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Help! This hot weather is melting my brain

July 18, 1997

I'm temporarily brain-damaged. The synapses have snapped. I call it Heat-induced Mental Meltdown (HMM).

It's too hot to think logically or put into words long, coherent sequences of thought. Therefore, this column will consist of little chunks. I can only hope they make sense.

- You know it's HOT when birds are walking around with their beaks open. You notice I said "walking," as opposed to flying.

Not only does extreme heat make them walk and pant, it also forces some species of birds to go to great lengths to find sustenance. A robin all but dug a strip mine in my garden the other day in a vain search for just one lousy worm. He finally gave up and just stood there with his head cocked, his eyes glazed and his weak beak hanging slack.

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So what, some of you will say. The birds are hot. Big deal. Well, it IS a big deal, to them. Think about it. Bird nests are not air conditioned. They do not have indoor plumbing with running water. They don't have electric fans. How would YOU feel if YOU were a bird? Huh!!?

- I've been watching my cotoneaster closely for the past few days, waiting for it to turn into a burning bush, via spontaneous combustion.

- My car is eating oil, and no one believes me. I figure that's because I'm a woman.

I religiously get my oil changed when it's due and, until a couple of months ago, there was always some in it when I rolled into the shop.

Two months ago, my oil light came on. Good thing, because by the time I pulled into a nearby gas station, there wasn't enough left in my engine to lubricate a safety pin.

I asked the attendant to check the oil for me. (I'm not very good at checking oil, mostly because I can't see to read the dipstick. I have a similar problem finding the mercury line in thermometers.)

"We aren't a full-service station," the gas station attendant said disgustedly.

"I realize that, but my oil light came on and I need to have it checked," I said. "Besides, there aren't any full service stations left."

"Well, if I don't get any customers, I guess I can check it," he grumbled.

"Thank you so-o-o-o much," I said. I mean, it wasn't like I was asking him to put in a new transmission or anything.

He checked my oil, and said I was down two quarts - something my brother's said for years. Then he began to walk away.

"Uh, sir, would you mind putting two quarts of oil in my car?" I asked.

"Well, I guess I can, as long as I don't get any customers," he growled.

He looked at the pumps, hoping to see a car. There weren't any.

When I tipped him later, his whole attitude changed. Amazing.

I had my oil changed the next week. I told the servicemen I had a leak. They looked. "Are you sure?" they asked.

"Well, something's happening because I'm losing it," I said. "It's disappearing. Here today, gone tomorrow."

They didn't find an oil leak. They found a transmission leak. They thought maybe I had the two fluids mixed up.

"I used to own a possessed car, and before I got it blessed, it leaked all over the place," I said. "I know from experience the difference between transmission fluid and oil. Besides, why would my oil be low because my transmission is leaking?"

No answer, probably because the question made sense.

They just looked at me, as if they thought I was addled from the heat or something.

"You really had a possessed car?" one of them finally said.

If a guy had driven up and said, "Hey, man, I got an oil leak. Think you can fix it?" I bet these same two servicemen would have said something like this. "Oil leak? Sure. Do you want us to give you an estimate before we do any work?"

My car's still eating oil.

I don't care anymore.

- That last chunk of thought turned out to be a boulder, didn't it? HMM, I wonder why I rambled so.

Terry Talbert is a Herald-Mail staff writer.

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