Be your own mechanic – on the road and in life |

Be your own mechanic – on the road and in life

Charlie Owens
Charlie Owens

Have you ever owned a car that had certain constant nagging problems that were just easier to ignore than to actually pop the hood and take a gander.

You know, the check engine light turns on but you can’t actually feel anything happening so you just keep driving. Or you start to hear a loud clink coming from under the hood but it sounds too expensive to think about and after all, your car is still able to be driven so who cares?

And then there is my personal favorite, the old broken muffler. You’ve seen these guys, driving around, doing about 90 mph, shooting sparks from the bottom of the car like they are in a Jerry Bruckheimer movie, quaking the very earth below them. When you pass them they look like they have absolutely no idea that anything is wrong. I think most of us can relate to one or more of these situations, if not something all together more horrifying and expensive.

If you are anything like me, you often look for the easiest, cheapest way to do things because you have more important things to do and better things to spend your money on. My car leaks oil so it’s easier for me to just add a quart now and then than to actually have the oil changed. My tires are usually flat before I check the pressure. I’m usually in the middle of a snowstorm before I realize that I need new wipers and my engine is usually steaming before I check the coolant. What does all this say about me? More than I actually dare to admit is true, I’m sure.

Recently my roommate and I had a misunderstanding (of course, neither of us were to blame) and we pretty much didn’t talk to each other for two weeks. Other than the occasional courtesy “hello, what have you been up to?” there wasn’t much else to say.

We finally talked it out and I realized we both had pretty convincing arguments as to why we should be upset with each other, and why it is equally important not allow a problem to get big enough that it eclipses personal growth and relationships. It was my own stubbornness that created the problem; the equivalent of not finding out why that check engine light came on in the car.

And like cars, the longer we wait to fix the problem, the costlier repairs can be down the road.

Preventative maintenance is the only way to ensure major repairs are rarely necessary. As a recourse in your own mind, at least you did all you could to fix the problem before the engine completely blows up. If you take that thought into your personal life, by the time the big problems arise (like fights with roommates) then you will hopefully be more prepared to deal with them than I was.

I don’t know about you, but I tend to not check into my own character flaws until it’s too late. More often than not, I wind up broke down on the side of the highway with no one but myself to blame.

With this latest scuffle (and it was all over a football game, mind you) I realized that maybe I don’t always handle things the best way possible and that is nobody’s fault but mine (a great Led Zeppelin tune as well).

For instance, I always think I’m right, but I also know that I hate confrontation. Those are two things I know I can work on before the next situation arises where I might need to use those qualities. Just a thought.

Keep in mind that I know the car analogy only works up to a point. People are not machines; we are much more complicated. As human beings, we are all flawed, imperfect creatures that will always make mistakes and never get it right all the time, and that’s fine. But I know that I don’t want to end up one of those old rust buckets that you see sitting on cinder blocks with no engine and rusted floor panels from years of disrepair and neglect.

After all, how hard is it really to change the oil or check the tire pressure from time to time? As for my roommate and me, we are still friends after talking out our differences (I’m still right though). The Colt’s won that football game so it’s all good.

Charlie Owens can be reached at

Vail Colorado

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