Today I wandered down the hill to the automotive repair program at TCATN to ask if someone could look at my car. They’ll do that for TCATN students, because the auto students need hands-on experience.
I was happy to help out by sharing a decrepit Cheeto-stained minivan with a suspicious tick in the front wheel. Then I walked back to construction class and got eight hours of hands-on experience framing walls.
By the time construction school dismissed for the day, my car had a diagnosis: The problem was the lifters in the valve train. You see, blah blah blah, valve train, blah blah blah…
In other words, the car makes weird noises first thing in the morning because the oil drops overnight.
I know the feeling.
Anyway, they suggested I upgrade oil viscosity, from 5W20 to 5W30, so the oil can’t leak as much overnight.
Meanwhile, they cleaned the Cheeto-clogged tracks of the van’s sliding doors, restoring them to working order, and reassured me that the ticking wheel is not a sign of imminent danger, so I am pretty happy overall and will bring all family cars to TCATN in the future.
Did I mention they charged me nothing? Zero. Free.
And did I mention that the person who helped me, the lead instructor at the auto program, is a woman? And a badass to boot. She manages her classroom–dozens of young men and four women–with the efficiency of a NASCAR pit crew.
Far be it from me to lead with someone’s gender, but I don’t see a lot of women around construction school, so I struck up a conversation with my TCATN sister Melody Bailey, who co-founded WomenOfAutomotive.com.
“How did you learn all this?” I asked.
Melody answered by showing me a photograph from her desk–an adorable toddler girl chewing on a spark plug. The picture was taken in her dad’s workplace: the racetrack. (Melody’s dad, Wayne Bailey, died in crash in 2000.) She also showed me a YouTube video of her as a child, cleaning tires at her dad’s drag race.
“I was born into it,” she said, attributing her technical talents equally to her dad and her mom, who worked heavy machinery. “They say I was born with a wrench in my hand.”