Nervous. Stupid. Weak. Incompetent. I didn’t expect to have any of these thoughts when I decided I wanted to revisit how to change oil on a car as a part of my 50-4-50 list. I spent many hours in garages with my high school boyfriend and his friends, so these feelings caught me off guard. Why was I so nervous? I’ve done this before. I even thought of backing out at the last minute. Was I really that concerned about looking incompetent in front of my husband of 25 years? I guess so. Luckily, my confidence built quickly as I found the hood release, propped the hood up, and pulled the oil stick. A moment of doubt followed when I pushed the floor jack under the car and Todd asked, “See the frame?” “Sure???” He pointed out a few different parts, and then we jacked up the car.
After successfully retrieving the proper tool by name only, my increasing confidence showed. Todd offered to help me unscrew the skid plate. “No. I got it.” I struggled a bit (bifocals are a bitch when lying on a creeper under a car and trying to put the screwdriver into the screw), but I was able to chuckle at myself by this point. My confidence continued to build as I independently found the oil filter. Then, when I tried to loosen the filter using the filter wrench, it happened again, that feeling of incompetence. Luckily, Todd struggled releasing the oil filter too, so I didn’t feel as bad.
Todd continued being patient as I looked for the drain plug and struggled to loosen that too. He taught me how to add leverage by hooking two end wrenches together and then lovingly offered to hold the wrenches and provide a little extra umph when my weak upper arm strength still showed. Once the oil drained and it was time to put everything back together, my confidence allowed me to work (almost) independently. Of course, Todd checked in and didn’t wander away. He continued to answer my questions and even chuckled with me as I continued to complain about my bifocals, my weak upper arms, and my understanding of why my uncle’s garage was built with a floor pit.
One of Todd’s many sayings includes, “I’m only a dumb plumber but…” Without his guidance, I’m almost positive I would’ve never attempted the oil change or would’ve cried Uncle early on. He nudged me by asking a simple question, “Do you see the skid plate screws?” then when I wasn’t sure, he’d point one out and let me find the the rest. He provided the physical assistance I needed when I just wasn’t strong enough to budge the filter or drain plug, yet once loosened, he let me take over. His patience and persistence, allowed me to eventually chuckle at my struggles. His genuine heart, belief in my ability, and careful balance between helping and pushing me guided me to my end goal and feeling of accomplishment. But more importantly, my “dumb plumber” husband reminded me just what I need to do, say, and believe to be a good teacher. Love you dear!