Several years ago, I had occasion to know this firsthand. I was driving an aging BMW 1600 up I-5, Seattle-bound, when copious smoke came out of the engine compartment. Engine on fire? I didn't know! Exited the nearest off-ramp and under the hood, I saw the problem: a leak off the oil pressure sensor. The oil was dropping on a hot exhaust manifold. Instant smoke and a lot of it.
My initial idea was to screw in the oil sensor tighter. The problem was I didn't have any tools.
I went to a nearby gas station, explained my problem and asked if they had a mechanic. They said the mechanic didn't work weekends, plus they didn't loan tools. They suggested I try someone else. As across the road, where I heard pretty much the same story, but that service station attendant added I couldn't park on their property, not if I'd be looking under the hood of my ailing car.
As you might guess, a tough spot. Halfway between Portland and Seattle in a two gas-station town and little else.
Then, of all things, I saw a hole-in-the-wall where they seemed to do nothing but repair Harleys. I went up to the owner and asked if I could borrow a tool, a wrench to tighten my oil sensor. (My Beemer fumed in the background.)
No doubt he'd seen it before. He brought out a crescent wrench and said, What you really need is piece of wood. Jam a stick in the hole.
What? Won't it catch fire?
Nope, doesn't get hot enough.
But I'm going to Seattle.
It'll be okay.
(As if I had any choice but to believe him.).
So I took out the oil sensor, left it dangling from its wire. Found a stick I whittled to fit in the gaping oil hole. Got it in tight and was on my way again.
If I ever harbored ill-will toward bikers, I had none after this experience.
Put it this way, you, too, could be stuck in some no-name town with a reluctant car. Your new friend might be the next biker you see..
Read Charlie Dickinson's
story collection, The Cat
at Light's End, as an ebook in these downloadable
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