Just Ten Minutes Prime Time – Bemidji Pioneer

All I need is ten minutes,” the professional says. And they are right. They know how to do stuff – have done it dozens of times and know shortcuts. An amateur toolbox diver on the other hand, reaches for pliers, crescent wrench or hammer and thinks he can get it done just as fast. Either that or he gets a bigger hammer.

Plumbing. Things need to be done in sequence. One of the most important is shutting off the water, no two ways about it! The City of Bemidji has seen fit to give us good water pressure. The natural consequence of not taking this into consideration is a deluge, fountain, or jet of water that will outdo a kid’s super-soaker.

Bitter experience with one of my home repairs left water cascading through the ceiling and a rush to the basement three floors down to the main valve, the air blue behind. Mops and a shop vac came first, wallboard and its companion drywall compound later, the fix at least adequate.

Automotive maintenance can be another rat hole of time lost. Consider the oil change. This should be simple: assemble the tools, buy oil and filter, commandeer a jug for disposal, drive it up a ramp and get to it. – – Not so fast.

Getting the plug out of the oil pan after a multitude of changes requires agility and strength, a commodity in short supply as age makes its inroads. A stout pipe on the end of a wrench gives some mechanical advantage to extracting the plug occasionally welded to the pan.

Then comes the filter – better have the right tools here. It is a given that auto engineers, designers of cars and the people who have to maintain them, don’t talk to each other. Access to the oil filter involves a contortionist’s ability to deform human bone structure, shred skin off of knuckles, and the capacity to heal quickly from bruising. Hope you’re not on blood thinners, you’d be a rainbow!

Memory and doing things in the proper order as you attempt to make the vehicle drivable are critical to the completion of the next tasks. #1. Replace the oil plug. Remember that synthetic oil you just bought for 26 bucks? Kiss it good-bye if the plug isn’t in. #2. The filter should be hand tightened unless you want to spend 45 minutes getting it off the next time an oil change is required, using screw drivers and vise grips in ingenious ways, creating new words for the next urban dictionary.

Electricity is a wonder: the physics of it, generation in the behemoth plants on the horizon, and transmission to the light switch on the wall in the kitchen. How would we survive without microwave popcorn?

Installation of a new switch or heaven forbid a GFI outlet can go quickly if you read the directions. Who does that? Instead, loosen this or that screw, bend and break old, brittle wires and make the new accommodate the old. Sometimes this works, other times flying by the seat of the pants gives lighting that dims for indeterminate reasons, sparks like Fourth of July sparklers, or arcing flashes that resemble lightning – in the kids bedroom! After trial and error, with many trips to the breaker box, maybe it’s best to call a professional. That will take less than ten minutes!





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