Mechanically Disinclined

Isn’t it true that all of us have special talents? Granted some of us have special talents like my Aunt Valerie, whose gift is the ability to creep out even the most stoic person in 5 seconds, but it still counts.

Likewise, I think that everyone will agree that each of us has an Achilles Heel of some type. My hypothesis is that the greater the talent you possess, the more awesome your fatal flaw. Think about how amazing Superman’s talents are… his fatal flaw was an extreme rock allergy; it goes like that.

I suppose that I have some moderate talents that stretch over a few related fields and while one might suspect that my flaws would likewise be mild and spread out over a few areas, sadly this is not the case. You see, I am awesomely mechanically inept.

I understand that some people say this and they mean that they have a hard time tuning their car’s engine with only hand tools, or that doing the geometry required to successfully cantilever a porch in their heads is problematic. What they are really saying is that they are able to deal with mechanical things, but they don’t feel particularly gifted in that area.

That is not me. At all.

A few days ago I decided to change the gearing on my bicycle. After receiving reassurance that this was a simple process, I decided to give it a try myself. My first attempt went as expected; I got about halfway done and seriously injured myself. Bleeding and more than a little concerned that I had permanently damaged both myself and my bicycle, I decided to leave off the rest of the project until a later date and with the correct tools.

Today was my second attempt. It started well enough and after consulting only 2 online videos I was able to remove the gears from the front of my bicycle. This is a process that normally takes a person 5 minutes and it only took me 30… well within my usual standards. Now, in order to remove the gears, there are 5 bolts that have to be undone. The first 3 came off quite easily, but the last 2 appeared to be frozen together somehow.

I tried every tool I have: pliers, hammer, socket wrenches, allen wrenches… you name it. As usually happens during any project I undertake, I began cursing. My screams of rage actually reached such a crescendo that my new neighbors began peeking out of their doors to make certain I wasn’t bleeding to death or something. At one point I even Tebowed a bit, but apparently I’ve not yet been forgiven for being a Steelers fan, because the bolts didn’t magically spring apart.

Finally, after an hour and a half (this is not an exaggeration), I was turning one of the bolts as hard as I could when my hand slipped… and the bolt turned. Apparently I had been tightening the bolts the whole time and all I had to do was turn them the other way.

Of course at this point the bolts were pretty mangled because I had been pounding on them for 90 minutes with increasing fury so it took me a while to get them loose, but turning them the correct way helped immeasurably.

This story would be humiliating if it was even the worst example of my mechanical ineptitude, but as I’m sure my family can tell you, this sorry tale hardly warrants an honorable mention. Please keep this in mind when you invite me over to help with house projects. I will enthusiastically volunteer, but you may want to restrict me to lifting things into place and holding tools (please have them clearly labeled.)

What about you, Internet? Do you have a fatal flaw?

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