Car Trouble

by | Jun 10, 1998 | Bible, Obedience

She was a beauty, Alex thought. A two-seat convertible just off the assembly line and loaded with all the options Alex’s saving account could afford. She was a deep cobalt blue, glossy and seemingly untouched, glistening in the summer sun. As he looked out of the window in the salesman’s office, he could see the car waiting for him, waiting for the last signature on the last piece of paperwork, waiting to have him slide into the driver’s seat and start her up for the first time. Alex would sign anything now to be able to drive off in this magnificent sculpture of steel and leather.

The first joyride out of the dealer’s lot was exhilarating. He negotiated turns his old automobile never could have, and sped past cars he never would have challenged previously. What a machine, he thought as he pulled into his driveway and turned off the ignition. He sat for an hour in the leather seat, breathing in the aroma of the plastic and wood trim, fingering the buttons and dials, and dreaming of all the good things owning this vehicle could mean.

The next morning, a Saturday, Alex woke up early and got out the cleaning supplies. Though his car was only hours in his possession, he wanted it to stay perfect for as long as possible. He planned to spend a good part of the day on it, sweating under an August sky, making it shine even more than it already did.

First, he dumped a bag of gravel on the hood and smeared it around a bit, then removed the gravel with a garden rake. After that, he went over the exterior with sandpaper, wiping every surface thoroughly and with gusto. Next came the interior. He used the garden hose to spray everything off inside and then gouged some of the gauges and switches with a screwdriver. He used a little sandpaper here and there as well.

Alex then got under the hood for a little fine-tuning. He banged on the fuel filter with a hammer, and did the same to a number of other components, including the brake lines and alternator. He poured some water in the oil receptacle and cut a few wires here and there. Now, he thought, she’ll really run smooth.

After he had spent hours on the car, he stepped back to admire her. Somehow, he thought, she didn’t look quite right. He shrugged it off, though, reasoning that emotions come and go, but, deep down, he knew what a jewel she was.

Over the next few days, Alex began to notice that something was wrong with his new car. She didn’t have the “get up and go” that she once did, and the stereo stopped working. He tried each night to find the problem, but he just wasn’t quite sure where to look. He had learned about cars over the years from his father and assorted friends. He tried everything he could remember. He took it to friends and professional mechanics that claimed to be experts. Nothing seemed to work. In fact, the car’s performance and appearance only got worse.

While tooling around one night, Alex opened the glove compartment and noticed a booklet in a protective plastic cover. He took it out and read the front: “Owner’s Manual.” He opened the book, and sat for hours reading it and rereading it by the map light.

Alex was astonished. Apparently, if this book was to be believed, he, and many of the people he knew, was dreadfully mistaken about how to maintain and fix automobiles. In fact, most everything he had been doing wasn’t merely ineffective, but actually destructive. No wonder, he thought, she isn’t quite the same. “I’ve been killing her,” he whispered to himself.

He knew that he couldn’t go to his “friends” or “professionals” for help with his car troubles. He had tried them. They were of no use. Contained in the owner’s manual was a telephone number for the manufacturer. Alex knew what his only viable option was. He resigned himself to a long night on the phone, and walked back into the house.

Stephen F. Pizzini


Car Trouble