Friday, July 26, 2019

Why I Am a Teacher

by G. Jack Urso

Occasionally, I have transcendent experiences that remind me why I am a teacher.

I hosed down my lawn mower last week and this week it wouldn't start. Did I get water in the gas line? In the gas tank? I look in the manual. I read a line that says check the oil.

Wait, this thing requires oil? I don't ever recall putting oil in it. I see a can of two-stroke small engine oil in the garage, but did I get that for the gas-powered snow blower I got rid of six years ago? I'm not sure.

Whatever. I fill the oil tank up, and the gas tank, but it still won't start.

It must need a new spark plug. I see the tag on the handlebar from when I bought it  2010. I've had it for nine years and never changed the spark plug. I don't want to think about the last time I put in oil.

OK, let's start with a new spark plug. My buddy Steve says that's real simple.

Famous. Last. Words.

I can't get the damn thing off. I go online. One website suggests spraying it with a lot of WD-40 and use a spark plug wrench.

There's something actually called a spark plug wrench? This thing is so complicated that it needs its own special wrench?

I run up to Pep Boys and tell them I need a spark plug wrench.

The clerk says, "Certainly sir. What size?"


I go home and measure it  5/8 in.

I go back and buy a 5/8 in. spark plug wrench. I go home.

It's too small. I measure it again. It says 5/8s. WTF!

This time, I go to Home Depot instead (Home Depot and Pepboys are both about a mile from my house, so it's not a long trip) but cannot find a spark plug wrench. I ask the clerk and he points me back to the aisle I just spent ten minutes in looking for one. I still can't find it.

Frustrated, I go home and jump online. Home Depot does in fact carry a cheap three-size combo spark plug wrench and AT THE STORE I WAS JUST AT! So, I order one and an hour later it's ready to pick up.

I pick it up, go home and, after wrestling trying to get the frickin' wrenches free from being stuck one inside the other, I pop it on the old spark plug and it comes off.

Then I go back to Pepboys and get the right spark plug.

I get home, put on the spark plug, and the lawn mower starts right up! Success! I begin mowing immediately, but it is spitting out a LOT of oil. I must have put in too much (way too much I discover).

I get a pan to drain the oil in. Start it up . . . still sputters. I drain some more oil out but begin spilling it onto the grass because I'm a bit anxious to get this done. I did this several times until the engine stopped spitting out oil.

I get back to mowing. It’s a hot day. The engine is hot. There's oil that has been spit out on the lawn by the engine in addition to me spilling it when draining. After I start mowing, I notice that the grass is smoking. I think I'm setting my lawn on fire. I hose the lawn down.

I finish mowing. I have the world's smallest lawn and it usually takes me about fifteen minutes to mow. Today, however, it has taken me about five hours. I am covered in blood, sweat, tears, water, oil, gas, and grass. It took me three visits to Pepboys and two to Home Depot to get the correct size spark plug wrench and spark plug. I ruined my new Docksiders. I almost set the lawn on fire. 

And that's why I am a teacher.


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