Death has been called “the great leveler”. Recently social networking has been called “the great leveler” because it allows small businesses to compete with big business. But for me the great leveler is when my husband asks me to “help out for a minute”. A chill always goes down my spine. What impossible task does he have in store for me? Will it involve getting close to large whirling pieces of machinery that will rip off my arm or capture my scarf and Isadora Duncan me? Will it involve large cows charging towards me in an alleyway with only a long stick to fend them off?
I spend most of my day sitting on my butt wrangling with film producers on the phone. I know a lot about deal making and a fair amount about computers. I have an almost PhD in theater and film, (except for that dissertation) so I can tell you about Henrik Ibsen, Bertolt Brecht, and Frank Capra. But mechanical ability? Not so much. A sense of what hydraulics are? No… not really. Even watching the women at Janet’s Hair and Nails this morning knitting kids’ hats filled me with wonder and dread. It looked really hard and I didn’t think my short attention span could tackle such tasks.
“It won’t take long,” he says. (He always says that).
“Do I need to change shoes?” I query because sometimes it involves cow pies and bull crap.
So we go out the back door and into the shop yard where he has his tractor attached to a gigantic leveler. But he also has his diesel flatbed truck backed up against the leveler with the hydraulic arms stretched out lifting a huge chain wrapped around part of the leveler. These hydraulic arms are used to pick up round bales and then drop them on the ground for the cows to feed. But now he’s using them to hold the back end of the leveler up.
“Hold this piece and when I start lifting the back end, you try to put the pin in that hole. And watch your fingers. It may jerk a little”.
Yes, friends, it’s the “watch your fingers” part that always has my hair stand on end. There are a whole lot of guys around here missing digits and I do not want to join the club.
Anyway, it works pretty well with him using the hydraulics to line up the back end and I guide the narrow piece of metal into the rectangular hole. But it doesn’t quite line up. He then tries all kinds of things involving hammering, using a crowbar, putting blocks behind the wheels and then backing the tractor up. But still off by a couple inches.
“What happened to it?” I said.
“Oh, this piece was weak so I cut another piece and welded it on top. But looks like the hole I cut needs to be another half inch. Then I can close that gap and bolt it. So I don’t think I need you for awhile.”
Just when I was enjoying a beautiful Indian Summer day of 70 degrees and sunshine and doing something really useful and learning a bit about mechanics, I have to go back into an office. Pooh. Well, at least I have all my digits for dialing.