My Truck Wouldn’t Start and I Felt Absolutely Incompetent
When I was younger, my dad taught me the basics on owning a vehicle. How to change a tire, how to check the oil, how to boost the damn thing, basic roadside safety. But, in years that have passed I’ve rarely needed to actually use these skills, which is a good thing because that means I’m not breaking down on the side of the road as much as I assumed I would be. Part of that is because vehicles are better made and the other part is because I’m not driving like a maniac, like I’m 22 and invincible.
The problem with not breaking down on the side of the road (if you can put a problem to that) is that I haven’t had to practice doing any of these things since I was a teenager. Sure, I could change a tire and definitely could with a quick Youtube video, but it’ll take me forever. I check my oil from time to time, but I haven’t done my own oil change because there’s just some things in life you should pay for. Accounting and oil changes are two of those things for me.
I’ve become lazy over the years on my regular ‘survival’ skills. Not the ones needed if I was dropped in the middle of a forest with only a compass and a knife, but the ones needed to just make it through the day. I’ve lost all that knowledge that was taught to me way back when and it left me scratching my head and feeling pretty damn vulnerable.
I live in Canada and that means most of the country is pretty fucking cold. The prairies get some pretty hearty cold snaps that will chill you to the marrow. It also means you should be plugging in your car when it starts to get chilly, something I haven’t had to do very often in years because I park in a garage. Though not heated, it provides safe shelter for my truck that is usually run once a day, allowing it to not have to be plugged in (also there’s that whole thing about not plugging in your vehicle in a garage because fires). But, this day it wasn’t happy. It wouldn’t start and I 100% did not know what to do.
I knew plugging it in wouldn’t actually do anything since it wasn’t turning over, at all, but I didn’t know what to do at that moment. It hadn’t started a few weeks back and I called my husband who was working down the road. Luckily, he was able to come over before I had to be at the office and he boosted my truck, no problem.
This time, my husband wasn’t working near and I wasn’t leaving to get groceries before work, thus giving me time to figure things out; I was trying to leave for work at that moment. For a brief second I wondered if I should call CAA and have them start my truck, wondering how long it would take them to get to me. A stupid waste of one of the ‘free’ visits, I told myself that this is what they are there for.
I called the office and told them that I wouldn’t be coming in early like originally planned and proceeded to panic until my husband picked up and walked me through how to charge my battery with a battery charger we had tucked away in the garage. How simple. How easy.
Sitting inside, waiting for my battery to be brought back to life, I wondered what I would’ve done if something like this happened outside of my garage, outside of the realm of internet and calling people and having someone bail me out. I came to the conclusion that I would probably be stranded for quite some time until I figured out just what the fuck I could do.
I’ve been so focused on other things in life these last few years, like making money online and getting the right technology and spending time on Pinterest so that I can direct traffic to my blog, all those things that can help you excel in moments, but do absolutely nothing when things in life go really wrong. The internet, though helpful with Youtube videos, is not what I need when things go sideways and I have to rely on myself and some sort of survival instinct to kick in. Typing 95wpm (does anyone care about that anymore?) isn’t going to make my truck start.
People are so lost on the little things in life, the normal things that we were taught when we were younger (or maybe not taught at all), on how to do basic things like budget and cook and clean and light mechanics and plumbing. There are even classes taught at Berkeley for things like this. Basic things that we should’ve already known, but haven’t had to or have forgotten because we haven’t had to use these skills in so long.
Cooking? You can order anything right to your door. Grocery shopping? To your door in a handy box made for easy meals or to your car door as you ignore human contact from the safety of your phone and vehicle. Driving? No need. There’s an Uber for that. Can’t be bothered to flick a light switch to turn off your lights? Tell Alexa to get them for you. Basic sewing skills? Just throw it out and get yourself some more fast fashion, you can afford it. You don’t even have to do your own laundry in some cities, all you have to do is let an app take care of it for you.
While all of those things are incredibly helpful in certain situations or a nice splurge every now and then, what do we do when they don’t work? What do we do when we can’t access easy apps or the internet?
I have often thought of myself as self-reliant, a far cry from those ‘Millennial Snowflakes’ you always hear about, even though I’m smack-dab right in the middle of that generation. And, yet, a simple cold day in winter brought me to my knees. I didn’t know what to do when something I had relied on, had taken for granted, wouldn’t work.
People made fun of Berkeley for offering classes on simple things that fully grown adults should already know, but what’s so funny about taking classes that teach you day-to-day skills? I had always heard talk of home economics or shop classes from my parents and in movies, but except for a few classes that barely taught me anything, I didn’t see this in my high school. I learned my skills from my parents, from learning in real-world situations (it is now engrained in my memory on how to charge my battery), but not everyone’s parents know how to do these things. It’s what school is made for: teaching.
We’ve become so engrossed in technology and the really great and cool advances of the world that we’ve forgotten how to simply survive in a crisis (small crises exist, too). We’ve forgotten that without the internet, a lot of people wouldn’t know what to do, myself included, at times. Just like people need to brush up on their CPR, we need to brush up on those day-to-day surival skills, even if it’s just there to make sure we don’t get into work late.