by Robb White
(Excerpted from Messing
Around In Boats)
here for more information about MAIB)
You know, I'm sort of stupid about
some things. Fortunately it is not infectious and doesn't carry
over into all aspects of my life, but I am kind of oblivious.
It might be that I am single-minded and apt to ignore the immediate
doings in my surroundings while I am hot on the trail of the right
track. For instance, I have poor pedestrian skills. I would think
that it is because I never stay in town any longer than absolutely
necessary and have conditioned myself lo believe that it is all
right to wander around in a daze and not pay attention to where
I am going because, out here in the woods where the shop is or
down at the coast, about the worst thing that can happen is that
I might stub my toe.
I try to pull myself together
when I am in town because I believe that some of those ninnies
or nincompoops driving around with the cell phones clapped to
their heads will run over me. But just the other day I had to
cross the street to go to the radiator repair shop to buy a filler
neck for the copper coolant overflow tank I am having to build
for the Rescue Minor because it is impossible to buy a plastic
one that won't leak antifreeze in the bilge. I don't actually
know if it is impossible or not but I have a whole collection
of cheap made, polyethylene, after market crap, and they all leak.
What it is is that the little
hose barb on the bottom comes out right on the seam where they
sort of halfway melted the two halves of the thing together and
lhe two halves of the nipple aren't lined up right, so either
the nipple itself leaks or it is impossible to get the vinyl or
rubber tubing to seal even with a hose clamp. It'll work for a
while, but then I'll smell antifreeze and get worried over nothing.
I even Fixed the last one with 5200 (which, except for polyurethane
foam, will come closer to sticking to polyethylene than anything
I have found) only to smell antifreeze again and come to Find
out that the whole side of the damned thing had split.
You know there is no pressure
involved in a coolant recovery tank...I just don't understand
it and ain't going to worry about it anymore. I hate to waste
my time trying to fix otherpeople's mistakes. I used to do a little
gunsmithing on the side, but I found myself being unhappy at my
work which is an unacceptable condition. I think it was a Remington
1100 automatic shotgun that finally convinced me to quit doing
that. What a piece of junk...ain't worth fixing.
So, I was cussing and fuming around
the shop and my son said, "Hell, man how long you been fooling
around with that project...three or four days? Why don't you throw
that piece of junk over in the pile with all them other pieces
of junk? You have spent more time going to town than it would
have taken to braze a coolant tank up out of pure copper."
So, I went to town again to gather
up the raw materials for a dadblamed coolant overflow tank that
will not, damrnit, ever leak a single drop in the bilges of my
boat. While I was crossing the street to the radiator shop to
gel a radiator cap neck lo solder on my copper tank, I was not
paying proper attention to my pedestrian skills and walked right
out in front of a small pickup truck. The man stopped and leaned
his head out of the window and said, "Better watch out there,
old man. You are gonna get yourself run over like that."
Then he started laughing. Durn if it wasn't the employee of my
uncle (the antique furniture man)...a black man about 80 years
old and my good buddy. We like to stand around the furniture store
and compare notes on our colonoscopy experiences. Which, as an
aside, if all modern medicine worked as good as that gallon of
antifreeze they make you drink to clean you out in preparation
for that humiliation, we would all be in good shape.
Almost getting run over wasn't
the most dangerous lhing about this antifreeze project, it was
trying to find a radiator cap that would fit the damned thing
after I got it all brazed up. That's another thing I don't understand.
Why in hell are there so many different radiator and gas caps
for automobiles? It seems like they would be standard like lire
valves. Must be some kind of seam like this damned gas war. Anyway,
here I was wandering all over town to every automobile parts place
(which there are at least 30 of them in a town of about 10,000
people...I don't understand thal either). Whal I was looking for
was a non pressurized cap like on a Farmall Cub iractor (which
fit the neck I had) but nobody had such a thing, not even the
tractor place, so I was looking for something I could modify.
After I had made two or three
stops...carefully looking in both directions before I crossed
the parking lot...1 was driving to the Auto Zone when I was stopped
by a sheriff. As soon as I pulled over, damn if here came about
Five or six other sheriffs and police and all of them circled
my old Mercedes like Osarna Bin Laden was driving. You know. I
wonder if he has an old junk Mercedes like mine? Yasser Arafat
does. The word was out that I was wandering around looking for
something important to blow up with a big pipe bomb so they gathered
a SWAT team. They even had a little robot and a big dog. They
also, most of lhem, including the dog, knew me.
"Hell, that's just old Robb
While," was the consensus of opinion.
Of course, they had lo tie up
traffic for a long time while I explained that thing. You know,
given the theme of all these impotent, incompetent heroes we have
charging around on official business in the interest of national
security, I am lucky I live in a small town. I bet if I had been
in New York City. I'd be under the jail right now. Guess what?
I have to take the damned bomb back to town again because the
dum brass nipple I brazed on the bottom won't fit the same size
hose as the titty on the Filler neck on the engine day tank and
I got to find out if there is a hose that can be stretched enough
to get on the damned thing. If I was actually a bad man, I would
stick me a little cotton cord down in the nipple and light it
and walk in the door of the hardware store and exclaim:
"All right, dadblame you!
Next time I ask you lo order me a 24" meat saw blade, I bet
y'all'll pay attention."
Of course, they all know me in