“Ahhhhhhhh, shit!” Extremely warm motor oil gushed forth into a fresh cut I sustained while attempting to remove the oil drain bolt from the reservoir of my Ford Focus. The murky liquid confidently flowed from the underside of my vehicle in a dark and viscous arc that eluded my carefully positioned oil pan by just under an inch, as often seems to happen. A fresh slew of obscenity parted my lips as I re-position the pan to catch the oil. Shifting back into an uncomfortable half crunch, I found myself under a two ton vehicle that hovered over my head by the support of jacking instruments I always found to appear so comically flimsy and I asked myself the same question I always do when I change my oil; Why the hell would I ever do this again? The answer lies with the repetitive suggestions of my father.
When I was a child, one Sunday out of every month would inevitably begin with an early wake-up call from my father. “Brandon, Doug!” My father’s voice, colored by a sense of immediacy, would most certainly mean that my brother and I would spend our morning lying against enormous sheets of cardboard underneath various vehicles. That day, being oil chance day, which just so happened to be my least favorite family activity. I could not stand the sights and smells of the horrendously messy affair. It always seemed to me that a smell of savory rust and mineral oil permeated the entirety of the world when working underneath a vehicle. It was as though the removal of an oil drain bolt was as damaging to the world as the mythical opening of Pandora’s Box. I could not begin to understand why my father would so religiously attend to a task as contemptuous as this, and more, why he would never stop lecturing my brother and me about the benefit of us doing it ourselves. As though reading from a script, he would recite sternly confident words pertaining to caring for the things that belong to us. My ten year old mind found that notion to be superfluous and presumptions. It was not until many years later that I came to discover that he was attempting, by way of mechanical metaphor, to teach my brother and I to be passionate about the maintenance of all things in our life.
Lying under my vehicle now, my father is two hundred miles away, but his words, and the smell of the oil, haven’t left me. When the job is complete and I step back to witness a vehicle that appears as though no expletive inducing work has been done to it, I feel an enormous sense of pride welling up inside. My father did not, and does not love changing oil. He loves that his own determination leads him to be able to complete a task by himself. What he is passionate about is that a job well done, by our own two hands, provides us with a sense of accomplishment that nothing else in this world would ever be able to offer. That is the feeling I feel now, have felt, and will continue to feel when I accomplish a task that might be viewed as difficult. Pride and Passion could be called siblings, and I thank my Father, mother, and countless others for helping me to understand that, even if it means my hands will continue to smell funny for the rest of the evening.