinthians 11:3~NASB)

© Paul Phillips. He’s Taken Leave. 2013. All Rights Reserved.

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