Sue Carnahan

 

Auto Repair

 

GREASE

Pulling the starter on a 1969 Bronco, I get dirty.
Dirt in my mouth, on my glasses, hands, in my ears.
Whatever I have been carrying around comes down.

When the starter falls it is heavy, I should prepare but I never quite
can, it thumps my chest like a sneeze.


HANDS

My hands could get in and around in ways his couldn't.
It was why he wasn't a surgeon.


INFATUATION

It seemed important to do something big
so we bought the shop from J. W. Everett
who'd owned it since 1951 and had receipts.
One battery, installed, a dollar fifty. We paid
too much for everything.


INTAKE MANIFOLD

What do you want to know?
I changed one, my husband handing me
directions like tools.
I don't think
I would do it again
without someone
to scrape, someone to
position the gaskets, check
for grit and build-up.


DO YOU REGRET THE MARRIAGE?

It was good because I learned to do all the work.
It was good because I learned to do all the work on my own cars.


WHAT I LEARNED

It could get complicated. The nun
who needed a master cylinder
we didn't have had cash
but the guy who needed a serpentine belt
we did had only a credit card
so I drove them to Kingman
where he put her part on his plastic
and she paid part of his bill in cash.


ASK YOURSELF

before the tow truck driver arrives:
Is my car out of gas?


DESIRE

We kept every account paid up.
Maybe we shouldn't have.


HUMAN ERROR BY JAMES REASON

Some mistakes happen before
there is a problem.
These are called "slips" or "lapses."

Other mistakes happen during
management of a problem.

There are two types:
Rule-based (RB) errors occur when
you apply routine solutions
to problems they are not adequate to solve.

Knowledge-based (KB) errors occur when
you run out of routine solutions.

Reason says, Mistakes at the KB level
have hit-and-miss qualities
not dissimilar to the errors of beginners.


PRODUCTIVITY

While busily engaged
he smoked little though
he might light and leave
several burning at once.

Later they were like
little ghosts on top of
empty beer cans.