Chaos Attraction

Auto Mechanics Class, Week One

2014-04-01, 3:52 p.m.

No, this isn't an official April Fool entry. I am not together enough to plan out pranks, sorry. So all of the stuff below actually has happened.

I haven't talked about car stuff here in awhile, because there hasn't been anything to report on. I have been happily mishap-free and accident-free for months now, HUZZAH! My drives to the Bay Area and whatnot have been smooth and happy. I am pleased. However, way back when I first got the car and was having a bit of trouble, I decided that I hated having no effing idea what the mechanic was talking about, and I hated being a stereotypical dumb giiiiiiiiiiiiirl about the whole thing and that he could be telling me anything and I would have no idea if it was a lie or not. So I started looking around for an auto mechanics class.

I eventually found out that the adult school here offers one periodically....and I finally got their catalog in the mail a few days ago saying class was running this season! And on the one free night where I had nothing going this quarter at all! Huzzah! The blurb says, "Students will learn a broad variety of entry level skills in automotive maintenance including engine washing, oil changing, tune-ups, steering and brake systems, electrical systems, and general engine operating theory." The class started within a few days of my finally getting the catalog, so I signed up ASAP to make sure I got in.

There are nine guys and four girls in the class, which I think is pretty impressive. The teacher seems very nice. But I am feeling intimidated. I suppose I should have expected that. The first two hours of class was essentially lecture. He handed out a syllabus. Week two is washing your engine (I did not know this was a thing) and checking parts of your car like the tire pressure. Week three is changing the oil and checking the fluids, so it's a good thing I've been lazy-ass on getting my oil changed. Other weeks will be doing engine operating theory, whatever that is, tune up, steering and stopping, electrical, and talking about diagnosing major problems and how to buy a used car. Three of the ten weeks are open classes to just work on whatever, including one mid-class and the last two classes.

Which reminds me: he said he wasn't going to be there the last two weeks of class because he got a fishing permit(?) or something. (I have to say: that's kinda annoying. I wouldn't bail on a class I signed up to teach months ago short of like, work forcing me to go to a conference out of state.) So of course we need to have makeup classes. How's Thursday for everyone? Not good for me, perfectly fine for everyone yeah, I be screwed. And of course every other weekday I could do it was a no-go for multiple ugh. I may have to try to do CC makeup shifts or something, but that kinda sucks. To be fair, those are the "open class" ones, but one of them was going to be the used car lecture and I would like to be there for that. Sigh.

He gave us a list of things to bring to the second class: engine degreaser gunk (literally, that's what it's called), coveralls, a lot of quarters for the washing machine, a tire pressure gauge--I have two but I am going to have to see if mine are "approved" on his level--, flashlight, and cotton rags. Good thing I have all of those scary towels of Mom's from the 70's. He said every week we're going to get a custom list of parts we have to get a hold of before the next class, which worries me. He gave us a list of various places to get things, but it worries me that I will have to be hauling ass to a dealership every weekend (especially since traveling to Sacramento is going to be heinous for most of the duration of this class due to highway repairs). And how expensive it is gonna be. I *think* I can find the gunk and the coveralls this weekend on my own recognizance, but otherwise....eek. And actually, looking around the Internet, I'm starting to freak about the coveralls. I did not think I would ever be checking the websites of obscure army-navy or tractor supply stores for these things, but here I am doing that.

He asked everyone what kind of car they had, and then paired everyone up as car buddies with someone who presumably has a car that is relatively similar to theirs. We are to work with them at all times. We cannot go home until both our car and their car is repaired--no leaving them overnight if you fucked up. I can understand his logic on this, but in general I really hate "work with your group" or "buddy"-type stuff in classes because, well, you never know if the other person is going to flake and bail. (And when I was in school, they usually did.) So I was getting kinda nervous. So all the Toyota Corollas were matched up, all the Hondas, etc. I was the only Volvo, so I got matched with the other guy with a German car....a 2014 BMW. There are two guys in the class with 2014 cars and he was all, "You guys probably won't get to do much work on your actual cars, so you'll have to work on the other person's." When we were supposed to go meet our buddies, mine was all, "Um....I think maybe I'll bring my buddy's Honda instead so I can work on something...." I just did not know what to say to that, other than, "Hey, maybe you should talk to the instructor about that." I cannot account for his whereabouts the entire rest of the class because at one time I went to the can, but I suspect he did not actually do this. So...honestly, I dunno how well this is going to work or if I will even have said buddy come next week. This makes me nervous.

Of course, the entire class is making me nervous right now and I haven't even gotten greasy yet.

The final hour+ of the class (boy, did it get out late) was having two guys in class with their cars parked the closest to the auto shop class to open up their engines and we'd try to learn the various parts of it in the different engines. This got rather confusing after awhile and I don't know how well (if at all) I'm gonna be able to peg most of this on my own at home like he asked us to do. Heck, I don't know how you open the engine. So even though yeah, a class that TEACHES YOU HOW TO FIX UP YOUR DANG CAR is what I was going for--or at least, I want to know enough to be able to comprehend what's wrong with it--I am kinda quietly freaking in anticipation of the whole thing. I am quite nervous for the rest of the season.

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