Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Diagnosing the Family Car - Knowledge vs. Intuition

Ron, a 30-year engineer with a University of California degree in mechanical engineering, is astonished at my uncanny ability to diagnose family car problems. And more than a little infuriated.

You see...I have no mechanical aptitude or education. Zero. Zilch. Nada.

We bought a used car last week, and I drove it around town yesterday for various and sundry errands and motherly shuttle chores. When Ron got home from work last night, I told him that the car has a faulty hose, and is about to burst...that he needs to take care of it ASAP. He knows that I haven't opened the hood.

Tired from his workday, he protested that I must wrong, and that....well, he, an engineer, would have noticed something like that when he looked at the engine last week.

Nope, I said. It doesn't smell right, and it's running a tad hotter than it should, albeit still in the normal range. And once, when I was stopped at a traffic light, I thought I saw wisps of steam rising from under the hood on the driver's side. Sure, it could've been exhaust from the Ford Explorer in front of me, but I don't think so.

Ron sighed, "I'll look at it over the weekend."

I insisted. Please look at it after dinner. He agreed, but only to appease me.....not because because he felt the car needed his professional attention.

So after dinner and after helping Andrea with her math homework, my beloved husband spent a half-hour foraging under the car's hood.

I have a mild flu, so I bundled up, went early to bed with a book, and awaited his mechanical verdict. He shuffled in, sat on the edge of our rumpled bed, and said in a resigned, oddly deep voice, "You were right. There's a small hole in the main hose....on the driver's side of the engine."
As I've explained to him a thousand times, my mind is blissfully freed from any understanding of how a car engine works.....and am therefore open to diagnose it intuitively, using my senses (smell, hearing, sight, touch...not taste), my pragmatic, analytical skills and my 30 years of driving cars.

He thinks his way through diagnosing mechanical problems....relies on his considerable knowledge, checks manuals out from the library, uses the internet to research known engine problems. Ron has been a quality assurance engineer for manufacturers for more than 20 years. He just can't conceive of intuitive mechanical reasoning.

But almost always, I'm the one to initially detect family car problems.

Poor guy! ;>)

(P.S. He bought a replacement hose, and stayed up until 1 AM, fixing it for Andrea and me to be safe today. He's wonderful, even if he doesn't grasp the power of womens' intution in all matters. )


Anonymous said...

My husband never worked on an engine, but I would suppose if he worked on the HONEY DO i am right engine, he would have the intellect to agree with you woman!
Ron, if she was right, you done the right thing, if she was wrong you done the best thing. God bless you Ron...Is that a cold you have comin on? Or are you one that flew over the cuckcoo's nest....

Deborah White said...

LOL...not sure if I understand your comment, but I think our little family story here shows that, for us, it takes both intellectual approaches working together to solve our chores and challenges. :)

And I greatly appreciate him.