School’s out and Sal and I do car repairs

Last day of the elementary level of Conflict Resolution was yesterday.  All kids received their ‘certificates’.  I am glad it is over.  But it was fun.

On the last day, the kids did role plays.  They first argue about some false issue I give them and then they use the tools they were introduced to to resolve it.  Of course, kids can’t really ‘act’ 100%, and they revert to ‘self’ pretty quickly but they gave it a shot and they demonstrated that they knew the tools.  Basically.  It was not hard to praise them. But the best part were some of the solutions.

To the 8 year old who was appointed the president, owner and CEO of an oil company in Alberta meeting with an environmentalist (9 years old), the solution arrived at was to sell the company, close the valves and start a cotton farm together.

To the brother and sister who had the house to themselves over the weekend and it was a mess with the parents on their way home, the solution was to stop blaming each other and simply lock the doors, go to bed and pretend to have been sick for the entire time the parents were away.

They failed the ‘test the solution’ part of the process.

To the 60 year old volunteer who was married to the 12 year old and arguing about child care, the solution was to divorce, move next door and hire a nanny (a solution Jack Nicholson, the actor, made famous in real life).

“What are you going to teach next?”  Asked the teacher.  “I was thinking of stand-up comedy but they already know that better than I do.”

Maybe we’ll let that teaching opportunity mellow for, oh, say, a year?

After class, we went to the other island to work on the car.  It was sputtering and running poorly.  I had used my low-cost diagnosis computer-reader to determine that it was the computer-connected mass air sensor (MAS) that was the culprit.  You Tube suggested spraying it with a special cleaner.  Further googling revealed that the special cleaner is 99% rubbing alcohol. So, pouring a small amount of that in to a small container, we went over and removed the MAS, immersed it in alcohol and shook it up.  Then we replaced the part and tried the car. Perfect.

The remedy suggested by the mechanic in Vancouver (the sputtering has been going on for a while but we drive little) was a $700 replacement part and, of course, labour and taxes.  The part is the size of a lollipop and consists of two filaments like that found in a small incandescent light bulb.  $700 seemed extreme.  Lordco parts quoted $650.  The filaments were intact so replacing the part seemed ridiculous.  And a chimp could do the labour.

So, we did it.  All in all, we felt pretty good about our day.  But should we have?

The main underlying lesson of teaching conflict skills is that conflict is not only common, it is perpetual.  “If you guys want a career that has a never-ending supply of customers, consider becoming a mediator.  You will never run out of work.”

AND: “You are destined to fight a lot over the next few decades of your life.  May as well get trained.”  What a lesson!

The second lesson was – no one fixes anything anymore.  They just replace it with a new part.  Plug, play and pay.  In this case, the mechanic was NOT obviously crooked but simply analyzing at a superficial level and replacing the part without even considering fixing (in this case cleaning) the part. No wonder life is so expensive.  Especially in the city.  Who, in the city, has the time to analyze and fix their own car?  Delegating to specialists wouldn’t be so bad if it was necessary but that little example would have cost $1000.00.

And I would have had to make $1300 to pay the taxes to pay the bill that included $150.00 in more taxes.

Is it just me?  Or does our whole bloody system need some major in-depth analysis and some very diligent reaming and cleaning?


12 thoughts on “School’s out and Sal and I do car repairs

  1. I owned a 2002 Mazda protege. A few years ago the “check engine light” came on….borrowed the hand held computor diagnostic reader from a friend. One of my two Oxygen sensors were hooped. ( intake sensor or exhaust sensor….flip a coin.) So I checked out how to replace it on You Tube and picked the exhaust sensor (hotter gas, more extreme running conditions). Lordco $70 part. 30 minutes of finger ninja removal and install.
    Poof done. And a good feeling of acccomplishment.
    But dont ask about my TV repair “experiment” with my 42 inch plasma…….parts everywhere….2 weeks of reading……..replacement part more expensive than a new tv ….. arrrgghh.


    • You Tube is hilarious. And most people watch it for that reason. But the odd how-to is a God send. Usually it is some old guy telling you how to rebuild your weed whacker or something….and he goes on and on and on……(sorta like I do) and bores the hell out of me. But sometimes – if my weed whacker needs the attention – I suffer through the rambling and silly safety fill-ins and actually LEARN how to fix the damn thing. THAT is very cool. I really like that.
      I have to confess to having watched some ‘gun’ nuts from the States blow up crap. I have no idea how I got there, I swear. There’s some gun store duo that look straight out of Deliverance and sound like it, too. And there’s a fairly unattractive woman who shoots stuff wearing a bikini… is hard to make some of that stuff up.


      • Yeah the best tv “repair” was from some latino kid in the back of a Florida tv repair shop. ( maybe he was trying to generate business….?). Anywho he showed anough to get my entire tv’s “guts” out and all over my livingroom. I just couldnt get the replacement part. Nobody including Panasonic sells that part. And to try and get it fixed. $500. so I just bought a new tv the same size for 500.
        We are a throw away society…. Sad.


  2. The ‘tire pressure sensor fault’ light is blinking on my dashboard. The tires are fully pressurized. What a ridiculous “bell and whistle” to have on a vehicle. If you don’t know that a tire is low on air, maybe you shouldn’t be driving. Of course, the tire tech can’t tell which sensor it is because all register low battery on his tester. Replace all four at $40 each for the cheapo ones (plus labour and taxes!)


    • I agree. Stupid bell. Stupid whistle. Same kind of ‘crap’ as my professional said about the oxy sensor. A REAL mechanic friend of mine said, “get a car made in the 80’s before computer crap and make it a 350 Chev. They are as close to bullet-proof as a blue-collar guy can afford.”
      I tend to feel that way about large Japanese SUVs but they have chips and comps and they screw up expensively, too. What is the point of having an engine that is good for 250K miles but the electrics ‘blink out’ at 125? There must be a workaround for that – pull out a tire fuse?


      • Sometimes the cold weather will cause the “low tire pressure” sensor to screw up.
        Annoying gizmo that is totally unnecessary.
        Kinda like a control panel light on your generator to tell you when your generator is on…..the extremely loud , vibrating, diesel smoke spewing, generator……..


    • I fixed the ‘tire pressure sensor fault’ light on my Beemer by taping black electrician tape over it. I don’t drive it anyway so makes complete sense (to me).


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