I don’t bring a great deal to the table in the man skills department, my mechanical knowledge stretches not much further than key goes here ,car goes vroom, as for my DIY skills I can expertly identify all sorts of issues around our condo for my father-in-law to remedy. I do bring the ability to firedance to the table, but this seems to present a potential burning down of truck and camper hazard, I also have the ability to run for a really long time which I assume will be useful if I burn down our home on wheels. Looking at the balance of skills then I do not seem like the ideal candidate for such a trip, however I do believe that near enough anything given a modicum of common sense can be winged.
I may be being a little too harsh on myself, after growing up camping and orienteering I can pretty much take care of myself in the great outdoors, and winging things is a strong suit. However there is a fundamental skill that neither Heather nor I have the slightest knowledge to apply common sense to and that is automotive maintenance. This is issue has been nagging at the back of my mind pretty much from the time that we decided how we were going to travel, and the odds of me learning enough Spanish to explain what was wrong were also slim. Despite the odd restless night’s sleep I had decided to just hope for the best, that was until a friend started grilling me on my ability to care for and fix The Hulk should a problem arise –
Mitch: Do you know anything about fixing trucks?
Mitch: Do you at least know some basic maintenance?
Me: Well nope.
Mitch: Not even how to fix a flat or change the oil?
Me: I know that oil needs to be changed and flat tires are not good tires.
Mitch: Do you know enough Spanish to explain what is wrong?
Me: I don’t know enough English to explain what is wrong, I know how to order a beer in Spanish which will help take my mind off my broken truck.
Mitch: You are going to die!!!
Me: We are not going to die.
He was obviously not sold on our ability to return to Canada in one piece and with The Hulk, as two days later I received an email. In that email was a link to the Toronto District School Boards adult learning programs, knowing that in all likelihood I would not read the brochure he told me the exact page to reference. The course was 3 hours a week for 9 weeks covering basic auto maintenance, at $192 bucks it seemed like great value and conveniently it started the following Tuesday.
I am currently in my 3rd week and can say without a doubt I know precisely 9 hours more about cars than I knew previously. I was unsure what to expect, I was not even sure my school had a shop class, would I stick out like a sore thumb and make a tit of myself? Turns out that the class is not full of “T-bird” hoodlums looking at ways to sup up their hot rods, but people like me who had made it to adulthood without a grasp of how their vehicles work. Our teacher, Frank, is a great down to earth guy and has taken an interest in our trip, he has become a sounding board for me and I have been peppering the poor guy with questions. To date I have learned how to change oil, oil filters, air filter, cabin air filter, plug a hole in my tire, but more than anything else it has given me the confidence that I can at the very least do a few basics.