- by Felisa
Face, meet palm. I knew better, and I did it anyway. In the immortal words of Forrest Gump, "Stupid is as stupid does, and I just did stupid."
I am one of those (supposedly) rare women who prefers to change her own oil. I can get a much higher grade of oil for the same price if I do the work myself. As a rule, I drive aging cars, and the oil used makes a difference in the longevity of the engine. In theory, it is not a difficult procedure: put the oil pan underneath, unscrew the drain plug, let the oil out, take out the old filter, put in the new one, put the plug back, pour in the new oil. I've done it several times before...just not to my current vehicle. And not by myself.
Last Saturday, after weeks of saying I needed to do it, I finally got around to changing my oil. I looked around under the car for a while, oil filter wrench in hand. Puzzled, I turned to my stepfather, who had graciously agreed to help, and I asked, "Where's the oil filter?" He pointed to a likely-looking red cylinder, half-hidden by the frame. I said, "Ah, there it is," and proceeded to remove it. It didn't look like the filter I remembered buying, and it was awfully far from the oil pan, but it was the right size and shape, so I went ahead. When I got it off, the fluid that came out was a very reddish brown. "Puce," I thought to myself, “the color of old blood. Yuck.” I said, "Wow, it must really need a change. That's not the right color at all." Then I attempted to install the new filter I had bought. It didn’t screw on easily. I bought a different brand, and the threads looked right, so I tried to install it. It still didn't quite fit. When I tightened it as far as I could with my bare hands, and saw that there was still a gap, I decided to use the wrench to force it on tighter. My stepfather helped.
This is the part of the story where I hold my face in my hands and say, "I knew better. Why did I do that?" If a part doesn't fit, it should never, EVER be forced into place. The part looked unfamiliar, the fluid was the wrong color, and the new part didn’t fit.
If your instincts are telling you "this is not right," listen.
How many times do I have to learn this lesson?
As it turns out, the red filter is for the transmission fluid. Once we realized this, we searched for and changed the real oil filter. We put the red filter back in its rightful place (with force, once again, as my previous mistake had damaged the threads, and it was difficult to screw on), and I started the car so he could check the transmission fluid level. My stepfather shouted, “Oh no! Turn it off!" as thick, puce liquid poured out and flowed over the driveway. It looked like my poor baby was bleeding to death. We think we can fix it, but it has taken us days to locate the correct tool. Apparently, metric sizes are somewhat unpopular ’round these parts.
I knew better, but I did it anyway.
Now I suffer the consequences. It is my humble opinion that this principle applies to more than cars. How often do we make that sort of mistake in our relationships, and then regret it? I know I should talk something out, but I hide it anyway and grow resentful. I know I should listen to the other perspective, but I jump to conclusions. I know the path of love, the path of peace.
All too often, I take the other path. I take the one that seems easier now, but will cause me greater problems down the road--or keep me off the road altogether.