Tag Archives: Challenges

Mary Mechanic

I will not ask. No way. I‘d rather take all night than ask. Asking is for sissies. I‘ve got no clue what‘s wrong with this bloody beast, but asking is not an option. Never no asking, ever.

Up to her elbows in chain oil, Mary tries not to mumble what she reminds herself to think, to strengthen her resolve to go it alone. She also takes care not to look up from the spread of parts what would be an early twenty first century ebike in its assembled form.

Such so called Pedelecs, because of the electrically assisted pedaling, were a typical fad of the late presustainable era. What passed for a battery in those days delivered minimal storage capacity for maximum bulk, and no wearable  photovoltaics to top up on the go. Pretty much useless over long distances or for steep climbs. But this sorry device reminded its nonagenarian owner of the joys of youth, when it turned up at the far end of a cellar that had to be redone after unusually severe floods. He decided to have it repaired and upgraded, as a vintage gift for the twentieth birthday of a grandchild that will be hard pressed to pretend cheer.

As no expense was to be spared, Mary opted to replace the toxic mess left from the original battery by the best bioreactor money can buy. For a daily dose of ten Milliliters of sugar water the genetically engineered glowyeast delivers enough juice to carry bike and rider over one hundred kilometers flat, with minimal muscular exertion. No annoying stopovers at fast charging stations. Carry a couple of refill syringes, and you‘re good for a whole day of mobile fun.

The bioreactor alone is equivalent in worth to an electric Harley Davidson. That‘s Mary‘s gift to the poor grandchild. If she‘s clever, she will overcome the disappointment, read the manual, discover the hidden gem, have the bioreactor replaced by a nanotube battery and buy herself a one year subscription to a virtual reality chamber instead of the three day pass she had been hoping for.

The glowyeast is in place and humming with productivity, the power transmission is a no brainer, but the mechanics prove more tricky than expected. The cogwheels resist assembly in standard formation. Mary has so far discovered eight ways not to do it, plus one that might work. Unfortunately, that one and so far only viable option runs contrary to basic basics. Every first year trainee knows all wheels should turn this way, and this way only, not that way. Except here, it’s the opposite. Either the elders had different basic basics, or Mary is about to mess up big.

I will not ask. I will not look up, otherwise Esther will come running. She has this way of saying ‘Come on sister, let me help you. Can’t have the boys thinking we’re not up to it, right?’ Drives me mad. Asking is for sissies, totally not ok.

I could go for a soda. With a little luck, Bodu will be at the fridge. Incredible, how many sodas he’s gulping down over a day. We’d have a little chat, about antiques. A chat, that’s not asking.

Of course it is. A chat is asking. Whom are you trying to fool here? No asking, period.

Mary has once again assembled the parts in the only way that feels right, except for running contrary to all basic basics. Only one way to find out who is right, her intuition or tradition. She releases the brake on the bioreactor and gently, gently exerts pressure on the pedal with her left hand, ready to emergency stop the engine with her right, in case it goes against.

Oh marvel, oh wonder. All fine, all parts working together for the common goal, ready to hit the road. Mary heats up in a rush of conflicting emotions. She did it. Without asking. All on her own. She’s one hell of a mechanic, getting even messy antiques back up. But could he, the constructor of this mess?! He owes her a long and sweaty afternoon, the bastard. Pity he must have been dead for decades, Mary would so love to kill him right now. How dare he?!

“Hey, sister, you did it, and all by yourself! Was wondering whether to drop a hint, like about some people in some countries driving on the wrong side of the road. Funny, how the folks in Asia and Europe had their mechanical conventions all upside down, back in the days of this antique, isn’t it? My first one took me a whole day to figure out, so congrats, you got there faster…”

Mary hadn’t heard Esther coming, too busy having more than one feeling at a time. Now she’s back to normal, as in one feeling, strong. She’d love a T-Rex to amble by and select Esther as snack. Nothing gory in her vision. No screaming, no wriggling, no red splashes. Just Esther swallowed by dinosaur mouth, period. Peace.

Esther is still talking, oblivious to the fact that she has just been snacked on, as far as Mary’s personal universe is concerned. Mary does her best not to listen while packing up as fast as possible. Her official workday ended three hours ago, and now she needs out. Otherwise, her inner T-Rex might suggest a novel use for the big wrench. Traditionally, it’s not meant to be used to smash someone’s skull. But sometimes, intuition needs to prevail over tradition.