Mechanic Stepford

Growing up my dad did very little work on our vehicles. Our cars went into the shop for oil changes, repairs, and maintenance. It wasn’t that he didn’t know how to do it, it was that he didn’t want to. The way he saw it, was that he worked hard to make money to pay someone to work on the vehicles. Mechanics work on cars, he is not a mechanic. He showed us how to check the oil, taught us to get it changed regularly, and made sure we understood the importance of checking all your fluids.

When I was in college, he would pay for my car to go to the shop anytime it needed anything fixed. He wanted to make sure I had a reliable vehicle to get to and from school and work. It was great. I would call dad and tell him what was wrong, he would deposit money into my account, I would drop it off at the mechanic. Sometimes for large repairs, I would drop it off and give them dads cell phone number so they could call for the credit card when it was finished. Some people call me spoiled, I call myself loved.

It was a huge shock when I graduated school, and got married to a guy who thinks mechanic is a dirty word. We barely mention the “m” word around here unless the vehicle needs inspected or is pieces. We do it ourselves, because we like to. And by “like to” I mean we are cheap and enjoy spending our free time cursing and throwing things. Wonderful Husband is a master of all things manly and has done tons of work on our vehicles, he thinks I should help because it may come in handy in the future. Many nights have spent on the floor of my garage cursing my husband, my car, and my inability to understand anything mechanical.

While Wonderful Husband was away on his last rotation, the check engine light came on in my car. I knew something was a little off about it ever since we bought it. WH bought it, a 2005 Subaru Outback Legacy, an R title with hail damage. My cute little pock marked car was cheap, easy to drive, and sure to run forever. But it has it quirks, when you start it it shakes for a minute or two, the trunk button sticks, and the alarm goes off when you open the back door regardless of if you had it locked or not. Realistically, it wasn’t worth buying me a super nice vehicle because I would have broken, hit, or lost something on it before too long. Now I don’t really have to worry because its not in fabulous shape to begin with.

When the check engine light came on, I called Wonderful Husband and asked what to do, he had me go to Advanced Auto and get a diagnostic run. Just as he thought, it was a misfiring cylinder (I didn’t and still don’t have any idea what that means) he said it should just be the spark plugs, an easy, cheap fix. He told me to try to get it into the mechanic before driving it to his hometown for the family reunion, but not to worry too much because it should be ok to drive for the most part. The mechanic couldn’t get me in, and I decided I wouldn’t worry about it WH could just fix it when he got back home. I don’t really drive that much and I didn’t want to waste the money.

For some reason, Wonderful Husband was not happy about me skipping the mechanic, probably because he was dreading the thought of coming home from a long hard rotation and diving into a hard-to-work-on Subaru. He told me to call the mechanic and take it in. I decided to call our best friend and ask him to teach me how to do it. It would be a win/win. I would save money, I would learn something new, and Wonderful Husband wouldn’t have to do it. What could go wrong?

Fast forward to three hours into the job, everything under my hood is in pieces, there’s bolts and screws laying everywhere, and we have no flippin’ clue where the spark plugs are.


I finally decided we would just put it back together and I would call the mechanic the following day, we all agreed to never tell Wonderful Husband what we tried to do. He would laugh, he would probably be mad that I didn’t listen to him, and we would be embarrassed. We started putting all the bolts back in and getting the car back in one piece. We were about three bolts from being finished when Wonderful Husband pulled up outside the garage.

Double shit.

I looked at our friend and said “We are in so much trouble.”

He replied “Nobody move!”

Wonderful Husband said “I can see you guys in there.”

In the end, WH took it very well that we were trying to surprise him, and he barely rubbed it in our faces that we had failed. Unfortunately, he has now decided that we will change the spark plugs ourselves, so I can look forward to another evening covered in grease on my garage floor. Yippee.


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