Tuesday, May 14, 2013


On Sunday, I found that my truck wouldn't start without jumper cables and a boost from the Subaru. So after getting it started, I drove to Walmart, the only place to have a battery installed on Sunday. I decided to have the oil changed at the same time. After about 30 minutes I checked in at the service department and found that there was a group of Walmart administrators gathered about my truck, scratching their heads. The terminal end had come apart in some place that it shouldn't have. First one administrator had been called in, then another and another as they tried to figure out what to do. Finally an automotive expert was called in from his day off to examine the situation.

During all that time, I was left waiting. Because I was not a Walmart employee, I was not allowed to even see what was wrong with my own truck.

The truly odd thing is that it was a problem I could have fixed myself. Instead, my truck was kept overnight. I went without its use for the balance of the day and the next. They wouldn't release it to me due to their concerns that a temporary fix to get it running would lead to my truck catching fire and they would be sued.

Yesterday, I spent an extended time on the phone. I learned that everything any mechanic at Walmart does to your car is recorded on DVD so they can review it in case they get sued. In the meantime, having fallen into a bureaucratic quagmire, my truck sat in their parking lot until 4 PM and I was stuck without its use as they waited for a tow truck to take it to another local mechanic so he could order the needed part. For most of the day yesterday the mechanic, under the impression that the entire wiring harness was destroyed led me to believe that it would take 3 or 4 days to get the correct parts. From Webster's:
Kafkaesque : of, relating to, or suggestive of Franz Kafka or his writings; especially : having a nightmarishly complex, bizarre, or illogical quality – Kafkaesque bureaucratic delays.
I should get my truck back today. With the truck finally delivered to an experienced mechanic, the trouble was found less complex and expensive than presumed, and the part was located for installation this morning.  In celebration of better days in American history, the following is from the Knickerbocker, Volume 39
The Yankee boy, before he's sent to school,
Well knows the mysteries of that magic tool.
The pocket-knife. To that his wistful eye
Turns, while he hears his mother's lullaby;
His hoarded cents be gladly gives to get it,
Then leaves no stone unturned till he can whet it;
And, in the education of the lad,
No little part that implement hath had.
His pocket-knife to the young whittler brings
A growing knowledge of material things.
Projectiles, music, and the sculptor's art,
His chestnut whistle, and his shingle dart,
His elder pop-gun, with its hickory rod,
Its sharp explosion and rebounding wad,
His corn-stalk fiddle, and the deeper tone
That murmurs from his pumpkin-leaf trombone,
Conspire to teach the boy. To these succeed
His bow, his arrow of a feathered reed,
His wind-mill, raised the passing breeze to win,
His water-wheel, that turns upon a pin;
Or if his father lives upon the shore,
You'll see his ship, 'beam-ends upon the floor,'
Full rigged, with raking masts and timbers staunch,
And waiting, near the wash-tub, for a launch.
Thus, by his genius and his jack-knife driven,
E'er long he 'll solve you any problem given;
Make any gim-crack, musical or mute,
A plough, a coach, an organ, or a flute;
Make you a locomotive or a clock,
Cut a canal, or build a floating dock,
Or lead forth beauty from a marble block;
Make any thing, in short, for sea or shore,
From a child's rattle to a seventy-four.
Make it, said I? Ay, when he undertakes it,
He'll make the thing, and the machine that makes it.
And, when the thing is made, whether it be
To move on earth, in air, or on the sea,
Whether on water, o'er the waves to glide,
Or, upon land, to roll, revolve, or slide;
Whether to whirl or jar, to strike or ring,
Whether it be a piston or a spring,
Wheel, pulley, lube sonorous, wood or brass,
The thing designed shall surely come to pass;
For, when his hand's upon it, you may know
That there's go in it, and he 'll make it go.'
Make, fix and create...


  1. Beautiful poem.

    Btw. sorry about your truck.

  2. Jonas, to make a long story short, the truck is fine. Walmart, sadly is not. As one of the employees told me, the wages are so low he can no longer afford to work there.

  3. Ah, Walmart. There are just no words. I'd much rather to Walt's Garage, which has been in my neighborhood since the 1920's and is run by mechanics who love cars. Kafkaesque indeed.